International Students and Scholars Office

J-1 Bars

2 Year Home Residency Requirement 212(e)

The Two-Year Home Residence Requirement also known as 212(e) stipulates that a J-1 who is subject to this bar must return to their home country (last country of legal permanent residence) and physically remain there for an aggregate of two years before being eligible to return to the US as a Permanent Resident, H-1B temporary worker or dependent, or L-1 intracompany transferee or dependent. 

  • Those Exchange Visitors who are subject to the requirement are also ineligible to change their status within the US to that of Permanent Resident, H-1B, or L-1. Non-immigrant category exceptions are A (diplomatic) and G (international organization). 
  • Current or previous Exchange Visitors subject to the requirement may leave the US and apply for a visa to return in any other category except Permanent Resident, H-1B, or L-1. 
  • Dependents: If a J-1 is subject to 212(e), their J-2 is also subject. 
  • Not all scholars are subject to 212(e). Whether or not you are subject will be determined at the time of visa issuance. It will be noted on the visa stamp in your passport. 

Three conditions that will subject an Exchange Visitor to 212(e)

1. Government Funding

If Exchange Visitors are funded in whole or in part by their home country’s government, they will be subject to the Two-Year Home Residence Requirement. The same applies for those funded directly by the US government or through a US government grant designated for international exchange. Government grants that do not specify whether the funding is for international exchange do not subject an Exchange Visitor to 212(e).

Note: 212(e) typically pertains to your direct funding. If your Principal Investigator (PI) receives government funding, you may not be subject to 212(e). This is left to the discretion of the U.S. Department of State.

2. Exchange Visitor Skills List

The Exchange Visitor Skills List is a compilation of disciplines organized by country. Pursuing study or research in any of the listed fields for the visitor’s home country will subject the Exchange Visitor to the Two-Year Home Residence Requirement. If a country is not on the Skills List, then visitors from that country cannot be subjected to 212(e) based on the Skills List criteria.

Please review the most recent Skills List (2009) and for more information on previous Skills Lists.

3. Graduate Medical Education or Training

Exchange Visitors who come to the United States to receive graduate medical education or training will be subject to the Two-Year Home Residence Requirement. Graduate medical education or training generally involves patient care services under the supervision of an attending physician that leads either to an unrestricted state medical license or certification by a specialty or subspecialty board. Programs that consist of observation, consultation, teaching, or research in which there is only incidental, or no patient care are not considered graduate medical education and should not subject Exchange Visitors to 212(e).

An Exchange Visitor pursuing graduate medical education or training must be sponsored by the Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). 

Advisory Opinions & Waivers

An exchange visitor may request a free written advisory opinion from the Department of State Waiver Review Division on whether the exchange visitor is subject to Section 212(e). This can be requested when there is doubt or question about whether the exchange visitor is subject to 212(e), or when the exchange visitor may have been incorrectly found to be subject by a consular officer or immigration officer. It can only be requested if an exchange visitor is actually participating or has participated in an exchange visitor program. 

Please visit the Department of State webpage on advisory opinions for more information. 

If subject Exchange Visitors may be eligible to apply for a waiver of the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement. 

If an Exchange Visitor is subject to 212(e) and would like to change status within the United States or become an H-1B temporary worker or Permanent Resident, a waiver must be granted. The Department of State website is the best source for information regarding waivers. The Office of International Services does not advise or assist with waivers.

The Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement will not prevent you from reentering the US as an F-1/ J-1 student, B-1/B-2 tourist or other visa categories, but it will prevent you from obtaining H-1B non-immigrant employment or Permanent Residency status unless the 2 year requirement is either fulfilled or waived. 

There are four categories in which a waiver of the Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement may be granted. This information is taken from the US Department of State. 
  • No objection waiver
  • Interested U.S. government agency (IGA) waiver
  • Fear of persecution waiver
  • Exceptional hardship waiver

Dependents: If a J-1 is subject to 212(e), their dependents that enter the US in J-2 status are also subject.

Extensions & Transfers: Once the Waiver Review Division has approved your waiver request, no further extensions or transfers will be processed by the ISSO. Exchange Visitors may complete their current program through the end date listed on the most recent DS-2019.

Travel: Traveling outside of the US while one’s waiver request is pending or approved may result in the loss of your waiver.

12/ 24 Month Bars on Repeat Participation

Time spent in the US as a J-1 Exchange Visitor or J-2 dependent might affect eligibility for future J-1 status in the Research Scholar or Professor categories. These periods of ineligibility are referred to as the 12 and 24-month bars. The 12/ 24-month bars do not prevent individuals from returning to the US in any other visa status or in J categories such as short-term scholar or student. Please note that Short-term scholar, must have a new program objective.

  • Not Subject: Time spent in the student or short-term scholar category does not count towards the 12/24-month bar.
  • Transfers: Transferring to another institution to continue one’s current J-1 program does not prompt the 12/ 24-month bar.
  • Waiver: The 12/ 24-month bars cannot be waived but you may wait the required time anywhere outside of the US.
  • Dependents: If a J-1 is subject to the 12/ 24-month bar, their dependents that enter the US in J-2 status are also subject. 

12/ 24 Month Bars

Individuals who have been in the US for more than six months in the previous year in any J visa status are not eligible to re-enter the US as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor for a 12-month period. 

There are four exceptions:
  • The 12-month bar does not apply to individuals who transfer to another institution to continue their current J-1 program.
  • Presence in J status of less than 6 months.
  • Presence in J status in the “Short-Term Scholar” category.
  • The 12-month bar does not apply to individuals who are subject to the 24-month bar.

All Exchange Visitors in the Research Scholar and Professor categories are subject to a 24-month bar on repeat participation regardless of the previous program’s duration. 

Do not confuse the 24-month bar with the two-year home residence requirement (212e). These are two completely different regulations. 

  • The two-year rule (212e) may apply to visitors in any J category.
  • The 24-month bar only applies to J visa holders who enter the US in the Research Scholar or Professor categories or as their J-2 dependent. 
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