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.