The J-1 classification is designed to be a method by which individuals from around the world can visit the U.S. to gain or augment specific skills, and then leverage those skills in their home country.
For this reason, many individuals residing temporarily in the U.S. in J-1 status will not be able to remain in the U.S. at the completion of their J-1 status (i.e. will not be able to change to another status or apply to become a permanent resident), and will be required to reside in their home country for two years before applying for H or L status or applying to become a permanent resident of the U.S. The U.S. law requiring a two-year home residency is Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
In some cases, a waiver of the two year home residency requirement may be possible. Additionally, being subject to 212(e) does not preclude one from traveling abroad, applying for any nonimmigrant visa other than H, L, or permanent residency, and does not preclude one from eventually obtaining any non-immigrant status other than H or L. You should consult with the ISO first before beginning the waiver process. Approval of the 212(e) waiver will prohibit extensions or transfers of your one's J-1/J-2 status.
You may be subject to the two-year home residency requirement if:
- You plan to come to the U.S. to engage in a medical residency program;
- Your expertise or program involves skills listed on the U.S. Department of State's Skills List;
- Your program has received funds from an agency of the U.S. government; or
- Your program has received funds from an agency of your home government.
Information about whether or not you are subject to the two-year home residency requirement should appear on your visa stamp and/or Form DS-2019. Note that if no information appears on either your visa stamp or Form DS-2019, you may still be subject to the 212(e) requirement. If your visa or DS-2019 form indicates that you are subject to the 2 year rule and you think this rule has been applied to your visa status in error you can request an Advisory Opinion from the US Department of State.
Waivers to 212(e) requirement
In some cases it may be possible to apply for a waiver to the 2 year home residency requirement. We strongly recommend that you speak with an ISO advisor before starting the process. Once you have started the application process we can no longer extend your J-1 program. More information about the waiver application process can found at the US State Department website