The J-1 Exchange Visitor program is administered by the U.S. Department of State with the purpose of increasing “mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through educational and cultural exchanges.” Shepherd University sponsors individuals in J-1 visa status as both students and scholars, and the university community also includes numerous J-2 dependents – the spouse or child (under the age of 21) of a J-1 Exchange Visitor.
There J program is quite versatile as compared to many other visa statuses in the U.S., but it also comes with restrictions that could affect your future in the U.S. This page is meant to explain the most prevalent restriction applicable to students and help you determine how they might affect you. You can also contact the Office of International Initiatives (OII) for information specific to your situation.
The Two-Year Home Residency Requirement –212(e)
The Two-Year Home Residency Requirement specifies that an individual who is subject must spend an aggregate total of two years in his or her home country before being eligible for the following visa statuses:
- Any H status (including H-1B or H-4)
- Any L status (including L-1 or L-2)
- U.S. lawful permanent residence
In addition, individuals who are subject to 212(e) may not apply to the USCIS for a change of status to any status (including F, B, or any other status). Individuals who are subject to 212(e) may exit the U.S., apply for a new visa abroad (for any status other than H, L, or lawful permanent resident), and re-enter the U.S. in the new status.
International visitors may be selected for the two-year home residency requirement based on three criteria:
- If the exchange visitor’s funding comes all or partially, directly or indirectly, from the U.S. government or a foreign government for the purpose of the J-1 program.
- If the field of the J-1 activities are on the skills list specific to his or her home country – the list of fields that the home country government requested to be included.
- The purpose of the J-1 program is for the exchange visitor to receive “graduate medical education or training.”
J-2 Dependents become subject to 212(e) if their primary status-holder, the J-1 Exchange Visitor, is subject.
Individuals who are subject to 212(e) remain subject until either the home-residency requirement is satisfied or the individual obtains a waiver. A J-2 Dependent is no longer subject to 212(e) if his or her primary status holder is granted a waiver.
If you believe that you have been selected to be subject to 212(e) by mistake (for instance, if you have been selected because of government financing, but you haven’t received government financing), or if you would like to discuss the options for a Waiver of 2 yr rule, consult with OII.