|Contact Information for Office of International Students and Scholars|
Fitzgerald Student Services Building
|Address||1664 N. Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89557-0074
Certain J-1 Exchange Visitors are required to spend two years in their home country at the end of their J-1 program. J-1 Exchange Visitors subject to this requirement cannot apply for H, L, or immigrant status unless they either return to their country of nationality for two years or obtain a waiver of the requirement. A change to another non-immigrant status while in the United States is also prohibited, except to A status (diplomatic or government official) or G status (international organization). It may be possible to apply for a different nonimmigrant visa (except H or L) at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the U.S. The authority to grant such a visa lies with the individual consular officer. If a person who has had J status and has been subject to the two-year home residence requirement re-enters the U.S. in another status, they still remain subject to the two-year home country requirement.
Not all J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to the requirement. If the J-1 is subject, all J-2 dependent family members are also subject. Three criteria determine subjectivity to the home residence requirement:
Government agency officials may have marked documents indicating whether or not the J-1 exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home country requirement. First, the J-1 visa page in the passport may contain a stamp: "This person is/is not subject to Section 212(e). Section 212(e) does/does not apply." Second, the bottom left-hand corner of the DS-2019 may be notated.
These documents are often marked erroneously. If any of the three criteria listed above apply, the J-1 exchange visitor is subject to the requirement, regardless of what is marked on the documents. An advisory opinion may need to be obtained from the State Department to clarify the situation.
It may be possible for the J-1 exchange visitor and J-2 dependents to obtain a waiver of the two-year home residence requirement. The process depends on many factors and can take from three to twelve months or longer to complete. All requests are submitted to the State Department which recommends the waiver and then US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) generally approves the waiver. Caution: Once the State Department has recommended a waiver request, extensions or transfer of the J program may not be possible.
There are five methods of obtaining a waiver:
For current procedures on how to apply for a waiver please see this page on the U.S. Department of State's website.
For more information or to guide you through the process please schedule an appointment with a scholar advisor at OISS.