One of the most important aspects of J-1 status is the two-year home residency requirement. The J-1 classification is designed to be a method by which individuals from around the world can visit the U.S. to gain or augment specific skills, and then leverage those skills in their home country.
For this reason, many individuals residing temporarily in the U.S. in J-1 status will not be able to remain in the U.S. at the completion of their J-1 status (i.e., will not be able to change to another status or apply to become a permanent resident), and will be required to reside in their home country for two years before applying for H or L status or applying to become a legal permanent resident of the U.S. The U.S. law requiring a two-year home residency is Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act
In some cases, a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement may be possible. Additionally, being subject to 212(e) does not preclude one from traveling abroad applying for any nonimmigrant visa other than H or L, and does not preclude one from eventually obtaining any nonimmigrant status other than H or L.
You may be subject to the two-year home residency requirement if:
- You plan to come to the U.S. to engage in graduate medical training;
- Your expertise or program involves skills listed on the U.S. Department of State's Skills List (see PDF)
- Your program has received funds from an agency of the U.S. government; or
- Your program has received funds from an agency of your home government.
Information about whether or not you are subject to the two-year home residency requirement should appear on your visa stamp and/or Form DS-2019. Note that if no information appears on either your visa stamp or Form DS-2019, you may still be subject to the 212(e) requirement.