How to waive your 2 year home residency requirement

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Whenever I hear words “2 year rule”, my heart starts to ache. In my J1 visa history, I was subject to the infamous 2 year rule twice, and I can tell you that being “subject”, as immigration lawyers call it, is not fun. So I will do my best to share tips on how to waive your 2 year home residency requirement, also known as the two year rule.

It’s true, in both cases I knew what I was getting myself into (and if you ever consider getting any type of J1 visa, I sure hope you know about this rule ahead of time). I also understood that the purpose of any J1 exchange program is to “give back” to one’s home country. I just don’t like the unsettling feeling of being forced to give back two years of my life by being subject to this wonderful rule.

In future posts I will go over some common myths, misconceptions and intricacies about the 2 year rule but this post is solely about the many ways on how to waive your 2 year home residency requirement, particularly if you are subject to it based on the Exchange Visitor Skills List.

How can I tell if I am subject to the 2 year rule?

Though the US Department of State and USCIS will be the ones to make a final determination on whether you are “subject” or not, go grab your passport with the J1 visa stamp and your form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status).

If your visa stamp looks like this and says “Bearer is subject to INA 212(e) ” then you are subject. (INA being Immigration and Nationality Act and 212(e) being the section of the act that talks about who should and who should not be subject to this wonderful rule.)

2 year rule on J1 visa

If your J1 visa looks like this and says “Not subject to two-year residence requirement” then you are most likely not “subject”. Sigh with relief and have a beer. The rest of you, dear “subjects”, read on. You may also want to read on to find out why you could still be subject even though your J1 visa says you are not.

J1 visa two year rule does not apply

To double-check things, take a look at your DS-2019.

two year rule applies

You are “subject” if it has a check mark next to words “Subject to two-year residence requirement” and another check mark directly below it indicating the basis for the 2 year rule:

A. Government Financing

If at any point in your life you participated in a J1 exchange program that was funded in whole or in part by a U.S. Government agency, your home country’s government, or an international organization that received funding from the U.S. Government or your home country’s government, you will be subject to the 2 year rule based on Government Financing, one of the hardest cases to get the waiver.

Since most of you fund your own J-1 program by paying program fees to IIUSA, the good news is that this section will likely not apply to you. It applied to me when I was doing a summer internship at the university in the US and got a scholarship from the US State Department to take part in this 2-month program. Essentially, the US government gave me $3,500 USD which I had to pay off with 2 years of my life thanks to the two year rule.

Since the amount of funding for my program was so small, there was literally no way for me to waive my 2 year rule. General rule of thumb is that the more “important” your program and the more funding you receive, the easier it is to obtain the waiver. Long story short, I ended up returning to my home country for 2 years. 2 years of life for $3,500? An unfair deal, I thought 2 years of my life would be worth much more than that.

If I had only known of the opportunities in the US that would come my way right after that summer program, I would have never ever taken part in it.


if you are about to commit your life to a government-funded J1 exchange program like  Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program, Fulbright program, FLEX program and the like, please keep in mind that the 2 year rule will prevent you from doing certain things in the US like applying for permanent residence and getting your H1B employment visa.

Lesson learned: nothing is free, especially when it comes to US government funding.

B. The Exchange Visitor Skills List

If you took part in a J1 exchange program involving a field of specialized knowledge that has been designated as “in demand” by the government of your home country and if this field appears on State Department’s Exchange Visitor Skills List for your home country, then you are subject to the 2 year rule based on the skills list.

If your country does not appear on this list, you cannot be subject to the 2 year rule based on the skills list.

If you are an intern and your DS form says you are “subject”, in all likelihood, this is the section of the DS-2019 that will be check-marked by the US embassy official during your J-1 visa interview. Skills list cases are the most common 2 year rule cases for J1 interns and trainees across the board, IIUSA interns including. Good news is that they are usually the easiest cases to work with and the likeliest ones to obtain the 2 year rule waiver.

C. PL 94-484

PL 94-484 refers to Health Professions Educational Assistance Act of 1976, also known as Public Law 94-484, which makes it very difficult for physicians on J1 status to get the 2 year rule waiver. Since we don’t deal with foreign physician exchanges, this section does not apply to IIUSA program participants and we won’t discuss it any further.

To conclude,

  • if neither of the above mentioned sections is checked


  • your DS form looks like this

DS 2019 two year rule does not apply

with a check mark next to words “Not subject to the two-year residence requirement”


  • if your J1 visa stamp says that you are not “subject”

then you are not subject to the 2 year rule. You can also determine whether you are subject by taking an online survey on US State Department’s online J1 waiver page (click “Complete a Survey”).

The funny part

Now, get ready for the funny part. Sometimes US embassy officials make mistakes and mark you as “subject” when you are not and vice versa. Which is why if there is any discrepancy between annotations on your J1 visa stamp and your DS-2019, you should request an Advisory Opinion from the Department of State.

How to request advisory opinion on your two year rule

It’s actually very easy and very cheap. All you have to do is send a letter to State Department’s Waiver Review Division asking them to verify whether you are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement. The request must be signed by you and sent to the State Department by mail (no electronic or faxed requests accepted).

Include the following items with your advisory opinion request:

  • legible copies of every/all forms DS-2019/IAP-66 ever issued to you*
  • a cover letter signed by you requesting State Department’s advisory opinion on whether you are “subject”
  • a self-addressed, stamped envelope

Mail your advisory opinion request to:

INA 212(e) Advisory Opinion Request
Waiver Review Division, CA/VO/L/W
U.S. State Department
2401 E Street, NW
SA-1, L-603
Washington, D.C. 20522-0106

They will review your case and determine whether you are REALLY “subject” within 4 to 6 weeks. Whatever their decision, it will come back to you in the self-addressed, stamped envelope you provided so don’t forget to include it with your request and keep checking your mail. You can also check the status of your case online at the J1 visa waiver status page. Make sure you have your case number handy.

* If you participated in any J1 programs prior to September 1, 2002, you were given form IAP-66 instead of the DS-2019, which looks like this:

iap 66 form

Can I always waive the 2 year rule?

No, unfortunately, not all J1 participants who are “subject” are able to waive this rule. In my government funding case I couldn’t. After trying to waive the rule for over a year I stopped trying when one of the many immigration attorneys I was working with at the time recommended the 2 year rule expert from Washington whose entire practice was based on obtaining 2 year rule waivers for his clients (I do not want his job!).

