212(e) Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement
Under specific circumstances, a J-1 exchange visitor may incur a Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement. The J-2 dependents are subject to this same requirement if the J-1 visa holder is subject to the requirement. This means that neither the J-1 nor the J-2 may change immigration status to H, L, or Permanent Residency without first returning to his/her country for two years or obtaining a waiver of this requirement. If the Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement applies, change of status to another non-immigrant classification, such as F-1, in the U.S. is prohibited. If the individual is subject to this requirement, the J-1 visa stamp or DS-2019 form will indicated that the bearer is subject to “212(e)”. If you belong to one of the following categories, you are most likely subject to this requirement at the end of your J-1 program:
Medical doctor sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)
You receive funding from your home government or from the U.S. Government through agencies, such as Fulbright
The Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement will not prevent you from reentering the U.S. with an F-1 student, B-1/B-2 (tourist) or J-1 student visa (or some other categories) in the future, but it will prevent you from getting an H-1B (non-immigrant employment visa) or Permanent Resident status unless the 2 year requirement is either fulfilled or waived.
For more information on applying for a waiver of the Exchange visitor Two-Year Home Country physical presence requirement, please visit the U.S. Department of State website.