On October 24, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued policy guidance related to the 2-year Foreign Residence requirement for certain J exchanger visitors. The guidance clarifies 1) how USCIS determines whether the requirement has been met and 2) the evidence a benefit requestor may submit to show compliance with the requirement among other issues.
What is the 2-year Foreign Residence Requirement?
Some J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to a 2-year foreign residence requirement. This is sometimes referred to as the 212.e requirement. This restriction on the J-1 exchange program requires certain Exchange Visitors to return to their “home” countries for a total of 2 years before being eligible to apply for the following:
- An adjustment of status inside the U.S. (except to A and G statuses); or
- A nonimmigrant H, L, or K visa; or
- U.S. permanent residence
Who is subject to the 2-year Foreign Residence Requirement?
The Department of State (DOS) determines who is subject to the 212(e) 2-year home country residence requirement based on several factors including the following:
- The exchange visitor’s participation in an exchange program being government-funded
- The exchange visitor is coming to develop or exercise specific skills
- The exchange visitor is coming to receive graduate medical education or training
If you are unsure whether you are subject to this requirement, check your DS-2019 or visa.
What did the recent guidance address?
Among several changes, the USCIS guidance clarifies that, “a travel day, where a fraction of the day is spent in the country of nationality or last residence, counts towards satisfaction of the 2-year foreign residence requirement.”