He reviewed my case and in a very fatherly manner advised me to stop racking my brain, wasting money on consultation fees and just go home to get this rule over with as soon as I can before it interferes with my family life.

In case you were wondering, marriage to a US citizen or winning the green card lottery does not cancel out your 2 year rule.

Once subject, always subject, immigration attorneys say.

If you get married to the US citizen, you will be given permanent residence only after you have served your 2 year rule. If you win a green card, you will be allowed to move into the US permanently only after having served your 2 year rule.

On the bright side, for most of you, IIUSA interns, applying for the waiver is a mere bureaucratic formality, and in most cases you will obtain the waiver relatively painlessly.

How much does it cost to waive the 2 year rule?

The US State Department charges a non-refundable fee of $215.00 dollars to review your waiver case.

With your waiver application, please enclose either a check or money order made payable to the U.S. Department of State that includes:

  • Your waiver case number (I am discussing it further in the post so read on)
  • Your full name (as it appears on your passport and DS-2019);
  • Your date and place of birth; and
  • Your social security number, if you have one.

Things to Remember About the Waiver Fee Payment

  • Your check or money order must be in US dollars and must come from a bank located in the United States.
  • If you reside outside the U.S., you can pay the fee in US dollars via international money order or a foreign draft drawn on an institution in the U.S.
  • You must submit the fee payment together with your waiver application otherwise your application will not be reviewed and the fee will be returned.
  • Additional fees are not required for J-2 dependents (spouses, children) included on your waiver application.

Steps to take to apply for the 212(e) waiver

STEP 1 – Complete the Online J Visa Waiver Recommendation Application (DS-3035)

Note that you must complete the form online. If you fill it out by hand, the State Department reserves the right to completely ignore your case file, return all your documents to you without reviewing them and still charge you the $215 fee.

After you complete the form online, the system will generate a barcode and you will be issued a waiver case number. Write that number down somewhere as you will need it to check your waiver application status and write it on all the supporting documents going out to the Waiver Review Division. Print your form DS-3035 with the barcode using black and white ink.

STEP 2 – Mail your Waiver Application and Fee Payment

If you are using regular postal service, mail it to:

U.S. Department of State
Waiver Review Division
P.O. Box 952137
St. Louis, MO 63195-2137

If you are using commercial courier service, mail it to:

U.S. Department of State
Waiver Review Division
(Box 952137)
1005 Convention Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63101-1200

STEP 3 – Submit Supporting Documents (Skills List Cases Only)

In skills list cases, the government of intern’s home country must issue a No Objection Statement through its Embassy in Washington, DC stating that

  • it has no objection to you not returning to your home country to satisfy the two-year requirement
  • it has no objection to the possibility of you becoming a U.S. lawful permanent resident.

The No Objection Statement must be sent directly to the Waiver Review Division. It should not be mailed to you personally.

Note that the home country here means the country of which you were a citizen when you got your J1 visa with the 2 year rule. For example, I can be a citizen of the United Kingdom right now but if I got my J1 visa with the 2 year rule when I was a citizen of South Korea, I have to serve the rule in South Korea, not the UK.

If your embassy does not provide such services, the No Objection Statement may alternatively be issued by a designated ministry in your home country and forwarded to the U.S. Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section in your home country. The U.S. Embassy will then forward it directly to the Waiver Review Division.

Supporting documents from foreign embassies and govertments and other third parties must be sent to the following address:

U.S. Department of State
Visa Services
Waiver Review Division
2401 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20522-0106

STEP 4 – Check your Waiver Request Status

Good news is that you can always check the status of your waiver case by visiting the J1 Visa Waiver Online page and selecting “Check the status.” After you have entered your case number, the system will indicate if your DS-3035 online application, fee payment and supporting documents have been received. The system will also inform you if any required documents are missing or incomplete. Wait for approximately one month from the time all documents were submitted before checking your status online.

STEP 5 – What to Do If the Waiver Review Division Requests More Information

If the Waiver Review Division requests more information or additional documents from you, they will get in touch with you using the contact information you provided on your DS-3035. If for any reason your email or physical addresses change during the waiver review process, go back to the J1 Visa Waiver Online page, select “Inform the Department of State” and update your information online.

Forward all the requested documents to the following address:

U.S. Department of State
Visa Services
Waiver Review Division
2401 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20522-0106

NOTE: use this address only for sending additional information when requested. Do not use this address when first submitting your waiver application and fee payment.

STEP 6 – Processing Times

Processing time for No Objection Statement cases is 6 to 8 weeks.

STEP 7 – Department of State Recommendation and Final Determination by USCIS

Once the Department of State concludes the review process, they will forward its recommendation directly to USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). You will receive a copy of that recommendation in the mail.

Officially it is not State Department but USCIS that will make the final determination on your waiver request notify you directly at the address you provided. Once the Waiver Review Division has sent its recommendation to USCIS, you must contact USCIS directly to find out the status of your case.

If the USCIS denies your waiver request, you are considered subject to the 2 year rule and must “act accordingly”, says the Department of State. Which basically means that you eventually have to return to your home country to serve the 2 year rule.

Can I appeal the denied 2 year rule waiver request?

Short answer is no, you cannot appeal to the Waiver Review Division to reconsider your waiver request. They consider all the review decisions final BUT they do say that you can apply for the waiver using another basis for your request (if you are eligible for it) such as Persecution and Exceptional Hardship or Interested Government Agency (IGA).

I think this is more than enough information on the 2 year rule for one post. I will come back to the topic soon to share more tips and stories on the subject of being subject (pun intended).

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International education will change the world! J1 visas, F1 visas, OPT - been there, done that. Worked for a J1 sponsor, owned a technology business. Trail runner. Love search engines and Soviet history. Have a question about internship programs? Let's connect!

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215 Responses
  • Feb 2, 2014

    Hello Tanya,

    I loved your post and thanks for the information.
    I have some questions, answers of which I am not able to find anywhere.

    I am from India and currently pursuing a J1 trainee program in Arizona in the field of Information Technology. Unfortunately I am subject to 212 (e). I have some concerns which are killing me from inside and would be really glad if you could share your perspective:

    a) I am planning to study in the US and have already received admits from some decent universities. Will I be able to work on OPT with the 2 year rule still being unfulfilled?

    b) My J1 visa ends in 2017, however my 18 months program ends in April 2014. Can I make use of the extra 3-4 years I have on my Visa?

