Home Country Two-Year Residence Requirement
The two-year home country physical presence requirement is one of the most important special characteristics of J-1 status and should be thoroughly understood by the exchange visitor. The determination as to whether an exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home country requirement by virtue of the need for her/his specialized knowledge or skills in the home country is made by reference to the Exchange Visitor skills list, an official list of fields of specialized knowledge and skills needed in each country, as determined by the government of those nations.
The exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home country residence requirement only if participation in an exchange program began after her/his field of study appeared on the skills list. This requirement may be waived under certain circumstances. Exchange visitors subject to this requirement can apply for a waiver from the USCIS which oversees lawful immigration to the United States. The USCIS is a component of the Department of Homeland Security. The waiver request must first be reviewed and approved by the United States Department of State prior to any review by USCIS. The USCIS customer service toll-free telephone number is 1.800.375.5283.
To determine if an exchange visitor is subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement [Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act], contact the United states Department of State for assistance. The public inquiries telephone number for the Bureau of Consular Affairs, Visa Office, in the Department of State is 1.202.663.1225. The University’s CEVP can also provide useful information.