212(e) Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

Two-Year Home Residence Requirement 212(e)

Some, but not all, exchange visitors are subject to this requirement. Through this provision, the Department of State helps ensure that your home country benefits from your educational and cultural exchange activity upon your return from the U.S.

J-1 exchange visitors, and their dependents (J-2's) become subject to the "Two-Year Rule" if any one of the following three criteria are met:

  1. If the exchange program was financed by a foreign government or directly or indirectly by the U.S. government for the purpose of exchange.
  2. If the skills that the exchange visitor is coming to develop or exercise are in a field which the exchange visitor's "home" government requested be on the Department of State's Skills List. The Skills List is compiled by the Department of State. It lists occupational fields and skills possessed by exchange visitors that the home government wishes to have return to the country. If an individual is a national of one country, but was a permanent resident of another country prior to entering the US as an exchange visitor, then one looks to the country of last permanent residence for purposes of assessing subjectivity to the "Two-Year Rule."
  3. If the exchange visitor comes to the U.S. to receive "graduate medical education or training."

When an Exchange Visitor is subject to this requirement this means that: 

  • Ineligible to change from J-1 status to another visa status while remaining in the U.S. The Exchange Visitor can travel to apply for a non-immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.
  • Ineligible for an H1-B visa, L visa, or immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate until fulfilling the 2 year home residence requirement in your country of residency. 

For the terms of the requirement, please review item 1a on the back of your DS-2019 form. If you have any questions about the two year home residency requirement, including whether or not you are subject to it, please ask the U.S. Consular officer when you apply for your visa. Know that upon your arrival to the U.S. the 212(e) residence requirement will be discussed in detail during new J Scholar or Student Intern Orientation.

Can I apply for a waiver of the 2 year home residence requirement/212(e)?

Individuals interested in understanding the 212(e) waiver process should review the U.S. Department of State Waiver website.

The Office of International Education is not involved in the waiver application nor has any specific advice or guidance to offer individuals who are interested in applying for a waiver of the 212(e) requirement. J-1 Exchange Visitors may file an application to request a waiver on their own or may seek the support of a qualified immigration attorney. If a J-1 Exchange Visitor is granted a waiver, the OIE will receive a written letter. From the point in which we receive the letter, the OIE is no longer able to extend the J-1 program dates listed on the current DS-2019.