The two-year home-country residency requirement affects some J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents.
Who is the two-year residence requirement for?
There are three main categories:
- Your participation in an exchange program was financed, directly or indirectly, by the United States government or a foreign government for the purpose of exchange.
- The skills that you are coming to the US to develop or exercise are in a field which your home government requested be included on the State Department Exchange Visitor skills list.
- You come to the United States to receive graduate medical education or training.
The 2-year home residency requirement is termed "212(e)" and it applies to some J-1 exchange visitors (EV). If you are subject to this requirement, it should be noted on your visa or at the bottom of your DS-2019.
Still unsure? You can refer to this flowchart.
Status Categories and Timelines
A J-1 visitor subject to the requirement must return to the home country and remain there for two years before being eligible to return to the US as a lawful permanent resident, or on an:
- H visa—temporary workers and dependents
- L visa—intracompany transferees and dependents
- K visa—fiancé and dependents
Exchange visitors subject to the requirement are not eligible to change their status within the US, without first receiving approval of a waiver, to that of Permanent Resident or any other non-immigrant category except these statuses:
- G—international organization
- U—victims of qualifying criminal activity
Can I get a Waiver?
Exchange visitors subject to the two-year rule who want to change status within the US, or become an H-1B temporary worker or Permanent Resident, should check with the US Department of State for information about waivers.