The two-year home residence requirement is a U.S. immigration rule that requires certain individuals who participate in a J-1 Exchange Visitor Program to return to their home country or country of last legal permanent residence (as indicated on their Form DS-2019) for an aggregate period of two-years upon conclusion of their J-1 program. This is known as the two-year home country physical presence requirement under Section 212(e) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. This requirement is commonly referred to as “212(e).” The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that certain J-1 Exchange Visitors fulfill the exchange nature of their program and share the knowledge gained in the U.S. with colleagues in their home country.
Review the U.S. Department of State (DOS) Exchange Visitor page for further details about this requirement.
J-1 Exchange Visitors become subject to 212(e) in one of three ways:
- Receiving funding (direct or indirect) from either their home country government or the U.S. government. All J-1 Exchange Visitors sponsored by the NIH are subject to 212e under this basis (since the NIH is a U.S. government agency). Even if you are not directly funded by the NIH (for example, you receive funding from an outside source), indirect funds are used to support your stay at the NIH, and so you are subject.
- Possessing a skill that is in short supply in the home country as per the Exchange Visitor Skills List.
- Participating in a graduate medical education or training program sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).
If the primary J-1 Exchange Visitor is subject, then your J-2 dependents are also subject.
Do not assume that the 212(e) notation on your visa stamp or Form DS-2019 is correct. Errors are common, and an individual’s circumstances may change after arrival to the U.S.