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:
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.