What is the Restriction?
The two-year home return restriction, or 212(e), specifies that a J-1 exchange visitor must return and be present in their home country for two years prior to participating in the J-1 program again or requesting a change of status to H, L, or Permanent Resident (PR). The J-1 can return to the US in another status that is not H, L, or PR or may apply for other visas such as F-1 student. However, the visitor must leave the U.S. to complete the change of status.
Who is Subject to 212 (e)?
An exchange visitor may be subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement on one or more of the following bases:
Relief from 212 (e)
Exchange Visitor Program participants who are subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement, as established by Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), must apply for a waiver of the requirement if they seek to remain in the U.S. beyond the end date of their programs or if they seek to submit an application to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for a change in status.
A waiver may be requested on one of the five statutory bases listed below.