Center for Global Services
Special Bars and Restrictions Associated with J-1 Status

Two-Year Home Residence Requirement

General Information
This requirement applies only to some exchange visitors, but it may apply to a J-1 visitor in any of the four J-1 categories that Rutgers is authorized to use.
This requirement ensures that the exchange visitor's home country will benefit from the individual's experience in the United States. The two-year requirement states that the person who is subject may not change to another nonimmigrant status or to permanent resident status while in the U.S., nor re-enter the U.S. in H-1B or permanent resident status, until that person has resided for two years in his/her home country or country of legal permanent residence OR, alternatively, has requested and been granted a waiver of the two-year requirement.

Are You Subject?
A visitor may be subject to the two-year home residency requirement if:

  1. The visitor's participation in the exchange program was financed either directly or indirectly by the U.S. government or a foreign government. (Note: conducting research at Rutgers on a project funded by a U.S. government grant is not considered to be funding to you personally, either directly or indirectly, by the U.S. government.)
  2. The visitor's skills or academic discipline are in a field which the visitor's home government has included on the U.S. State Department's current Skills List.
  3. The visitor has come to the U.S. to receive graduate medical education or training.

Applying for a Waiver
Application for the waiver is made through the U.S. Department of State (DOS). DOS reviews the application and makes a recommendation on the waiver to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); the DOS sends a copy of the recommendation to the J-1 program sponsor. USCIS then makes the final decision as to whether or not to grant a waiver. If the DOS has made a positive recommendation to the USCIS, USCIS will almost always grant the waiver, and will send an approval notice to the applicant. A visitor may request a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement only under the following conditions:

  1. Exchange visitor's home country does not object to the waiver
  2. Request for the waiver is made by an interested U.S. government agency
  3. Exceptional hardship to the U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child if the exchange visitor returns to the home country
  4. Visitor would be subjected to persecution based upon race, religionU.S. State Department's current Skills List or political opinion if he/she returns to home country

The Waiver Application Process
The application and procedures to apply for a waiver may be obtained from the U.S. Department of State website.

The Effect of a Waiver Recommendation
Once the Center for International Faculty and Student Services receives a copy of the DOS waiver recommendation to the USCIS, the exchange visitor is no longer eligible for further extensions of stay or transfer of J-1 sponsorship from Rutgers to another J-1 sponsor, although he or she may continue in the current J program for the remainder of time on the current DS-2019.

Consult with your International Faculty & Scholar Adviser regarding the timing of a waiver application, so it does not unnecessarily jeopardize eligibility for extension of stays or program transfers.

A Cautionary Note about Waiver Recommendations and Waivers
When the DOS recommends a waiver to the USCIS, the recommendation (and subsequent waiver) applies only to the J-1 program(s) the J-1 visitor initially listed on his or her J-1 waiver application. If the J-1 visitor should somehow transfer to a new J-1 program after the DOS has recommended a waiver, the waiver will not apply to the new program, and the J-1 visitor may be subject to the 2-year home residence requirement all over again.


The Two-Year Bar

This rule applies ONLY to J-1s with DS-2019s in the "Professor" or "Research Scholar" category. The maximum period of participation for an Exchange Visitor in either the "Professor" or "Research Scholar" category is 5 years. However, regardless of whether a specific visitor's actual program runs a full five years or less, at the end of the actual program the Exchange Visitor is barred from returning to the U.S. in either the "Professor" or "Research Scholar" category for a full 2 years (24 months) from actual program end date.

The 12-Month Bar

This rule applies ONLY to prospective J-1s who intend to visit the U.S. in the "Professor" or "Research Scholar" category. A J-1 visitor is not eligible to begin a new visit to the U.S. in either the J-1 "Professor" or "Research Scholar" category if he or she has been physically present in the United States in J-1 or J-2 status in any category (other than J-1 "short term scholar") for any part of the 12-month period immediately preceding the new DS-2019 start date unless at least one of the following is true: