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Office of International Education
Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

A J-1 and/or J-2 exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home-country physical presence (foreign residence) requirement 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, if one or more of the following conditions exist:

  • The program in which the J-1 exchange visitor is participating is financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the United States government or the government of the exchange visitor's nationality or last residence;
  • The J-1 exchange visitor is a national or resident of a country designated as requiring the services of persons engaged in the field of specialized knowledge or skills in which the exchange visitor was engaged for the duration of their program;
  • The J-1 exchange visitor entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training.

If the principal J-1 exchange visitor is subject to the two-year residence requirement, all dependents that enter in J-2 status are subject to it as well. The requirement should be marked on both the J visa and DS-2019.

Requesting an Advisory Opinion, if you are not sure that INA 212(e) applies to you.

If you are not sure whether the INA 212(e) two-year foreign residence applies to you, you may make a written request for an advisory opinion for the applicability of INA 212(e) to your situation. The advisory opinion request should include legible copies of every/all DS-2019/IAP-66 ever issued to you, along with a self-addressed envelope, and should be sent to:

INA 212(e) Advisory Opinion Request
The Waiver Review Division, CA/VO/L/W
SA-1, L-603
U.S. State Department
2401 E Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20522-0106

Impact of 212 (e) Two Year Home Residency Requirement

If an exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home residence requirement, s/he must reside and be physically present in her/his country of nationality or last legal permanent residence for an aggregate of at least two years following departure from the United States before being eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or permanent residence, a nonimmigrant H visa as a temporary worker or trainee, or a nonimmigrant L visa as an intracompany transferee, or a nonimmigrant H or L visa as the spouse or minor child of a person who is a temporary worker or trainee or an intracompany transferee.

J Waiver of 212 (e) Two Year Home Residency Requirement

Program participants who are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement, as established by Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, must apply for a waiver of that requirement if they seek to remain in the United States beyond the end date of their programs or if they seek to submit an application to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for a change in visa status.

A waiver may be requested for five statutory bases:

  • a claim of Exceptional Hardship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or child of an exchange visitor if the exchange visitor is required to return to the country of residence;
  • a claim that the participant will be persecuted due to race, religion, or political opinions if he/she returns to the country of residence;
  • a request from an interested US Government Agency on the participant's behalf;
  • a No Objection Statement from your government; and
  • a request by a designated State Health Department or its equivalent.

Participants must file an application to receive a recommendation for a waiver with the Department of State.

Impact of Waiver of 212 (e) Two Year Home Residency Requirement

Once an exchange visitor program received notification of the Department of State recommendation for a waiver, the exchange visitor is no longer eligible for further extension of stay (this includes extensions for academic training and transfers to new J programs) or reinstatement to valid program status.