J-1 (Exchange Visitors) Two Year Foreign Residence Requirement

What is a 2 year foreign residence requirement for J Visa holders?

Certain exchange visitors (J-1) are required to return their home country or country of last residence upon completion of their U.S. training before they can apply for a another immigrant visa, change of status to another non-immigrant visa (except A, G or change to H-1B for physicians receiving waivers on the basis of a 3-year waiver job), or Adjustment of Status (“AOS”),

Following J-1 visa holders are subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement:

  • Whose participation “was financed in whole or in part, directly, or indirectly, by an agency of the government of the United States, or by the government of his nationality or last residence”.
  • If at the time of admission or acquisition of J status, was engaged in a field on the Department of State (“DOS”) Exchange Visitor Skill List.
  • He/she acquired a J status after Jan 10, 1977, to receive graduate medical education or training.

Are J-2 dependents also subject to a 2 year foreign residence requirement for J Visa holders?

Yes. J-2 Dependents are also subject the the 2 year foreign residence requirement.

Waiver of 2-Year Requirement

If you are unable to return to your home country to fulfill the two-year requirement, you must obtain a waiver approved by the Department of Homeland Security prior to changing status in the United States or being issued a visa in certain categories for travel to the United States.

J-2 Visa Dependents of J-1 Exchange Visitors

The J-2 Visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by a consular official at a U.S. embassy or consulate for spouses and dependents (unmarried children under the age of 21) of J-1 exchange visitors who accompany or later join the J-1 holder in the United States.

Am I eligible for a J-2 Visa?

  • Eligibility depends on the specific exchange program being offered to the J-1 non-immigrant by sponsor organizations.
  • Exchange categories of au pair, camp counselor, secondary school student and summer work travel do not permit J-2 Visas.

How do I apply for a J-2 Visa?

  • The application procedure for a J-2 visa is the same as that for a J-1.
  • The organization sponsoring a J-1 must approve the accompaniment of the spouse and/or children who will each be issued their own Form DS-2019.

Can a J-2 visa holder seek employment?

  • In most cases a J-2 can seek employment. To work, a J-2 Visa holder must obtain an Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”) from the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Money earned by a J-2 cannot be used to support the principal J-1 Visa holder.

Can a J-2 visa holder study while in the United States?

Yes, J-2 can also study while in the United States.