In some cases, the J-1 visa carries with it a two-year home residence requirement which obliges visa holders and their J-2 dependents to return to their home countries for two years before being eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or a non-immigrant H or L visa. The requirement also makes J-1 visa holders and their J-2 dependents ineligible to change to any other visa status within the United States if they are subject to it.

Not all J-1 visa holders are subject to this requirement. The requirement applies to those individuals in one of the following situations:

  • J-1 visa holders who are funded by the United States Government, their own governments, or international organizations during part or all of their stay in the United States are subject to the requirement.
  • J-1 visa holders whose skills are needed in their home countries, as registered on the Exchange Visitor Skills List, are subject to the requirement.
  • J-1 visa holders who are graduates of foreign medical schools participating in internships, residencies, or clinical training programs in the United States sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) are subject to the requirement.

Are you subject to 212(e)?

J-1 visa holders should check both their Forms DS-2019 and J-1 visas to see if they are subject to the two year home residence requirement, 212(e). Harvard sponsored J-1 s should contact the HIO with questions regarding whether or not they are subject to the requirement.

Advisory Opinion from the U.S. Department of State

In the case that there is a doubt in whether or not a J-1 visa holder is subject to the requirement, the individual may request an Advisory Opinion from the U.S. Department of State.

212(e) Waiver

J-1 visa holders who are subject to the requirement based on the information noted above and who do not wish to fulfill the requirement by returning to their home countries for two years may apply for a Waiver of the two-year home residence requirement. Please note: Before requesting an Advisory Opinion or applying for a Waiver, J-1 visa holders are encouraged to contact their HIO advisors. Failure to inform an HIO advisor regarding this matter could jeopardize the visa holder’s ability to secure an extension of the Form DS-2019, or the option to change into another non-immigrant status.