The J-1 Exchange Visitor Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement

What does it mean to be subject to the Requirement?

Certain J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement, Section 212(e) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. Those who are subject to this requirement are not eligible to:

  1. Change to another nonimmigrant visa status (except A, diplomat, or G, representative to an international organization;
  2. To adjust status to permanent resident;
  3. To apply for an H, L or permanent resident visa;
  4. To obtain an Advance Parole, until they return to their home country for an aggregate period of two years or until they receive a waiver of the requirement.

Who is subject?

  1. Government Funding

    Exchange Visitors who received any direct funding from either their home government or the U.S. government during their J-1 program. Those who receive indirect government funding through an international organization are also subject. If the indirect government funding was granted to the university and paid to the Exchange Visitor as salary, this does not make the J-1 subject unless the scholar’s name is on the grant or the grant was specifically designed to support international exchange.

  2. Exchange Visitor Skills List

    If the Exchange Visitor's occupation or area of specialization is listed as one in short supply in the home country according the Exchange Visitor's Skills List which is published by the Department of State (DOS), he or she is subject. A J-1 is subject to the version of the list in force at the time he or she entered the U.S. in, or changed to J-1 status. It can be difficult to determine if the particular area of specialization is in fact included on that list and, in this case, an advisory opinion may be requested from DOS.

  3. Graduate Medical Education or Training

    Exchange Visitors who come to receive graduate medical education or training, usually consisting of a residency or fellowship program, are subject to the home residence requirement.

How do you know if you are subject?

An indication as to whether or not the J-1 is subject to 212(e) may be noted on the visa or the form DS-2019. As several government officials have the opportunity at various times to make a determination, the notations may not agree or may be noted erroneously. If the criteria above apply to the Exchange Visitor, he or she is subject, regardless of the notations, and could likewise not be subject despite the notation otherwise. An advisory opinion may be requested from Department of State (DOS) in such a situation. The J-2 spouse and dependents of the J-1 are subject based on whether or not the J-1 is subject. More information about J Visa Waivers is available from DOS.

Waiver of the Two-Year Home Residence Requirement

To apply for a waiver of the Two Year Home Residence Requirement, please refer to the Department of State J Visa Waiver Online page

Please note:  SISS includes these links for informational purposes only.   A request for a waiver of 212 (e) is a personal petition and while SISS advisors can give general information about the waiver process, J-1 international scholars should not expect assistance from either SISS advisors or department staff in submitting 212e waiver requests.