Some J-1 Exchange Visitors, depending on their field of study/research, and their J-2 dependents are required to return to their home country at the end of their program for a period of two years. The intent of this requirement is to have the home country benefit from the Exchange Visitor's experience in the U.S. Exchange Visitors come to this country for a specific objective, such as pursuing a program of study or a research project.
Terms of the Requirement
If you are subject to the requirement, then you must "reside and be physically present" for a total of two years in either your country of nationality or your country of legal permanent residence, in order to be eligible for:
- An H, L, or immigrant visa
- A change of status from J to another nonimmigrant classification
Who is Subject to the Requirement?
You may be subject if:
- Your J-1 participation was funded in whole or in part by your home government or the U.S. government
- You acquired a skill that is in short supply in your home country, according to the U.S. government's "Exchange Visitor Skills List"
- You are the J-2 dependent of an Exchange Visitor who is subject to the requirement
If you have ever been subject to the requirement in the past, and have neither obtained a waiver nor fulfilled it by spending two years in your country, the requirement still applies, even if a more current Form DS-2019 reflects no basis for such a requirement.
The visa stamp in your passport or your Form DS-2019, or both, may indicate whether or not you are subject to the requirement. These "preliminary endorsements" on the Form DS-2019 are usually accurate but are not legally binding.
If you are unsure whether or not you are subject, please contact OISS.
Waivers of the Requirement
Exchange Visitors who are subject to, but do not wish to comply with, the two-year home country residence requirement, may apply for a waiver of that requirement under any one of the applicable grounds provided by the U.S. immigration law.