212(e) Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement

212(e) Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement

Some J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to a requirement known as the “two-year home residency requirement”, or 212(e), following the end of their J-1 program. This rule requires some J-1 Exchange Visitors (and their J-2 dependents) to spend an aggregate of two years, physically present in their country of lawful permanent residency following the end of their J-1 program before they are eligible for the following benefits: 

  • H visa (temporary workers and dependents), an L visa (intracompany transferees and dependents), or a K visa (fiancé and dependents); statuses
  • Lawful permanent residency (aka “green card”)
  • A change of status from within the U.S. to any other nonimmigrant category except A (diplomatic), G (international organization), or U (victims of qualifying criminal activity) statuses.

Note: Exchange Visitors subject to the two-year home residency requirement are eligible to leave the U.S. and apply for visas to return in other nonimmigrant statuses such as tourists or F-1 students as long as they are otherwise eligible for those visas. The two-year home residency requirement is uniquely different from the 12 and 24 month bars on repeat participation. A J-1 Exchange Visitor may be subject to a repeat participation bar and the two-year home residency requirement, just one of these requirements, or none of these requirements. Consult an OIS advisor if you are unsure which, if any, of these regulations apply.