Two Year Home Country Residence Requirement

Some J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to what is called the two-year home country physical presence requirement.

The "two-year residence" requirement applies to J-1 Exchange Visitors in the following situations:


if your country of permanent residency and field of work are identified by your home government as being in short supply and consequently listed on the U.S. State Department’s Exchange Visitor’s "Skills List."


if you receive any direct funding (including nominal travel grants) from your home government or a U.S. government agency at any point during your J-1 visa stay in the U.S.


if you are receiving graduate medical education or training on  J-1 visa sponsored by the Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG.)

NOTE: If you are subject to the home-residency rule, then any family members who entered the U.S. as J-2 dependents are also subject.

exclaimJ-1 visa holders are expected to complete their research, teaching or study objective within the time allowed on the J-1 visa. If your objective changes after you arrive in the US, you should know that the return-home requirement is enforced at the time that the J-1 Exchange Visitor or J-2 dependent requests an H-1B or L visa or U.S. Permanent Resident status. J-1 Exchange Visitors who are subject to this requirement must first return to their country of legal permanent residence for an aggregate of two years (24 months) or receive a waiver of the condition before they can change to H-1B or L status or become a U.S. Permanent Resident. Exchange Visitors who are subject to the return requirement may return to the U.S. in other non-immigrant categories including but not limited to F-1 student, J exchange visitor, B visitor and the O-1 alien of extraordinaryability.

Determining Your Requirement

In some instances, you will find the notation: “bearer is (is not) subject to 212.e home residency rule” on your J-1 visa stamp and a second notation on your DS-2019 form. This notation is not a final determination and in some cases is issued in error (none of the three criteria above apply in your case). If you think the notation is in error, contact an OISS adviser. 

You research whether your country appears on the Skills List, and then identify whether or not your specific field of work is listed. If it is unclear whether you would be subject according to the Skills List please speak to an OISS advisor. The OISS may suggest that you apply for an official Advisory Opinion from the U.S. Department of State.