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.