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What is the 2-year J-1 visa home country residency requirement?

By December 9, 2020April 30th, 2021Immigration
Image courtesy of WikiCommons, labeled for reuse, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/91/Southern_Arkansas_University_Biology_student_with_microscope.jpg

Participants of some J-1 visa programs are subject to a 2 year home residency requirement. This means, that the J-1 visa participants will have to return to their home country for at least 2 years after the completion of the exchange visitor program before they are able to obtain a green card or certain non-immigrant visas.

Who is subject to the 2-year home country residency requirement?

Not all J-1 program participants are subject to the 2-year home country residency requirement. You are subject to this requirement if:


  1. Your J-1 program was financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by the U.S. government or your home country government/the government of country of your last permanent residence;
  2. At the time you came to the U.S., you were a national/permanent resident of a country that listed your J-1 position on the “Visitor Skills list”;
  3. You came to the U.S. to receive graduate medical education or training.

What does it mean that I am subject to the 2 year J-1 visa requirement?

If you are subject to the 2-year home country residency requirement you can either:


  • Return to your home country or the country where you permanently resided before you entered the U.S. on a J-1 visa and spend there at least 2 years.

Please note that the 2 years are counted as an aggregate and you don’t have to reside in your home country for 2 years continuously.


You are a national of France. You are subject to the 2 year home country residency requirement and after your J-1 program finished, you came back home to France. You spent 12 months in France, then you moved to Bali for 4 months, and then came back to France and spent there another 12 months. This is completely fine, and you will satisfy with the 2 year home residency requirement in this scenario as it is not required that you reside in France for 24 consecutive months.

Please note that if you are a national of France and you resided in France before you entered the U.S. on a J-1 visa, then you will have to reside for 24 months in France.

On the other hand, if you are a national of France but before you entered the U.S. you had been living for 5 years in Germany (and you are also a permanent residence of Germany), then you would have to spend the 24 months in Germany.


  • Apply for a waiver (BLOG POST TO FOLLOW)

Until you comply either with the 2 year home country residence requirement or until you obtain a waiver, you cannot:


  • Apply for a Green card;
  • Apply for an Immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad;
  • Apply for an H-1 or L-1 visa;
  • Change status in the U.S. to H-1 or L-1 category;
  • H-4 or L-2;
  • K-1 fiancé visa.

However, you can still apply for the following visas even if you are subject to the 2 year home requirement:


Please see more about this topic when you click here.

Does this mean that I cannot visit the U.S. for 2 years?

No. You can still visit the U.S. for example as a B-2 tourist visitor after your J-1 program finished.

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