The Two-Year Home Residency
Requirement or 212(e)
What is the requirement?
Some J-1 exchange visitors and their dependents are required to return either to their country of nationality or country of legal permanent residence for a period of two years at the end of their J-1 program. The purpose of this requirement is to provide the home country with the benefit of the exchange visitor's experience in the United States.
If you are subject to this requirement you may not:
- Change your status inside the U.S. from J to any other nonimmigrant classification except A or G
- Change from J-1 to J-2 status or from J-2 to J-1
- Change to permanent resident (green card) status
- Enter from abroad with H, L or immigrant status
If you are subject to this requirement you may leave the U.S. and enter on a new nonimmigrant status such as F-1, B-1/B-2, J-1 student or O-1. Just keep in mind that the 2-year rule is still in effect, meaning you will still be subject to the restrictions listed above until you are outside the U.S. for at least 24-months or you obtain a waiver.
Who is subject?
You are subject if:
- Your J-1 participation is funded in whole or in part, directly or indirectly/for the purpose of exchange, by your home government or the United States government. (Payment from the Wichita State University is usually not considered to be government funding)
- Your field of work appears on the “Exchange Visitors Skills List” for your country. This means that your field is considered to be in short supply in your home country. The U.S. Embassy/Consulate where you apply for your visa should be able to tell you if the Skills List applies to you;
- You participated as a J-1 in a graduate-medical education or training program, i.e., a residency, internship, or fellowships, sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates; or
- 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, it still applies to you-even if a great deal of time has passed and a more current form DS-2019 indicates that you are not subject to this requirement. Changing your citizenship to that of another country also does not eliminate your two-year requirement.
The U.S. consular officer generally notes whether the person is subject to 212(e) on the initial DS-2019 and on the J-1 visa in the passport. To determine whether you are subject, check the following documents:
- J-1 visa, under Annotation, if noted “Bearer is subject to Section 212(e). Two-year rule does apply” you are subject
- DS-2019, Page 1, box in lower, left-hand corner. If box 2 is checked, you are subject.
This initial determination is usually correct but is not legally binding. Students may wish to obtain an advisory opinion from the DOS to verify for certain whether or not they are subject to this requirement, or if they believe the 212 (e) rule was applied in error. Instructions for the advisory opinion process can be found at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/general/advisory-opinions.html.
If subject, there are two ways to fulfill the two-year foreign residence requirement:
- Return to the home country for a period of two years or more, or
- Request and receive a waiver of 212(e)
Note: The DOS considers the “home country” to be the country of where your current passport was issued.
Waivers of the requirement
Information about applying for a waiver of 212 (e) is available online at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/study-exchange/student/residency-waiver.html. If you intend to apply for a waiver, be very careful about the timing of your request. After obtaining a waiver recommendation from the U.S. State Department, you are no longer eligible to extend your J-1 status or transfer to another J-1 program. You should discuss your plans with WSU's Responsible Officer before applying for a waiver.