The two year home residence requirement is a law that prohibits certain J-1 exchange visitors from reentering the United States, changing status, or obtaining permanent residence until they have lived in their home country for a full 24 months after completing the J-1 program. The purpose of the rule is to further the stated purpose of the J-1 program, which is to faciliate foreign nationals visiting the United States to gain education, training, or experience for the purpose of using it in their home country.
The two-year home residence requirement, or foreign residence requirement is found at Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The two year home residence requirement applies if the J-1 exchange visitor is described in one or more of the following categories:
If you are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement, you may not change your status to that of H, L, or K, or to immigrant or permanent residence status until you have either lived in your home country for two years, or received a waiver of this requirement. The two year home residence requirement does not bar tourist or business visits in B status.
If you are not sure whether the INA 212(e) two-year foreign residence applies to you, we can evaluate whether we believe that the two year home residence requirement applies to you and we can also make a written request for an advisory opinion from the Department of State as to whether INA 212(e) applies to your situation. It it rare, but possible for J-1 organizations including umbrella sponsors to enter the wrong code on the DS-2019 form inadvertently subjecting the J-1 visitor to the home residence requirement. In some cases a careful review of your documents can uncover an error that resulted in your misclassification as subject to the two year home residence requirement.
A J-1 exchange visitor subject to the two-year home residence requirement may apply for a waiver under one of the five categories discussed at INA 212(e):