Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement

This regulation requires certain exchange visitors to return to their "home" country and be physically present there for a total of two years after completing their Exchange Visitor program in the U.S. They must complete the two years before being eligible to return to the United States in immigrant (permanent residence/green card) status, H status (temporary workers and dependents), or L status (intracompany transferees and dependents).

Not all exchange visitors are subject to the two-year rule. There are three grounds on which an exchange visitor can become subject:

  • If the exchange visitor is financed (more than a 'de minimus' amount) by the U.S. government or a foreign government for the purpose of coming to the U.S. on the J-1.
  • If the skill(s) that the visitor is coming to develop or work with are in a field that
    the visitor’s government requested to be included on the State Department’s skills list.
  • The visitor is coming to the United States to receive "graduate medical education or training." Only medical doctors are subject in this case.
Waiver of the Two year Rule

An exchange visitor may request  to waive the 2-year home country physical presence requirement on the following bases:

  • “No objection” statement from the home country.
  • Interested U.S. government agency requests a waiver.
  • Interest of a state agency.
  • Exceptional hardship to the U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child of the exchange visitor.

To learn how to apply for a waiver and for more information, go to the Department of State.

For more information please visit

IMPORTANT: If your waiver is granted, you are no longer eligible for a J program extension or transfer.

IMPORTANT: Marriage to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident or birth of a child in the United States does not remove this requirement.