Center for International Education


Holloway Hall
Salisbury University - Center for International Education
Immigration Advising

J-1 Visa Status

General Information

INA 212(e) Home Residency requirement

The two-year home country physical presence requirement established by I.N.A. 212(e) is one of the most important characteristics of exchange visitor status and should be thoroughly understood by program sponsors and by each exchange visitor.

Certain J-1 Exchange Visitors are required to spend two years in their home country at the end of their J-1 program. J-1 Exchange Visitors subject to this requirement cannot apply for H, L, or immigrant status unless they either return to their country of nationality for two years or obtain a waiver of the requirement. A change to another non-immigrant status while in the United States is also prohibited, except to A status (diplomatic or government official) or G status (international organization). It may be possible to apply for a different nonimmigrant visa (except H or L) at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the U.S. The authority to grant such a visa lies with the individual consular officer. If a person who has had J status and has been subject to the two-year home residence requirement re-enters the U.S. in another status, they still remain subject to the two-year home country requirement. 

Not all exchange visitors are subject to the two-year home residence requirement. There are three grounds on which an exchange visitor can become subject:
  1. If the exchange visitor's participation in an exchange program was financed, directly or indirectly, by the United States government or a foreign 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 included on the State Department Exchange Visitor Skills list, available at the U.S. Department of State website.
  3. The exchange visitor comes to the United States to receive "graduate medical education or training."
    To fulfill the home residence requirement, the individual subject to 212(e) must reside and be physically present in their country of nationality or last legal permanent residence for an aggregate (i.e., the time does not have to be continuous) of at least two years following departure from the United States after their program ends.

    Country of nationality or last legal permanent residence is determined when the J visa or J status was acquired. An exchange visitor who later acquires permanent residence or citizenship in another country is still subject to the requirements of the country of citizenship or legal permanent residence at the time he or she became an exchange visitor.

    The Waiver Review Division Web site's Frequently Asked Questions also state that in certain circumstances an exchange visitor can satisfy the residence requirement in another country (including the United States), if he or she is employed by the home country's military or career foreign service and has been officially stationed in the other country:

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