212(e), The 2 Year Home Residency Requirement
One of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of the J Exchange Visitor Program is the 2 Year Home Residency Requirement. This rule which is put in place by the U.S. State Department (and in some circumstances in collaboration with foreign governments) requires that certain J Exchange Visitors return to their country of last legal residence for two years or obtain a waiver of this requirement before they are eligible for H-1B (temporary employment), L-1 (intracompany transfer), K (fiancee visa) or Permanent Residence (green card) status within the U.S.
It is important to understand that not all J Exchange Visitors are subject to this requirement. Additionally those that are subject to this requirement are not prohibited from returning to the U.S. in immigration statuses other than H-1B, L-1, K, or PR. For example if you are subject to this rule and would like to return to the U.S. as a tourist or a student you are eligible to do so. For detailed information about 212(e) please see the U.S. Department of State website
Who is subject to the requirement?
J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents (legal spouse and children under age 21) who meet at least one of the criteria below are subject to the 212(e):
- Home Government Funding. J Exchange Visitors who receive funding directly from their home country's government are subject to the 212(e) requirement. Regional government funding does not apply.
- U.S. Government Funding. J Exchange Visitors who receive funding directly from the U.S. government are "subject" to 212(e). This does not include salary you receive from Johns Hopkins University that is received from federal grants, only direct U.S. government funds. However, there are some exceptions which include grants that are specifically targeted for international exchange. Fulbright funding is considered U.S. government funding.
- Funding from an International Organization or Bi-National Commission. J Exchange Visitors who receive funding from International Organizations or Bi-National Commissions (organizations that receive their funding from government sources), such as, United Nations, NATO, or the European Community.
- The Exchange Visitor Skills List. J Exchange Visitors whose area of specialization has been identified as being in short supply by his/her government of legal permanent residence is considered "subject" to the Two Year Home Residency Requirement.
- Medical Education and Training. All J Exchange Visitors who are foreign medical graduates who come to the U.S. to receive graduate medical education and/or training are subject to 212(e).
Are J-2 Dependents subject?
If you are the J-2 dependent of a J-1 Exchange Visitor who is subject to the 212(e) requirement you are also subject to this requirement. Please note that J-2 dependents must rely on the J-1 to apply for a waiver of the 212(e) requirement. J-2s may not apply for the waiver separately from the J-1.
When should I do if I am not certain if I am subject to 212(e)?
There is often confusion about whether or not individuals are subject to 212(e). Do not assume that your visa stamp or DS-2019 have been marked correctly by U.S. government agencies. If any of the above statements are correct, you are subject, whether or not your documents are marked. If you have confusion we strongly encourage you to come into the Office of International Services to speak with an advisor. We can assist you in the process of requesting an Advisory Opinion from the U.S. Department of State.
I would like to pursue a waiver of 212(e).
Please see our page on waiver information. It is essential that you speak to an OIS advisor BEFORE you begin a waiver application.
If you have questions about J-1 Exchange Visitor status, please contact the OIS at firstname.lastname@example.org.