J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

Two-Year Home Residency Requirement: 212(e)

What is the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement?

When you agree to participate in an Exchange Visitor Program and your program falls under the conditions explained below, you will be subject to the two-year home-country physical presence (foreign residence) requirement. This means you will be required to return to your home country for two years at the end of your exchange visitor program. This requirement under immigration law is based on Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, and Title 22 Part 40 and Part 41 in the Code of Federal Regulations.

This requirement does not prohibit a visitor from returning to the US in any other immigration status.  For example, if the visitor wishes to return as a tourist or student within the two-year period and meets the requirements for those entries, the two-year physical presence requirement does not prohibit this.

Who is subject to the requirement?

An exchange visitor (and any dependents) are subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement if any of the following conditions exist:

  • Government funded exchange program - The program in which the exchange visitor was participating was financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the U.S. government or the government of the exchange visitor's nationality or last residence.  (This includes organizations and commissions that receive funding from government sources.)
  • Graduate medical education or training - The exchange visitor entered the U.S. to receive graduate medical education or training;
  • Specialized knowledge or skill: Skills List - The exchange visitor is a national or permanent resident of a country which has deemed the field of specialized knowledge or skill necessary to the development of the country, as shown on the Exchange Visitor Skills List. Review the Exchange Visitor Skills List 2009.

Change of Status and Waivers of Requirement - If the exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home-country physical presence (foreign residence) requirement, he or she cannot change his/her status to that of H, L, K, or immigrant lawful permanent resident (LPR) until he or she has returned to his/her home country for at least two-years or received a waiver of that requirement. Such waivers may be requested and if approved, obtained under these five separate bases: 

No Objection Statement;
Exceptional Hardship;
Persecution;
Conrad Program (for physicians), or
Interested Government Agency

For information about waivers, eligibility and process, see Waiver of the J Visa Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement 212(e).

Other questions might be answered at http://travel.state.gov/pdf/J_WaiverFAQ21-DEC-06.pdf

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