    Thanks you very much,


    Sourabh Dua Feb 2, 2014
    • Feb 2, 2014

      Hi Sourabh, a) yes, you will be able to work on OPT and you will also be able to change to H1B status but you will not be able to get the actual H1B visa and you will obviously be subject to the two year rule after that because “once subject, always subject”. b) If your actual program (and, hence, legal status) ends in April 2014, your visa will technically be considered annulled. Always remember that your DS-2019 will be used as proof of your legal status, not the visa. In your case I’m assuming your DS form end date is April 2014.

      Tanya McTavish Feb 2, 2014
  • Sunil
    Feb 12, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    It’s kind request for you to communicate me the exact procedure to calculate the number of days required to spend against “Two-Year Home Country Residency Requirement”. In my case following are the details,

    • I went to US for 10 weeks educational program as a ‘Fulbright’ under J-1 visa on May 24, 2009. I came back India on Aug 6, 2009. Then I was in India till 31st May 2010 i.e. 10 months

    • Then my parent company transferred me to UK. I went to UK under company transfer from June 1, 2010 and was there till May 31, 2013. During this period I came number of times in India on Business as well as on personal holidays. Cumulatively total 4 months in 3 years.

    • Now my company wants to transfer (under intra company transfer-L1A) me in US subsidiary to take higher responsibility in US.

    • However to fulfil 2-years home residency requirement, I returned to India on June 1, 2013 to complete remaining 10 month stay.

    Will you please communicate me how the calculations are done to understand the completion of 2-years home residency requirement? Is it the number of days physically spent in India and can be calculated cumulatively so as to complete 732 days in total? If I am not wrong it is not essential to have 2 years stay continuously uninterrupted and total days from the day I left US i.e Aug, 6 2009 are taken into consideration.

    Also during the stay in India, if I went overseas on business tour for a week, will it be considered this week under home residency or it will not be taken into home residency stay.

    I will be highly grateful if you reply my query.

    Thanks and Regards,


    Sunil Feb 12, 2014
    • Feb 13, 2014

      Hi Sunil,

      You need to have been physically present in India for a total of two years. Physical presence doesn’t have to be cumulative so your 10 months + 4 months count towards the two year rule. If you go on a business trip for a week, in theory those days don’t count because you are out of the country but in reality nobody will bother to deduct these short trips. However, if I were you, I would have copies of any documents proving that you were in India during your 4 months of visiting and 10 months after Fulbright. They may or may not ask for these supporting documents during your L visa processing. Best of luck! Tanya

      Tanya McTavish Feb 13, 2014
  • Suman
    Feb 13, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    I have couple questions regarding my Visa Status. I am on J-1 Visa and also subjected to 2yrs rule. I graduated from BYU-Hawaii, and doing my Academic Training which lasts in June 2014 with 18 months. Is there any possible way that I can stay another 4-5 months as my wife is due with the baby in August 1st week.

    Suman Feb 13, 2014
    • Feb 13, 2014

      Hi Suman, unless you’ve secured an H1B visa status, I’m afraid there is no way to stay beyond your OPT (I’m assuming that’s what you are on). Note also that after your OPT you are eligible to remain in the States for up to 60 days. It’s called grace period but note that during grace period you are not authorized to work or study. Tanya

      Tanya McTavish Feb 13, 2014
  • Sunil
    Feb 17, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    Thank you so much for your positive reply. Just another question, as you have mentioned about the copies of the supporting documents. If passport entry and exit stamp is sufficient or do I need different documents to prove my stay in India? If so will you please tell me which documents I need to keep ready? I have copies of all flight e-tickets with me apart from passport stamps. Few boarding passes are there but not all. Do I need my Indian home related documents like utility bills etc.

    Thanks once again and final confirmation on above.



    Sunil Feb 17, 2014
    • Feb 18, 2014

      Hi Sunil, yes, passport stamps and e-ticket copies are great to have. This should suffice, and if for some reason they ask for extra supporting documents, then you can just ask them what they would like to see. Tanya

      Tanya McTavish Feb 18, 2014
  • Sunil
    Feb 18, 2014

    Many thanks Tanya! Great help. Really appreciated.

    Sunil Feb 18, 2014
  • elio
    Mar 1, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    thank you for your help, as I’m convincing myself that I might have to go through the waiver process, your post is extremely helpful, much more than what you usually find on University dedicated websites.

    I’m trying to figure if I’m actually still subjected to the two year rule. Long story short, 7 years ago i came to the US for ~6 months on a J1 (two year apply), went back home for 7 months, then back to the US on a different J1 (two year no apply) during which I briefly left to get an F1 to start graduate school.

    Both my old J1 visa in my passport have been stamped with a “CANCELLED WITHOUT PREJUDICE” stamp. I have to believe that the 2 year rule, because the first J1, is still hanging on my head. What do you think?

    I’m now on the first 12 months of OPT, me futur employer is willing to get me an H1B but it will not be possible if I’m still subject to the 212 (e), which case I’ll have to to apply for a STEM extension and the waiver at the same time and then go from there.

    Thank you very much for your help and thanks again for the useful info.



    elio Mar 1, 2014
    • Mar 1, 2014

      Hi Elio, you are right. Once subject, always subject. So the two year rule for the J1 program 7 years ago still makes you subject to the home residency requirement today. (Is that the meanest thing ever or what?). Your options are to return home and serve the remaining 17 months of the two year rule or apply for a waiver – if you were not subject to the 2 year rule based on government funding, it is very possible to obtain a waiver. Government funding cases, however, are extremely hard to get a waiver for. Best of luck. Tanya

      Tanya McTavish Mar 1, 2014
  • elio
    Mar 1, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    thank you so much for your quick feedback, and yes…its mean indeed and I believe that the 2 year rule was applied because I was on government funding from my country . I’ll have to apply for a waiver and see how that goes, I don’t have other alternatives. I know I could still have 17 months here and if the waiver get denied, well, no much I can do but just try to get the best I can out of this experience.

    Thanks again, I really appreciate your help.


    elio Mar 1, 2014
    • Mar 1, 2014

      You can check your DS-2019 for the program 7 years ago to determine the basis for the 2 year rule. In my government funding case, I had to return to my home country and actually ended up having a great time both personally and professionally, so much so that I oftentimes think of returning back home. Either way, keep your chin up and, like you said, make the best of it, wherever you end up.

