J-1 Two-Year Home Country Requirement

Some J-1 Exchange Visitors, such as J-1 students and scholars may be subject to Section 212(e) of the Immigration and National Act. Also known as the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement. This also applies to their J-2 dependents.

U.S Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs defines a two-year home country rule as follow:

“When you agree to participate in an Exchange Visitor Program you will be subject to the two-year home-country foreign residency requirement if your exchange program is funded by either your government or the U.S. government, involves specialized knowledge or skills deemed necessary by your home country or you received graduate medical training. If this requirement applies, you must return to your home country for a cumulative total of two years at the end of your exchange visitor program. You are not prohibited from traveling to the United States but may not benefit from certain employment-based or family-based visas until the foreign residency requirement is satisfied.”

Exchange visitors are subject to this requirement if one or more of the following applies:

  • Government funded exchange program and/or
  • The field of study/research of the exchange visitors has been listed as a desirable skill on the The Exchange Visitor Skills List by your home country and/or
  • Foreign medical graduates come to the US to received graduate Medical Education or Training

If exchange visitors are are subject to Section 212(e), they will not be eligible to apply for an H, K, L visa or permanent residence/citizen status until they have satisfied this requirement.

However, exchange visitors may return to the US with a different visa such as B-1/B-2 or F-1 visa after their departure.

To apply for a waiver of the two-year home country physical presents requirements, please visit the U.S. Department of State - the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.