The Catholic University of America

The J-1 Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

Purpose Who is subject to this Requirement? How can I tell if it applies to me? Getting an Advisory Opinion Applying for a Waiver of the Requirement

Purpose

J-1 classification was designed as a public policy tool to facilitate international education and cultural exchange. This nonimmigrant classification is not administered by Citizenship and Immigration Services but rather by the Exchange Visitor Program of the Department of State. The two year home residency requirement was established to prevent "brain drain" in other countries. For some individuals, J-1 status carries with it a requirement to return to their home country after they finish their J-1 exchange program. This requirement is often refered to as 212(e) and is named after the section of the Immigration and Nationality Act in which the requirement is found.

Without either fullfilling this obligation or obtaining a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement, individuals subject to this requirement cannot do the following:

  • change their nonimmigrant classification from J to anything else (other than A or G) inside the U.S.
  • apply for an H or L visa
  • become a permanent resident

Who is subject to this requirement?

Not all J-1 status holders are subject to this requirement. There are four ways to be subject to the two-year home residency requirement:

  1. Skills List: In an effort to prevent brain drain in other countries, the State Department has asked other countries to provide a list of occupations/skills that are in short supply and needed to further develop in that country. This is known as the skills list. Individuals whose occupations/fields of work are listed for their home country are subject to the two year home residency requirement. The State Department periodically updates this list and provides access to the current version of the Skills List.
  2. Government funding: Individuals whose J-1 exchange programs programs have been directly funded by the U.S. government, their home government, or by an international government organization are also subject to the two year home residency requirement.
  3. Foreign Medical Graduates: Foreign physicians who come tot he U.S. for medical study or training are sponsored through the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) and are subject to this requirement.

Determining Applicability of 212(e)

At the time that a J-1 visa is issued, the consular officer makes a preliminary determination about whether or not the exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home residency requirement. He or she will indicate the determination on the following documents:

  1. Form DS-2019: In the lower left hand section of the form, the consular officer may have endorsed a preliminary determination by checking a box and signing his/her name. It's important to note that mistakes are sometimes made.
  2. Annotation on the visa: The consular officer often adds an annotation to the visa to indicate whether or not the exchange visitor is subject to 212(e). It's important to note that mistakes are sometimes made.

The Department of State reserves the right to make the final determination regarding whether or not someone is subject to the two-year home residency requirement.

Getting an Advisory Opinion

In situations where it is not clear whether an exchange visitor is subject to 212(e), the State Department can provide an advisory opinion. ISSS does not submit requests for advisory opinions.

To request an advisory opinion the following documentation should be compiled:

  1. Letter requesting an advisory opinion
  2. All copies of Ds-2019/IAP-66s
  3. stamped, self-addressed envelope for the opinion to be returned

Requests for advisory opinions are submitted to the following address:

INA 212(e) Advisory Opinion Request

The Waiver Review Division, CA/VO/L/W

SA-1, L-603

U.S. State Department

2401 E Street, NW

Washington, DC 20522-0106