Two Year Requirement

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J-1Exchange Visitor 

Two Year Requirement


The two-year home country physical presence requirement refers to the requirement that an exchange visitor who is within the purview of section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (substantially quoted in Sec. 62.44) must reside and be physically present in the country of nationality or last legal permanent residence for an aggregate of at least two years following departure from the United States before the exchange visitor is eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or change to another nonimmigrant status within the US


If you are subject to the 212 (e) requirement, you usually can find such notation on your DS-2019 and J visa page.

This requirement applies to those whose:

  • Exchange program was financed to some extent by the U.S. government or your home country government;
  • Skill appears in the Exchange Visitor Skills List as identified by their home country government, or;
  • Purpose in coming the U.S. was to receive graduate medical education or training.


If in doubt, please contact the International Scholar Advisor Justin Ball @ 936-294-4607;



Waiver of Two Year Requirement: Eligibility Information

J-1/J-2 who are subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement, must apply for a waiver of that requirement if they seek a change in visa status to H, L, or permanent residency in the U.S.

A waiver may be requested for five statutory bases:

  •  A claim of Exceptional Hardship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or child of an exchange visitor if you are required to return to the country of residence;
  • A claim that you will be persecuted due to race, religion, or political opinions if you return to the country of residence;
  • A request from an interested US Government Agency on your behalf;
  • A No Objection Statement from your government; and
  • A request by a designated State Health Department or its equivalent.

Participants must file an application to receive a recommendation for a waiver with the Department of State. Please refer to the regulations for details. [22 CFR 41.63]

Information about waivers may also be obtained from the Department of State's Visa Office.

The public inquiry phone line for waivers is 202-663-1225.

The Waiver Review fax number is 202-663-3899.