      Also note that if you are in the States on a status other than J1, your H1B/L change of status petition can be filed BEFORE the 2 year rule is served/the waiver obtained. The kicker is that even if you obtain the H1B/L status, you won’t be able to get the actual H1B visa at any US consulate abroad unless you obtain the two year rule waiver. Which essentially means you will be stuck in the US. If you leave the US, you will not be able to get the US visa to come back – not the best scenario, if you ask me.

      Another thing to remember is that you can always go to the consulate and apply for an O, E and F visa while still being subject to the two year rule, however, that does not take away the two year rule, which means that you will still remain subject and will have to serve it or waive it some day, even if it’s 10 years from now. Gosh, I love the 2 year rule :)

      Tanya McTavish Mar 1, 2014
  • elio
    Mar 1, 2014

    Wow, lots of info to digest right there, you’re amazing. I would like to return home too but the opportunity that’s outlining for me here in the US is pretty big (if all works out) and you know, it would be nice to go home once in a while anyway, all my family is there so yeah, being stuck here it’s not ideal.

    The first DS-2019 has a nice and big check on the government funding box, yay! Knowing that there are more alternatives makes it less annoying but still, gotta deal with it. I’ll try with the waiver and I will go from there.

    Thanks a lot again.


    elio Mar 1, 2014
    • elio
      Oct 22, 2014

      Hi Tanya, since this website was so helpful for me I wanted to give my two cents and an update on my original message.

      As I mentioned earlier, I was subjected to the two year rule because of government fundings from my own country so I went ahead and applied for the waiver based on the “No objection statement”. Not quite sure what the dynamics of every country is but for my case, Italy, getting the no-objection statement, even if it took some time, was quite straightforward and the Embassy has a good and quick interaction, providing feedback at every step up till the letter is issued. Of course the final words was on the DoS and USCIS, which just informed me today that my request was approved.

      I know and you told me before that the waiver when you have government fundings is harder to get but I believe that when the fundings comes from your home country things might be less prohibitive (also one of my spanish friend had the waiver approved for the same reason only little before me).

      So…now its time for me to get my paperwork ready for the H-1B. Thank you so much for your help and setting up this page, it has been very helpful for me and surely helped during my quest to get the waiver!

      Best regards.


      elio Oct 22, 2014
    • Kiara
      May 19, 2015

      Hi Elio!

      I really need to talk with you! I am from Italy and had a J1 for a Fulbright teaching assistantship this year. I applied for the waiver based on the “No objection statement” and just today I received a mail from the Embassy in DC in which they say they are processing the documents to ask for a waiver to MIUR and they said once they will get that they will send the No objection statement to DoS.

      Did you have to demonstrate you had a job offer already or some letters of recomendation to let them accept you? Where you a Fulbright?

      Please contact me

      Kiara May 19, 2015
  • Sunil
    Mar 3, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    Thanks once gain for your help so far. I need few more details from you.

    As I mentioned earlier currently I am in India to complete my 2 years home residency stay. Now I am 85 days short of 732 days. There after I will go back to UK to continue my job over there. My subsidiary company in US (where I am going to work in future) now going for blanket petition (L1)so that they don’t have to go against each individual all the time. Once they have the blanket approval, is it mandatory for me to go back with my family in India and attend the interview or shall I complete DS-160 and take the appointment at London US embassy which will be easy for me and my family? What is the rule says? whether I have to attend at US embassy where I am working (London) or I have to take the visa from my home country? Request to have your views.

    Thanks and Regards,


    Sunil Mar 3, 2014
    • Mar 3, 2014

      Hi Sunil, there is no strictly enforced rule on which US embassy to go to. They always say on embassy websites that it is recommended that you interview at the embassy in your home country but many people go to Canada for interviews, for example, if they are working in the United States and just need to extend their US visas. Plus with your job in London it wouldn’t make sense for them to have a problem with you applying for the US visa there. It’s not like you just showed up in London for no reason and decided to apply for the visa. So you should be fine. Tanya

      Tanya McTavish Mar 3, 2014
  • Sunil
    Mar 4, 2014

    Thanks Tanya! This will certainly help me to move ahead. I really appreciate your help…..Regards,….Sunil…

    Sunil Mar 4, 2014
  • Olli
    Mar 6, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    I have a few questions regarding the 2-year rule, would appreciate if you can help me:

    1) I am subject to two years as being a former Fulbright grantee on J-1 visa, I returned to my home country a few months ago. I have cumulatively completed around 180 days out of the 730 days so far, and it seems like I will complete the remaining days by the beginning of September 2015. However, my employer in my home country is asking me to travel abroad on business trips (as they are headquartered in a different country), I will have to spend one week every month (or at least every two months) abroad. My question is, even if my residency is in my home country, would such frequent business trips, which are mandated by my employer, impact the 2-year fulfillment date I mentioned above? I.e. will those days spent on business trips be considered against the 2-years? (As a proof, I can get signed documents from my employer stating that business trips are requested by them)

    2) I will be seeking employment in the US next year, and I will need my new employer to file a H1B petition by the April 2015 deadline, so I was wondering whether my H1B petition would be rejected as I won’t have the 2-years completed by April 2015, or can I still get my petition approved in April?

    3) As I mentioned in my first question, I might not be eligible to get an H1B prior to the October 1st start date (if the business trips abroad are not counted towards the 2 years). Assuming that I got my petition approved in April 2015 and applied for the visa at the consulate, what will be the likely consequence of being short of a month to be eligible for the October start date? Will the consular officer reject to issue me a visa right away, or will I be able to get an amendment to the start date — not October 1st but November 1st, for example?

    Some people are saying that two-year home residency rule means physical presence in the home country, but I don’t understand why business trips would stop the clock when I am still residing in my home country but asked to travel abroad on duty…

    Thanks so much for your help.

    Olli Mar 6, 2014
    • Mar 6, 2014

      Hi Olli,

      1. Technically, any time spent outside your home country does not count toward your two year rule. In reality, however, I don’t think this is something that is checked/strictly enforced. If you were traveling for extended periods of time or were requested by your company to relocate abroad for 6 months for some sort of project, then it’s another story. There is a slight chance that the embassy/national visa center has a problem with your short trips – if a person processing your case or interviewing you choose to be particularly difficult, for example. In general, though, I don’t think they have the human capacity to nitpick like that. If you want to be 100% careful and risk-free about it, I advise to wait those extra few months that you’ve spent traveling abroad just to make sure you really have fulfilled the rule.

      2. That’s a very technical/tricky H1B question which I haven’t dealt with personally. I would double check with your US employer’s lawyer on that. But pretty sure that yes, they can deny your case because at the time your application hits their desk, you are still subject, hence not yet eligible to apply for the H1B visa.

