Carnegie Mellon University

Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

The J Exchange Visitor Program was created to foster learning across cultures. In some cases, rules ensure that J-1 visitors will return to their home countries after completion of their U.S. program so that the home country will also benefit. Participants in a J program (students, scholars, professors, and researchers) and their dependent family members may be subject to the two-year home residency requirement for any of the following reasons:

  • Receiving direct funding from their home government or the U.S. government.
  • The participant’s training area falls under the country-specific Skills List.
  • The participant is in the U.S. to receive graduate medical education or training.

There are two ways to fulfill the two-year home residency rule:

  1. Return to your home country for two years or more.
  2. Request and receive a waiver.

To determine if you are subject to the rule, check your U.S. visa sticker and the notation on your DS-2019 from the U.S. consular officer. If you are concerned about whether your visa or DS-2019 was marked correctly, you should consult with an OIE advisor. In more complicated situations, a scholar may request confirmation from the U.S. Department of State.

The two-year home residency rule does not prevent the scholar from returning to the U.S. as a visitor, researcher, student, or in another non-immigrant status during the two years directly following the period of J-1 status in the U.S. However, until the two-year home residency requirement is fulfilled, a person may not move into a more permanent work status such as H-1B or permanent residency (i.e., green card). Also, individuals subject to the two-year home residency requirement may not file an I-539 to apply for a change of status from within the U.S. Travel is required to accomplish a change of status.

J-1 visitors who are interested in obtaining a waiver of the two-year rule must follow a formal process. There are several bases on which to apply for the waiver, including a statement of no objection, an interested U.S. government agency, or fear of persecution. Visit the U.S. Department of State website for more information on waivers.