The two-year home country residence requirement is one of the most important special characteristics of exchange visitor status and should be thoroughly understood by all J-1 participants. As an exchange visitor, you may not be eligible to obtain permanent resident, H temporary worker or trainee, or L intra-company transferee status in the U.S. until you have resided and been physically present in your country of nationality or last legal permanent residence for a minimum of two years following your departure from the United States. You are also not permitted to change to another nonimmigrant status in the United States.
These restrictions apply in any of the following cases:
- When your participation in the program for which you came to the U.S. was financed in whole or part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the U.S. government or by the government of your home country.
- When, at the time of admission or acquisition of exchange visitor status you were a national or resident of a country which the U.S. Department of State, pursuant to regulations prescribed by him or her, designated as clearly requiring the services of persons engaged in the field of specialized knowledge or skill in which you are engaged.
- You came to the United States or acquired exchange visitor status in order to receive graduate medical education or training.
"Financed directly" means financed in whole or part by the United States Government or your home government with funds contributed directly to you in connection with an exchange visitor program.
"Financed indirectly" means:
- financed by an international organization with funds contributed by either the United States or your home government for use in financing international educational and cultural exchange, or
- financed by an organization or institution with funds made available by either the United States or your home government for the purpose of furthering international educational and cultural exchange.
Exchange Visitor Skills List
The determination as to whether you are subject to the two-year home country residence requirement, depending on the need for your specialized knowledge or skills in the home country, is made by reference to the Exchange Visitor Skills List. This is an official list of fields of specialized knowledge and skills needed in each country determined by each country’s corresponding government. You are subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement only if participation in an exchange program began after your field of study appeared on the skills list.
Applying for a Waiver
It is possible, under certain circumstances, for the the 2-year home residence requirement to be waived.