      3. I think this depends on how kind the officer wants to be to you. Chances are he won’t even know or care. And regarding physical presence component, that’s what makes the two year rule so fantastically evil. If the officer picks up your passport, looks at your entry/exit stamps and starts counting time you spent abroad, he/she won’t care for your explanations that you were asked to travel on behalf of your employer.


      Tanya McTavish Mar 6, 2014
  • Amber
    Mar 11, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    A quick question, I filled out the DS-3035 form by myself last night and obtained a code bar and a case number. I haven’t mailed it out. I also have an immigration attorney to handle my H1B application. I was planning to do the waiver by myself at the beginning but later today I decided I’ll have my attorney do the waiver application as well. So I need to edit/add/change some info on the DS-3035 form. But seems like I can only write a reason statement with my case number and couldn’t really change other information. Can I start over with a new application and create a new code bar and case number? Or should i stick with the old one. I answered “no attorney representing me”, but now the situation changed and how to change it with my old case number. Thank you so much!!!

    Amber Mar 11, 2014
    • Mar 12, 2014

      Hi Amber, I assume that just because of the change to from self-filing to the lawyer filing, the form needs to be resubmitted and you will get a new bar code. If you want to be 100% certain, just run it by your lawyer since they are working on your case anyway. Tanya

      Tanya McTavish Mar 12, 2014
  • Mar 12, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    First of all, thank you so much for posting this entry! extremely helpful. I have few questions regarding the waiver if you don’t mind.

    So I came to the U.S. 8 years ago on a J1 exchange visa sponsored by the U.S. Dept of State. I stayed here for a year and returned to India after a year. I came back to the U.S. after a year on a F1 student visa. I have been in the U.S. since then and have made 2 trips back home. In total, I have fulfilled 14 months out of the 2 years. I am currently working on OPT. My employer is going to apply for an H1B petition this April with a consular processing note.

    I applied for a waiver last year but was denied due to government funding involved. No surprises there. I am wondering if I have any other options. You said that one can get an H1B visa but not an H1B visa stamp if they are under the 2 year rule. Does this mean that I can keep working as long as I don’t leave the U.S. Or does it mean that I will have to go back to finish the requirement first?

    Thank you so much in advance.


    Raj Mar 12, 2014
    • Mar 12, 2014

      Hi Raj, welcome to the Government Funding club :) Not very funny, I know. You should be able to obtain the H1B status since you are already in the US. However, you won’t be able to ever obtain the H1B visa unless you have served the remaining 10 months of the 2 year rule. Which essentially means that you’ll be stuck in the US. You also won’t be able to obtain the green card unless you have served the rule.

      This rule never ever goes away and even 5 years down the line, when your green card application is in processing either through your employer (or through marriage to a US citizen or resident), you WILL get a note from the immigration services saying that you will only be eligible for the green card AFTER you have served the remainder of your two year rule.

      The question you have to ask yourself is this: is returning to your home country after your OPT and living there for 10 months worth all that pain? Especially considering that you will have to serve that rule at some point in your life anyway? My recommendation would be to serve and then try to come back. But it is entirely up to you.


      Tanya McTavish Mar 12, 2014
  • Sunil
    Mar 13, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    Back again! My subsidiary company in US filed for L1 blacket petition and got it approved 2 days back. However I am on 2 years home residency rule and I am still running short of 75 days. I am going to complete it by may end. My question is,

    1. When should I start filing the application for L1A? Is it only after the completion of 2 years rule or shall I start just before that?
    2. What sort of forms do I need to complete since the subsidiary company have received the L1 blanket approval?

    Thanks again, I really appreciate your help.



    Sunil Mar 13, 2014
    • Mar 13, 2014

      Hi Sunil,

      1. I started filing for my green card 6 months before my 2 year rule was up. I knew it would take at least that long to review my case and it worked out well (processing took 8 months and by that time I had served the rule completely). Check processing times on L1A and I assume because you have just a few months left you should be good to go right now.

      2. Really don’t know the answer to that one, never dealt with L1’s personally or professionally.


      Tanya McTavish Mar 13, 2014
  • Sunil
    Mar 14, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    Thanks for the reply. But you have mentioned about green card procedure and I am in the initial phase of getting L1A visa. Is it not possible to get the visa in 15 days if we take premium service and pay extra fee? How can I get the visa quickly if the blanket petition is already approved? Will you please communicate me if you have more details?

    Thanks once again.



    Sunil Mar 14, 2014
    • Mar 14, 2014

      Hi Sunil, I am not familiar with the L visa processing so I don’t really have answers to such specific L-visa questions.

      Tanya McTavish Mar 14, 2014
  • […] finansowania (np. w porównaniu do trade-off dwóch lat za krótki kilkutygodniowy wyjazd – – czy wielki wysiłek trudnych studiów z perspektywą ich niepełnego niewykorzystania). […]

  • Sunil
    Mar 16, 2014

    Thanks Tanya for all your help. Appreciated!!…….Regards……Sunil…

    Sunil Mar 16, 2014
  • Robert
    Mar 18, 2014

    Hi Tanya, thank you very much for the information! It has been really helpful and you’re very kind to help us with this process.

    I have one quick question: I am applying for a J1 visa as a “Research Scholar” and will probably be subjected to the 2 year home residency requirement because I have funding from my country’s government. Anyway, I plan to continue my career in the USA one year after finishing my J1 visa but it would be as a J-1 “Alien Physician” because it’s medical training.

    Do you know if its going to be a problem in this case, even if the J1 its a non-inmigrant visa? (I am not planning to stay in the USA after that, or maybe not before 2 years pass)

    Thanks a lot!

    Robert Mar 18, 2014
    • Mar 18, 2014

      Hi Robert,

      It sounds like in both cases you may and probably will be subject to the two year rule. You should have no problem getting the Alien Physician J1 visa after your Research Scholar J1 visa but if you are subject to the 2 year rule twice, you will have to return to your home country for a total of 4 years. Just keep that in mind as you make your career plans.


      Tanya McTavish Mar 18, 2014
  • nonu
    Mar 18, 2014

    hi , iam in my 4th year of J1 programme, My wife is also on J1 visa. we both have collected our NOC from INDIA regarding 212e waiver. however, before filling DS3035 ,i want to know whether one of us should DS 3035 or both have to fill DS3035 separately.

