University of Houston-Victoria

International Programs

Two Year Home Residency Requirements and Waivers

Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement
Many J-1 exchange visitors are subject to a Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement.* Because the J-1 Program is an exchange program, the Department of State requires that some Exchange Visitors return home at the end of their program for a minimum of 2 years. This is to encourage and foster an exchange of ideas between the 2 countries.

If you are subject to this rule, then you must return to your country of citizenship or your country of last legal permanent residence after your J-1 program is completed. You must remain there for an aggregate of two years before being eligible to return to the U.S. If you do not fulfill this requirement, you will not be approved for H, L, or Permanent Residence. This requirement remains in place until you have either fulfilled the rule or you have received a waiver of the requirement.

Who is subject to the Home Country Physical Presence Requirement
There are quite characteristics that will make a J-1 holder subject to the Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement.

  1. The U.S. Department of State created the Skills List, which is a list of fields and specialized knowledge specifying what applicants from certain countries and in certain fields need. This list was agreed upon by the countries on the list. If you are a resident or citizen of a country that is on the Skills List, and your field appears on that list, then you will be subject to the Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement.
  2. Home Government Funding: If you received funding from your government, you will be subject to the Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement.
  3. U.S. Government Funding: If you received funding from the U.S. government (e.g. Fulbright, Fogarty, UGRAD, etc.), then you are also subject to the Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement. It is very difficult to obtain a waiver if you have received U.S. government funding.
  4. Foreign Medical Graduates: If you are in the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) program, then you are subject to the Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement. It is very difficult to obtain a waiver in this case.

How do I know If I have the Home Residency Physical Presence Requirement?
Be extra cautious when trying to determine if you are subject to the Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement. When completing your visa application, the consular officer often marks on your DS-2019 if you are subject to the Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement. It may also be marked on your visa. Oftentimes these markings are incorrect and should not be the only criteria used in determining whether your are subject to this rule. When in doubt, always request an advisor’s opinion.

*This rule is located in section 212(e) in the Immigration and Nationality Act, the law that covers topics related to immigration and citizenship, which is why you will hear this rule referred to as the 212(e).