In accordance with the new revised 2009 J-1 Skills List, which became effective June 28, 2009, several countries (see below) have been removed from the J-1 Skills List.
Individuals who have held a J-1 Visa, and who are nationals of countries that have been removed from the J-1 Skills List are no longer subject to the J-1 Section 212(e) two year Home Residence Requirement (HRR), if they had been subject to the J-1 home residence requirement based on the previous J-1 Skills List. However, if an individual skill has been removed from the revised 2009 J-1 Skills List (as opposed to the J-1 visa holder’s country of nationality), a person subject to the J-1 Section 212(e) requirement is not relieved of the J-1 Visa two year home residency requirement.
The Exchange Visitor Skills List, or J-1 Skills List, is a list of fields of specialized knowledge and skills that have been deemed necessary for the development of a J-1 visa holder’s home country. When an individual agrees to participate in a J-1 Exchange Visitor Program in the United States, if that person’s skill is on his/her country’s J-1 Skills List, s/he is subject to a J-1 two-year foreign residence (home country physical presence) requirement, which requires the J-1 visa holder to return to his/her home country for two years at the end of the J-1 visa program. This requirement under immigration law is based on Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended.
The 2009 Skills List applies to exchange visitors who received their J-1 visa on or after June 28, 2009, and whose country is on the 2009 Skills List. Exchange visitors who entered the United States prior to June 28, 2009, continue to be governed by the J-1 Skills List that was in effect when they received their J-1 visa. Exchange visitors whose countries were removed from the 2009 J-1 Skills List, are, retroactively, not subject to the two-year home residence requirement based on the Exchange Visitor Skills List, even if they entered the United States prior to the effective date of the 2009 J-1 Skills List.
The applicable country is the J-1 Visa holder’s country of citizenship or nationality as shown in his/her passport, with the following exception. If the country of nationality differs from the country of the J-1 visa holder’s last legal permanent residence at the time s/he obtained a J-1 Visa, the J-1 Skills List from the country of last permanent residence at the time the J-1 visa holder obtained the J visa applies.
When the J-1 visa holder’s field of knowledge or skill is displayed on his/her country’s J-1 Skills List, the two-year foreign residence requirement applies to that J-1 visa holder.
Countries that have been removed from the 2009 J-1 Skills List include:
Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic (removed 12/24/1997), Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Jordan, Kuwait, Lesotho, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malta, Morocco, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Qatar, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda, Western Samoa and Zimbabwe.
The immediately previous J-1 Skills List was revised in 1997. Earlier J-1 Skills Lists include: 1984 J-1 Skills List and the 1972 J-1 Skills List.