Builder's Note

This information pertains to both J-1 students and scholars, but resides in the J-1 student section. If you are a J-1 student directed to this page, you will want to return to the J-1 student overview.

Some J-1 exchange visitors (and their J-2 dependents) are subject to a two-year home country residency requirement based on Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Conditions for the Requirement

An exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home residency requirement if one or more of the following conditions applies:

  • Specialized Knowledge or Skill: The expertise associated with the J-1 program field is needed in the home country and identified on the Exchange Visitor Skills List.
  • Government Funding: The exchange visitor participates in a program that was financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the United States government or by the government of the country of their nationality or of their last legal permanent residence.
  • Graduate Medical Education or Training: The exchange visitor entered the U.S. to receive graduate medical education or training;
  • J-2 Dependent of a J-1 Exchange Visitor Subject to the Requirement

If an exchange visitor has ever been subject to the requirement in the past, and has neither obtained a waiver nor fulfilled it by spending two years in the home country, it still holds even if a more current Form DS-2019 or visa reflects no basis for such a requirement.

Impact of the Requirement

Exchange visitors subject to 212e are not eligible for:

  • Change status in the United States to another nonimmigrant status;
  • Adjust status in the United States to immigrant visa/lawful permanent resident status (LPR);
  • Receive an immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate; or
  • Receive a temporary worker (H), intracompany transferee (L), or fiancé (K) visa.

Fulfilling the Requirement

Exchange visitors subject to 212e can fulfill the requirement by:

  • Returning to their country of nationality or last legal permanent residency for at least two years; or
  • Obtaining a waiver of 212e

Preliminary Endorsements & Advisory Opinions

The visa stamp in your passport and/ or your DS-2019, may indicate whether or not you are subject to the home residency requirement. On occasion these documents may be marked inconsistently.

If you are unsure of whether the two-year home residency requirement applies to you, you may seek an advisory opinion from the Department of State. You may also consider consulting an immigration attorney.

Applying for a Waiver of the Requirement

Please consult the U.S Department of State website for information about filing a waiver. Waiver applications are the responsibility of the exchange visitor subject to the requirement. Questions related to the waiver process should be directed to an immigration attorney and the U.S. Department of State.

Please note, once an Exchange Visitor receives a U.S. Department of State recommendation for a 212(e) waiver, they are no longer eligible for an extension of the J-1 Exchange Visitor program nor a J-1 Exchange Visitor transfer. If an Exchange Visitor has a waiver application pending with the U.S. Department of State Waiver Review Division, then it is likely that they will need to update their pending waiver application with the new DS-2019 form that we will issue them. Exchange Visitors are encouraged to contact the DOS Waiver Review Division to determine how they should proceed.