Certain exchange visitors, after completing their programs in the U.S., must return home for two (2) years before they can change or adjust to H, L, or permanent resident status in the U.S. The intent of this requirement is to have the home country benefit from the exchange visitor's experience in the U.S. The requirement to return home, also known as section 212(e) or the "Home Residency Requirement" does not apply to all J-1 exchange visitors.
If you hold J-1 status and meet any or all of the below criteria, then you are subject to this requirement:
- You have been financed in whole or part by the U.S. or your home government
- Your skills are needed by your home country as indicated in the U.S. government's "Exchange Visitor Skills List"
- Your purpose in coming to the U.S. is to receive graduate medical education or training.
If you hold J-2 status as a dependent of a J-1 exchange visitor who is subject to the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement, then you are also subject to the Two-year Home Residency Requirement.
Note: An exchange visitor subject to the two-year home residence requirement is NOT permitted to change to any other non-immigrant status in the U.S.
If you are unclear as to whether you are subject to the two-year home residence requirement, you can write to the U.S. Department of State and request a formal advisory opinion. Before doing so, however, you should first consult with a Scholar Services Advisor.
Exchange visitors who are subject to the two-year home residence requirement may, under certain circumstances, apply for a waiver of the requirement. If you are considering applying for a waiver, you should consult with a Scholar Services Advisor as soon as possible.