Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  • A—diplomatic
  • 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.