The "Two-Year Rule"


In certain cases, individuals entering the US in a J-1 Exchange Visitor Status may be subject to the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement (also known as 212(e)). The Exchange Visitor will remain subject to the rule until they have resided and been physically present in the home country/country of last residence for a period of two years.

While OISSS cannot guarantee to who the rule will be applied, in most cases, Exchange Visitors in the following circumstances are subject:

  1. Exchange Visitors whose program was financed by the US or home country government.
  2. If the skills the Exchange Visitor is coming to develop are in a field that are needed in the home country (as determined by the home country government).  See the 2009 Revised Exchange Visitor Skill List for more information.   

Until the requirement is met or waived, individuals who are subject to the two-year rule are ineligible for an immigrant visa or Permanent Residency, sponsorship for H-1B status, or a change of non-immigrant status within the US.

In the last case, a J-1 subject to the rule may depart the US and return in a new Exchange Visitor category or F-1 student; however the requirement will still apply.

The two-year rule may be waived through submission of an application to the Exchange Visitor’s embassy or consulate. Please note, as this process involves the governments of the US and the home country, expect a lengthy review process.

24-Month Bar: With the recent change to the Exchange Visitor Program by the US Department of State permitting the stays of J-1 Research Scholars and Professors to extend their status to a maximum of five years, a 24 month bar on repeat participation has gone into effect.

If the Exchange Visitor completes his/her Exchange Visitor Program, ends his/her Exchange Visitor Program early, or travels outside of the United States without first discussing travel plans with the International Services Advisor, the Research Scholar or Professor may not be able to return to the US as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor for a period of 24 months.

Please note, this should not be considered to be the same as the “two-year” rule (explained above) and only applies to J-1 Exchange Visitors who enter the US in the Research Scholar or Professor category.

This page was last updated on: August 30, 2017