Some J-1 exchange visitors (and their J-2 dependents) are subject to a two-year home-country physical presence 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 is receiving funding whole or in part, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of exchange from the U.S. government or the government of the exchange visitor’s country of nationality or last 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 a nonimmigrant temporary worker (H) or intracompany transferee (L);
- 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.