Some exchange visitors with J-1 visas are subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement. The two-year home residency requirement (or 212(e), as it is referenced in the immigration regulations) means that those who come the U.S. in J-1 status cannot become permanent residents in the U.S., change status in the U.S., or get work or family-based visa status such as H, L or K until they return to their country of last permanent residence for at least two years cumulatively.
Those in J-1 status (and their J-2 dependents) can become subject if any of the following apply to the J-1 program:
1) GOVERNMENT FINANCING—— J-1 receives funding from the U.S. government, home government or an international organization to use for the J-1 program.
2) THE EXCHANGE VISITOR SKILLS LIST—— the J-1 worked or studied in a field that appears on the “skills list.” This is a list of fields of specialized knowledge and skills that are needed in the J-1’s country of last permanent residence for its development.
3) GRADUATE MEDICAL EDUCATION OR TRAINING——Exchange visitors who come to the United States to receive graduate medical education or training are subject to the 212(e) requirement.