    AND right now i am in TEXAS and after a month i am moving to Kentuc ky state. But i collected my NOC for 212 e and all clearance certificates from INDIA using TEXAS address and at Consulate general of INdia, Houston. texas. SO before begining the NORI waiver and DS3035 , case number generation. Can i begin the process of DS 3035 from Kentucky and mail them to Hosuton CGI or i am bound to send it to the new consulate covering kentucky state , which is at washington or New york.

    nonu Mar 18, 2014
    • Mar 18, 2014

      Hi Nonu,

      If your wife is not on a J2 dependent visa but on her own J1 visa independently from yours, then yes, you have to file for waivers (and obtain no objection statements) independently. If she came to the US as a J2 dependent, then she will automatically be included in your waiver application and you don’t have to pay the waiver fee twice. Just make sure you list her as a dependent on form DS-3035.

      I would double check with your consulate general in Texas and get guidance from them on what their procedure is in such cases. Regarding address, I would say that if you are moving to Kentucky for sure, list the Kentucky address from the start so that you don’t have to follow through the address change and extra paperwork hassle.


      Tanya McTavish Mar 18, 2014
  • D A
    Mar 18, 2014

    Hi Tanya!

    Thanks for all the helpful info you’ve provided for us here! I have a related question. I went to the states on a J-1 Fulbright scholarship for the years 2007 until 2009 fully understanding I am subject to the 2 year rule. I then returned home briefly to get an F-1 visa to complete graduate school and did that, also understanding the rule was simply postponed not waived. I left the states a few months ago after graduation and haven’t yet returned to my home country. I am looking into employment opportunities in neighboring countries for the time being because I think my skills would serve my region better that way and several other reasons. I do plan on eventually returning to my home country to serve it specifically, just not doing so right now. I do not intend on returning to the states to work etc anytime soon. Is it ok for me to pursue these international work opportunities and fulfill my 2 years later as long as i don’t try to return to the US? Worried I might be penalized in some way etc so thought I’d ask you if you knew anything about that. I contacted the related office in my country but they haven’t responded yet.

    Thanks so much for any help on this!

    D A Mar 18, 2014
    • Mar 18, 2014

      Hi Delia,

      Your case sounds very much like mine. Don’t worry about penalties. The only bad thing is that you can’t get your H1B visa and green card unless you have served your rule in your home country. Note that even if you take citizenship in the neighboring country you will have to serve the rule at the country of which you were a citizen when you got your J1/Fulbright visa. Plus having to serve the two year rule is already a big enough penalty, if you ask me :)

      So yes, go ahead and pursue your international opportunities and keep in mind that you will eventually have to serve the rule at your home country if you have serious plans to move to the US for work or for life. Also note that you are absolutely allowed to apply for tourist visas, F visas and J visas even if you haven’t served your two year rule. The only things you can’t apply for are work visas (H,L) and green cards.

      I even think that the two year rule kind of helps with your future, B, F and J visa applications because the two year rule will force you to leave the US eventually, thereby preventing you from becoming an immigrant – an excellent scenario for any non-immigrant visa application, if you ask me. I know that this argument worked well in my favor back in the day when I was applying for an F visa while being subject to the rule.


      Tanya McTavish Mar 18, 2014
  • D A
    Mar 19, 2014

    Hi Tanya!
    Ok sounds good, no plans to return to US to reside or work anyway :) and plan on eventually going home at some point. Thanks for all your help, that helps to hear! Just out of curiosity did you end up doing your 2 years or getting waiver? Either way glad it sounds like everything worked for you in the end :)

    D A Mar 19, 2014
    • Mar 19, 2014

      I ended up returning to Belarus to serve the rule and have no regrets about it. My American husband loved living there as well and got to know me and my culture so much better. I think it was a wonderful thing to do given our intercultural marriage. We have wonderful memories from the two years spent there and have no regrets whatsoever. In fact, we often think about returning – there are so many great things one can do in an emerging market like that. The worst part about being subject was the feeling of being trapped by the rule, being forced to go live somewhere against your will and being afraid to return home after 7+ years of not living there. It’s all in your head, at least in my case it was.

      Tanya McTavish Mar 19, 2014
  • Jumana
    Mar 19, 2014

    Dear Tanya,

    I was once a Fulbright scholar with a J-1 Visa. After finishing my Fulbright scholarship, my school sponsored me with an F1 to finish my degree (Ph.D). I am still on an F1, and it won’t expire until 2015.

    I now got a job offer for a postdoctoral position that I plan to start in August. Of course, I understand now that there are restrictions to applying for H1B.

    What are my options now?

    I am going to be researching in biology, so it could be related to the Medical excuse waiver. Would it be more likely to be waived (do you think) given I will be paid or funded by the NIH?

    I don’t necessarily mind fulfilling the 2 yr requirement after.
    Is it possible to continue with the F1 as an academic trainee? ( I am under the impression the J1 holders get up to 36mo Academic training).

    How does the OPT play into this?

    Thanks a lot for all the useful information.


    Jumana Mar 19, 2014
    • Mar 19, 2014

      Hi Jumana,

      Whenever you are done with your PhD program, your F1 status will expire. In your case I would probably file for OPT for 12 months and if you are ok with being “stuck” in the US on an H1B status and no visa (hence no way to travel abroad and come back) you can file for the H1B. The hope, of course, is that you obtain the waiver through NIH as an interested government agency and get the actual H1B visa. I think the NIH waiver is worth a shot.

      Also, if the NIH waiver doesn’t work, you could probably make a case for an O type visa which is granted to “Individuals with Extraordinary Ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics”. You would need a lawyer to make a case for you but if you are doing conferences, publishing and all that scholarly stuff, you may have a shot at the O visa, which allows you to stay in the US for extended periods of time without waiving the 2 year rule.

      If you are considering the O visa and want to discuss your options going that route, I will be happy to recommend an attorney for you (I am not an attorney, and for an O case you really need one). Know a few good ones who specialize just on outstanding achievement visas. Either way, good luck.


      Tanya McTavish Mar 19, 2014
  • D A
    Mar 20, 2014

    Hi Tanya,
    Yes I can imagine those feelings would indeed have been the worse part. I’m glad you and your husband ended up making the most of your time in Belarus (beautiful country!) and you seem to have a positive attitude which I’m sure helped a great deal too :)
    Thanks for sharing your experiences and helping us all as well!

    D A Mar 20, 2014
  • Shekhar
    Mar 21, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    Very Nice blog.
    I am in a very confused situation. My DS2019 doesn’t say anything about 2 years home requirements. All the checkboxes are unmarked in DS2019. However, on my J1 visa it says “212(E) applies”. So I am confused what’s going on.

    I reality, I am not getting any govt funding from either USA or India(my home country). My skill is Artificial Intelligence which is not in the Exchange Visitor Skills list of India. And ofcourse PL 94-484 is also not valid for me.

    Have you came across such kind of case before. I am applying for Advisory Opinion but I am just worried.

    Shekhar Mar 21, 2014
    • Mar 21, 2014

      Hi Shekhar,

      Thank you and do not worry. Mixups like these happen sometimes, and that’s what advisory opinions are for. From what you are describing, you should not be, and are probably not, subject to the two year rule.


      Tanya McTavish Mar 21, 2014
  • Adrian
    Mar 23, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    Very informative blog you have. In the case where one is not subject to the 2 year rule, (came as an au pair), would I be able to apply for a change of status (F-1) without having to go through the programme director who is sponsoring my programme? What other alternatives are available to someone in my situation?


    Adrian Mar 23, 2014
    • Mar 24, 2014

      Hi Adrian,

      You do not have to be in touch with your J1 program officer. All the paperwork will be done through the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over where you live in the U.S. And, of course, you need to have all the F1-related papers proving that you have been accepted and have financial means to pursue a full time program of study at a US college or university.

      If F1 is not something you want to do or have money for, and, if you find yourself eligible for J1 internship/training, it could be an option. Note, however, that many J1 sponsors do not allow change of status and will probably ask you to fly to Canada or your home country to get the J1 training/internship visa at the US consulate.


      Tanya McTavish Mar 24, 2014
    • Adrian
      Mar 26, 2014

      Thanks a lot Tanya. That is very helpful.

      Adrian Mar 26, 2014
  • Vivi
    Mar 24, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    You have such wonderful advice here. My question goes towards the time. I too finished my graduate program (two years of schoolwork and one year of academic training where I was teaching for the university) and came back to my home country in Dec 2013.

    First, do the trips that I took during my graduate program, such as being home for the holidays and summer, count towards the two-years?

    Second, I got married in the US before my J-1 ended and my husband came to my home country with me. I empathize greatly with your point of feeling trapped and basically being forced to live somewhere when one thinks about it, but in reality it is not bad at all. What if I apply 6 or 8 months before my time is up but by some reason, it gets processed faster and I am not done with my time? will they deny my green card request or move me back to the back of the line?

    Is it worth it at all to just wait for the 2 years to be up and then enter with a tourist visa and adjust your status? just curious!

    Thank you for your time!!

    Vivi Mar 24, 2014
    • Mar 24, 2014

      Hi Vivi,

      1. Yes, the trips count but you may be asked for proof so I recommend saving tickets/”evidence” that you indeed took such trips.
      2. Sounds like my story! If you are talking about green card processing times, it’s very unlikely it will get processed faster than in 6 months so applying 6 months prior to your rule being up is what most attorneys recommend. Plus, once you have a month or so left of serving your two year rule, then there is no way they will just stop your green card processing because of that.

      If you are already married to a US citizen, I suspect you may have issues getting non-immigrant visas so I strongly suggest that you file for green card from your home country and enter the US on an immigrant visa.


      Tanya McTavish Mar 24, 2014
  • Vivi
    Mar 24, 2014

    Thanks for your answer Tanya,

    I was confused on whether the time counted or not because I did not know if they would only count from where my program ended or J-1 visa expired. It is good to know that it does count.

    I already have the non-immigrant visa, I get scared sometimes, just fear that my application would be held up longer in my home country and that’s why I wondered if it would just be faster to adjust status while in the US. But I guess if I start a year before or something, it should’t be that bad.

    Vivi Mar 24, 2014
  • LOVA
    Mar 25, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    It’s a very informative blog. Thank you so much for sharing! Wish I could’ve seen it earlier! So I am graduating this year and the company will apply for my H1B. Unfortunately, I am subject to the 2 year rule (says on the doc and visa stamp). I recently have applied for the advisory opinion but I am not sure if I will get a favorable feedback. Now I want to start planning my waiver application and use my OPT for my first year of work. Can you recommend a good lawyer (like the one you have mentioned) that specialize in this waiver process? I want to apply for H1B next year. :(

    Thank you so much!!

    LOVA Mar 25, 2014
    • Mar 25, 2014


      What’s the reason you got the 2 year rule? Is it because of the skills list or because of government funding? If it’s skills list, I am certain you can handle the waiver process yourself. Many many people do because:

      a) it’s pretty straight-forward
      b) it involves getting in touch with some sort of agency in your government (depends on your home country) – I honestly think you are more capable negotiating with your home government
      c) there is a very high chance you will actually obtain the waiver

      If it’s a complicated case or if you seem confused, let me know and I will get you in touch with an attorney.


      Tanya McTavish Mar 25, 2014
  • LOVA
    Mar 25, 2014

    Thank you for your fast response, Tanya!

    I don’t know why I got the rule. I was an exchange student in a US public high school and was placed in a host family. Nothing on the skill list (of my country) really matches my situation. Do you think that will be a complicated case to apply for a waiver? And again thank you for your help!! I am currently waiting for my advisory opinion. And hope I will get a favorable outcome. But if not, I will need to contact an attorney. And that would be great if you could get me couple of referrals. :)

    Thank you so much!

    LOVA Mar 25, 2014
    • Mar 25, 2014

      So your DS-2019/IAP-66 doesn’t say anything about you being subject and based on what you are subject? If so, then yes, your best bet is to wait for advisory opinion results. Let me come up with the list of attorneys from my contacts, and I will post it for all to refer to.

      Tanya McTavish Mar 25, 2014
    • Mar 26, 2014

      Hi Lova,

      It is best to wait for advisory opinion results and then, in case you need immigration attorney’s help, I recommend Batya over at Schwartz Ehrens Immigration Law:
      T: (347) 961-8472


      Tanya McTavish Mar 26, 2014
  • dilip
    Mar 26, 2014

    thankyou for u blog and the usefull sugestions
    i am dilip from india
    i am in the usa on a j1 visa.
    i am working here as a cook in hotel
    As if now i am doing my training program with the hotel in n.j
    my j1 visa states that p-4-12880. 212(e)does not apply
    my ds2019 form shows that
    not subject to the two year residence requirement

    i am confused now and i donot know

    whether i am subjected to the 2 year rule.

    can i stay here after my visa expires if a find a job here in the usa
    can if am subjected to the 2year rule what should i do to cancel it.

    dilip Mar 26, 2014
    • Mar 26, 2014

      Hi Dilip,

      If your visa stamp states that you are not subject and the DS-2019 says that you are not subject, then you are 99.9% not subject to the two year rule, which means that you can start any sort of work visa petition during your current J1 program (without having to return home for 2 years to serve the rule).

