J-1 Exchange Visitors

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2-Year Home Country Physical Presence

Some J-1 exchange visitors and their dependents are required to return to their home country for a period of two years after completing their exchange program in the United States before they are allowed to change to H-1B status , or apply for permanent residence. This should not be confused with the 24 month bar affecting J-1 research scholars or professors. Those affected by this regulation include:

  • Individuals who received their financing for the exchange program directly or indirectly from the U.S. government or a foreign government.
  • Individuals whose occupations are highly valued in the home country and are included in the U.S. Department of State's skills list.
  • Individuals who come to the United StatesĀ for graduate medical education or training.

An exchange visitor can request a waiver of the two-year home residence requirement from the U.S. Department of State. The Department of State charges a fee for this request.

The most common method of obtaining a waiver for exchange visitors under the professor or research scholar categories is through a "no objection" statement from the home country government. This is usually handled through the exchange visitor's embassy in Washington. It is common practice for the Department of State to notify UMMC's J-1 Responsible Officer when a favorable decision has been made regarding a waiver recommendation made on behalf of an exchange visitor.

Note: Once IS receives the Department of State's notification regarding the waiver recommendation, no additional extensions of the exchange visitor's program can be granted.