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International Scholar Relations

Physical Presence Requirement

J-1 Visiting Scholars

Some International Scholar Program participants and family members who were admitted to the U.S. or who adjusted their visa status to J after admission must return home for a minimum of two years after completing their educational or cultural exchange program before they can change or adjust their status. This requirement applies to those whose:  

  • Exchange program was financed to some extent by the U.S. Government or by their home country government;
  • Skill appears in the International Scholar Skills List as identified by their home country government; or
  • Purpose in coming to the United States was to receive graduate medical education or training.

Not all J-1 International Scholars are subject to this requirement. J-1 International Scholars, who are subject to Requirement 212(e), must return to their county of legal permanent residence and reside there (not in a third country) for two years after the completion of their J-1 Program or apply and receive a waiver of this requirement before they are eligible for an H-1B, L-1 or Permanent Residency (Green Card). Changes of immigrant status within the US are also not possible unless this requirement is waived.  If you are subject to the two-year home residency requirement (212 (e) rule, it will be noted on your J-1 visa.


Two-Year Presence Waiver

J-1 International Scholars may request a waiver of the two-year presence requirement under the following conditions:

  • A “no objection” statement submitted by your country’s embassy (most common method of application for a waiver);
  • Interest of a United States government agency in your work;
  • Exceptional hardship to your spouse or an unmarried minor child who is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States;
  • Fear of persecution because of your race religion, political opinions, or nationality.

Information on obtaining a waiver of the two year home residency requirement is available at: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/study-exchange/student/residency-waiver.html

NOTE: If the Department of State has made a favorable recommendation to the USCIS regarding your waiver request, you are no longer considered a J-1 participant. You may complete the duration shown on the current DS-2019 form, but you are not eligible for an extension or transfer beyond that date even though you have not completed five years in International Scholar (J-1) status.


J-2 Dependents Info

  • J-2 Dependents of J-1 may be employed after receiving authorization from USCIS.
  • J-2 Dependents are subject to the Two Year Home Residency Requirement (212 (e) when the J-1 is subject.
  • J-2 dependents cannot remain in the US after the J-1 completes their program or if J-1 is out of the country for more than one month.
  • J-2 dependents can study full-time or part-time, and are required to have health insurance equivalent to the standards set for the J-1.

Waivers Review Branch Contact Info

  • Waiver Review Public Inquiry Number: (202) 663-1225
  • Waiver Review FAX number: (202) 663-8666
  • Micro log number for status check on waiver requests: (202) 663-1600
Updated:  August 2015