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212(e): Two Year Home Residency Requirement

212(e) is a mandate to encourage those on an exchange program to use that knowledge that they gained to benefit the home country. The regulation requires that exchange visitors who are subject to the two-year home country residence requirement to return to their “home” countries and be physically present there for a period of 2 years before being eligible to return to the United States in immigrant status.

How Do I know if I am Subject?

Check your visa and DS-2019 for a notation (but remember this may not be correct). An exchange visitor is subject to INA 212(e) requirement, if the following conditions exist:

  • The program in which the exchange visitor was participating was financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the United States government or the government of the exchange visitor's nationality or last residence;
  • The exchange visitor is a national or resident of a country designated as requiring the services of persons engaged in the field of specialized knowledge or skills in which the exchange visitor was engaged for the duration of their program (skills list);
  • The exchange visitor entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training.

If the exchange visitor is subject to INA 212(e) requirement, he or she cannot change his or status to that of H, L, K, or immigrant lawful permanent resident (LPR) until he or she has returned to his/her home country for at least two-years or received a waiver of that requirement.

Am I Still Subject If...?

  • I marry a US citizen? If a J-1 Exchange Visitor who is subject to the requirement marries a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, he or she is still subject to the requirement, unless a waiver is obtained or the requirement is fulfilled.
  • I came as a J-2 dependant, and the principal person was subject? If the J-1 Exchange Visitor is subject, any J-2 dependents are also subject. If the J-1 obtains a waiver, J-2 dependents are included in the waiver, unless they have held J-1 status and are subject in their own right.
  • If I get another visa or change my status? If the J-1 Exchange Visitor who is subject to the requirement goes abroad and reenters the U.S. in another visa status (e.g. F-1 Student), the individual is eligible to continue in that new status, but is still subject, unless a waiver is obtained or the requirement is fulfilled.
  • If I was subject because of sponsorship, but then changed J-1 sponsors? If the J-1 Exchange Visitor is sponsored by the Fulbright commission or another governmental or international organization which causes the Exchange Visitor to be subject, the Exchange Visitor is still subject even if he or she subsequently transfers visa sponsorship to Muskingum's Exchange Visitor Program.

Once you are subject to the 212(e) requirement, you must fulfill it or obtain a waiver before returning to the US in immigrant status. Although you are not prevented from returning in another non-immigrant status, it may make obtaining a visa somewhat more difficult. For additional information on the 2 year home residency requirement see the Department of State's web page on the Exchange Visitor Program: