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J1 Visa 2-Year Rule

Updated: Apr 1

Most of the J1 visas are subjected to 2 year home residency rule if not all. This requirement is a part of US law, in the immigration and nationality act section 212(e), therefore, this is also known as the 212(e) rule.

According to this rule, once you finish working on a J1 visa you need to return back to your home country for two years before being eligible to apply for any other type of visa (ex. H1, L1, etc.). If you do not want to go back and want to continue your stay in the US you need to obtain a waiver from the Department of Homeland Security.

I was also subjected to 2 year home residency requirement and in order to continue my stay in the US, I obtained a J1 waiver. I wrote my whole journey about obtaining the J1 waiver, please check here.

Related post: How to get a J1 waiver

If you are subjected to this rule then to change your visa to a different visa type or to get a permanent residency, you must have to obtain a waiver or fulfill the home residency requirement.

Still, several questions arise in one's mind (including mine) and I have tried to answer those here.

How do I know that I am subjected to the home residency rule?

Please check your DS 2019 (current or previous) to determine if you are subject to the 212(e) rule or you can also check your J1 visa stamp. The J1 visa stamp will say that "Bearer is subject to section 212(e), Two year home residency rule does apply". In my case, it was my J1 visa stamp.

Who is subjected to 2 years home residency rule?

International visitors are subjected to this rule if they fall under any of these criteria.

  • If a J1 exchange visitor is here to receive medical education or training

  • If J1 exchange visitors funding comes partially or fully from the US government or a foreign government

  • If the J1 exchange visitors field is on the skills list specific to his or her home country.

For the list please check out the USCIS website

Will J2 be also subjected to the home residency rule?

If the J1 visa holder is subjected to 2 year home residency requirement then the J2 is automatically subjected as well.

How do I apply for a waiver from 212(e) or the 2-year home residency rule?

Please check out my blog here: J1 waiver end-to-end process

Do I need to file separate waivers for J1 and J2?

No, once the J1 visa holder is granted a waiver by the department of homeland security then all its J2 dependents will get the waiver automatically.

Please keep in mind that I am not a lawyer and I sharing my J1 visa journey. Also, please keep checking USCIS websites for any recent updates. Please drop me some questions in the comment sections and I will try my best to answer those.

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