INA 212(e), or "Two-Year Home Country Residence Requirement"
The J-1 Two Year Home Country Residence Requirement is often referred as INA 212(e). There is much misunderstanding and unfounded concern about this regulation, usually because of incorrect or incomplete information. A J-1 visa holder may have to return to and reside in his/her home country physically for two years before s/he may return to the U.S. as an H-1B visa holder, L visa holder, or as a Permanent Resident. This regulation also prevents a subject J-1 visitor from changing his/her visa status within the USA. Being "subject" to this regulation does not prevent a visitor from returning to the US in another visa status, such as F-1 (student), B1/B2 (tourist/business) or visa waiver.
There are three reasons a J-1 visitor may be subject to INA 212(e):
• J-1 program is funded in part or wholly by the United States government, the visitor's government, or an international organization.
• the J-1 program is engaged in one or more of the skills listed on the Exchange Visitor Skills List (1997 Amendment) for his/her country.
• the J-1 visa holder is receiving graduate medical education or training.
If the J-1 visa holder is subject to the two-year home residence requirement, s/he may not be able to change the status to H-1B, L, or immigrate to the U.S. until s/he fulfills the two-year requirement or is granted a waiver of the requirement from the U.S. Department of State.
Your ISSO advisor can guide you in how to determine whether or not you are subject to INA 212(e). However, we do not assist in the preparation of 212(e) waiver applications.
For more information on J-1 two-year requirement, visit the Department of State web site.