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Two-Year Home Country Residence Requirement-212(e)

Referred to as the 2 year rule, the home residency rule, or by its regulation number 212(e), the intent of this requirement is to have the home country benefit from the Exchange Visitor’s experience in the United States. Many J-1 nonimmigrants and any accompanying family members are subject to the two-year home residency requirement. Subjection to this rule means that a person must return to the country of last residence or nationality for an aggregate of two years at the completion of the J exchange visitor program before being allowed to return to the United States on an H or L nonimmigrant visa or apply for US permanent residency. Additionally, individual(s) subject to the home residency rule may not change or adjust status while in the United States.


Who is subject to the Two- Year Home Residency Requirement?

J-1 exchange visitors and their dependent(s)* are subject to the two year home residency rule if any of the following 3 criteria are met:

  • Any exchange visitor who receives funding for the specific purpose international exchange from his or her home government or the United States government.  
  • If an exchange visitor's skills, education, or occupation are listed on the U.S. Department of State's "Skills List" then the exchange visitor is subject to the home residence requirement. According to the J Exchange Visitor Program rules, an exchange visitor is acquiring a skill, education, or training in a specific occupation. Countries submit to the United States government a list of skills that are in short supply in their country. The Department of State maintains the official Exchange Visitor Skills List.
  • Any J exchange visitor in graduate medical education or a training program such as residency, intern or clinical fellowship sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is subject to the home residence requirement.

*Regulations state that J-2 status is derivative of the status of the J-1 principal. That is, whatever rules the J-1 principal may be subject to also apply to any family member(s) in the J-2 status.


Waiver of the 2-year Home Residency requirement

A waiver process of the two-year home residence requirement is available in limited circumstances. The waiver process is complicated, lengthy and is not guaranteed. Additionally, once the waiver application has been submitted, an extension or transfer of the J-1 program cannot be processed. More information on waiver procedures can be found at the U.S. Department of State website.