J-1 Home Residence Requirement
The two year J-1 home residence requirement restricts certain J-1 visa holders from changing to some other US visa categories until they can show that they have either satisfied or waived the J-1 Home Residence Requirement.
The two year J-1 Home Residence Requirement (HRR), sometimes also called the Section 212(e) restriction or the J-1 Home Country Physical Presence Requirement, attaches to many holders of J-1 Visa status and their dependents under § 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
To change to temporary visa categories such as the H-1B visa, the K visa or the L-1 visa, or to obtain a green card (US permanent residence), J-1 visa holders subject to the § 212(e) J-1 Home Residence Requirement, along with their J-1 visa dependents, must obtain a J-1 Waiver recommendation from the US Department of State (DOS) and an approval of that recommendation from USCIS.
J-1 Visa holders and their dependents may be subject to the two year J-1 Home Residence Requirement for one or more of the following reasons:
- Receipt of funding for the J-1 Visa Program from the US Government (USG), their own country’s government, or an international organization in connection with their participation in the J-1 Visa Program. Note that funding does not have to be direct, and it is often not apparent that a particular program has received USG, foreign government or international organization funding that could subject the J-1 Visa holder to the two year J-1 Home Residency requirement of § 212(e).
- The education, training or skill that they are pursuing in the US appears on the 2009 J-1 Skills List (effective 28 June 2009) for their country. The previous version of the new 2009 J-1 Skills List mentioned above will apply to J-1 Visa holders who entered the US prior to the effective date of 28 June 2009.
- They acquired J-1 Visa status on or after 10 January 1977, for the purpose of receiving graduate medical education or training.
If you are unsure whether the two year J-1 Home Residence Requirement of § 212(e) applies to your case, you or your attorney may write to the Department of State’s J-1 Waiver Review Division to ask for an Advisory Opinion on this issue.
J-1 Visa holders who are subject to, but do not wish to satisfy, the two year J-1 Home Residency Requirement may apply for a J-1 Waiver of that requirement based on any one of five grounds.
Note that J-1 Waiver decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, taking program, policy and foreign relations considerations into account (e.g., type of exchange program, amount and source of funding). These are balanced against information presented in support of the waiver application. No two cases are identical. Some cases have a better chance of success than others.
However, J-1 Visa holders who have had government funding of any kind, direct or indirect, are highly unlikely to receive a waiver. On the other hand, with certain exceptions, a “No Objection” J-1 Waivers for J-1 Visa holders with a § 212(e) Home Residency Requirement based on the J-1 Skills List have a much higher chance of success.