212 (e), Waivers, Bars

212 (e): 2 year Home Residency Requirements

Upon completion of an exchange program in the U.S., certain J scholars are required to live in their home country for a period of two years before they are eligible to apply for immigrant status (U.S. Permanent Residency or “green card”) or work visas (H, L, or K). This requirement applies if:

  • The exchange visitor’s participation in an exchange program was financed,  directly or indirectly, by the U.S. government or a foreign government for purpose of exchange
  • The skills that the exchange visitor is coming to develop or exercise in a field which the exchange visitor’s “home” government requested be included on the Department of State skill lists.
  • The exchange visitor comes to the U.S. to receive graduate medical education or training

Waiver of 212 (e)

If a J-1 is subject to the two year home country physical presence requirements, but are not able to fulfill the requirement, the individual must obtain a waiver approved by the Department of Homeland Security prior to changing status in the U.S. or being issued a visa in certain categories for travel to the U.S. To apply for the waiver, individual must file a DS-3035 form, which may be accessed through the Department of State’s website.

12 Month Bar

Individuals that participated in J program for more than six months are not eligible to enter the U.S. as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor until 12 months after the exit from the U.S. Time spent in the J-1 Short-term Scholar category does not count towards the 12 month bar.  The 12-month bar applies to both the J-1 principal and any J-2 dependents. The 12 month bar does not prevent individuals from returning to the U.S. in any other visa status.

24 Month Bar

Any individual who participates in an Exchange Visitor program in the Researcher Scholar or Professor category on or after 11/18/2006 is subject to a 24 month bar on “repeat participation” in those categories.  Scholars subject to the 24 month bar may not return to the U.S. as a J-1 scholar in the Research Scholar or Professor category for the 24 month period.  This bar also applies to J-2 dependents.
The 24 Month Bar is not the same as the Two Year Home Residence Requirement (212(e)).  The 24 month bar does not prevent individuals from returning to the U.S. in any other visa status.

Impact of the 24 Month Bar

J scholars in the Research Scholar and Professor categories will not be able to return to the U.S. as a J scholar for a 2 year period upon conclusion of their program.  When a j scholar either concludes or leaves a J-1 program, whichever happens earlier, the scholar’s record becomes inactive in SEVIS; thus making it impossible for the International Services to reactivate it.  At that point, the 24-month bar time starts to accrue.

Two Year Home Residence Requirement – 212 (e)“The Bars” 12 Month and 24 Month Bar
Focus on “Exchange”Focus on “Visitor”
May apply to any J category under certain conditions (graduate medical training, government funding, skills list)Applies only to persons seeking sponsorship in J-1 Research Scholar or Professor categories
If applicable, requires exchange visitor to go home for two years or seek waiverIf applicable, does not require person to go home.  Prohibits recurring use of these categories