      Note, however, that if you want to repeat your J1 training program in hospitality, you may have to wait 2 years before applying – it’s different from the 2 year rule but the wait time is the same in duration (2 years).

      An important distinction between the two rules is that the two year home residency requirement makes you return HOME for two years. The J1 repeat rule makes you live outside the US for 2 years – it can be home but it can also be anywhere abroad/outside the US: Canada, Australia etc. And, of course, the J1 repeat rule still allows you to apply for green cards and work visas. The two year home residency requirement does NOT allow you to apply for these unless you waive the rule.

      And, keep in mind, if you apply for repeat J1 training, then you have to show that your new training program will be different from the one you had previously: it will teach you new skills, it is in a different field of training, it’s more complex in nature than the initial training program, etc. Otherwise the J1 visa sponsor may reject your repeat J1 training application. Good luck!


      Tanya McTavish Mar 26, 2014
    • Avinashh
      May 13, 2014

      Hello Dilip, this is Aviinashh from Hyderabad and I have done Bachelor’s in Hotel Management and later on I did PG in International Tourism and Hospitality Management from a university in the UK. I want to apply for a J1 visa in the hospitality sector and since you are in the same field as me, I thought I could get some information from you, Can I have your e-mail address or can you please mail me so that i can ask you some questions about your training and placements upon completion of your training. The information that you provide will be very beneficial to me. My e-mail address is

      Thanks in advance.

      Avinashh May 13, 2014
  • Anna
    Mar 27, 2014

    Hi Tanya!

    Amazing page… I wonder if you can help me. I think that I need a lawyer…
    I just received an advisory opinion stating that I am subject to the 2-year rule, based on: ‘accepted funding from the home government and/or the United States Government and/or direct or indirect funding through an International organization’, and I really don’t know why.

    My situation is that I’ve been 5 years here (October 2009 to September 2014) with a J-1 and only in the last renovation, the 2-year rule appeared in the passport visa (not in the DS-2019). That’s why I asked for an advisory opinion, because I was confused. The first 3 years I was indirectly paid by National Science Foundation funds, but through the University of Pennsylvania, so I didn’t even know that. After that, I had private funds. So I did have indirectly Government funds but it never appeared in the DS form or anywhere. Not that a US agency hired me.

    Before that, I spent 3 months in Chicago during 2006 and Spain paid for that so I was subject to the rule, but I returned home more than 2 years then. It was not a problem. I think that I paid for that already…

    Spain is going to provide a No objection letter with no trouble, but now I read that still if I was paid by US government I can get screwed… even if Spain doesn’t want me back.

    Do you know how the Dept of State determines if one is subject to the 2-year rule? In my DS-2019 there is no government information, so I wonder if they know. What information do they have?
    What do I do?

    Thanks so much!!!

    Anna Mar 27, 2014
    • Mar 27, 2014

      Hi Ana,

      Certainly a complicated case, mainly because it’s about government funding. Note that the Department of State doesn’t really care if you are needed/wanted by your home country (i. e. country of which you were a citizen at the time when you got the J1 visa with the 2 year rule restriction). They also don’t care if you started a family here, had children etc. – they want you to serve the two year rule regardless (there ways around this but the principle is the same: “serve the rule, we don’t really care for your circumstances”).

      Regarding the previous two year rule, if you stayed in your home country for 2 years and if you have proof of that, then you have taken care of that rule.

      I also heard from attorneys that success of your waiver depends on the amount of funding you received from the government agency: the more funding, the higher the chances. In my case, the amount of funding was very small ($7000) and the attorney frankly told me that I am better off to spend my money on a plane ticket home and enjoy life at home for the next 2 years.

      If you are feeling lost and confused, and especially if you want to do the full investigation on sources of funding and possible ways of obtaining a waiver, I would get in touch with Batya (her contacts are listed in my earlier comments). She is a dear friend and also a trained immigration attorney (unlike me). If she cannot handle the case herself for some reason, she will be happy to recommend others who do. And I always recommend going with referrals when it comes to attorneys.


      Tanya McTavish Mar 27, 2014
  • zack
    Mar 29, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    thanks for the info and i have some questions if you don’t mind.

    I came on a J1 supported by fulbright’s FLTA in 2008 (just for 9 months). I returned three months after that on an F1 visa and has been in the states till now (working on my phd).
    I got married 7 months ago and i’m trying to get a waiver for the following reasons:
    1) my wife works with an educational non-profit and has a contract with them so she can’t leave.
    2) she does not speak the language of my country and will not be able to communicate/work there.
    3) I WILL not get a job with my degree in my home country due to the current bad economy.
    4) my wife is pregnant and that complicates things even more (we’re happy and worried at the same time)
    5) my country issued me a no-objection letter.

    i forgot to mention that i am in the process of getting a waiver. i have a case number and filed all the documents but the waiver division asked for more info/documents.

    is there anything you can suggest/recommend?

    this topic is very complicated and i think each case is different based on its facts. what do you think?

    zack Mar 29, 2014
    • Mar 29, 2014

      Hi Zack,

      Sounds like you are working on the exceptional hardship waiver, which implies that your wife is a US citizen. They are considered pretty tough cases and if I were in your situation, with the child and all other things at stake, I would definitely hire an attorney.


      Tanya McTavish Mar 29, 2014
  • Anna
    Mar 30, 2014

    Thanks!!! I will consult lawyers! Thanks for the recommendation… thanks

    Anna Mar 30, 2014
  • Sara
    Mar 30, 2014

    Hi Tanya ,

    Thank you for the valuable information . I have few questions if you may help me.

    I am on J1 visa that is unfortunately subject to the 2 years country residency condition.I am planning to go back to my home country and apply for F1 visa to be able to come back again to pursue my academic degree.I could not manage to find a legal way to change the status from J1 to F1 .

    Q1- Should i apply for the waiver , go back to my home country and apply for F1 visa .
    or , should i apply for the waiver , apply for change of status case and stay in US.?

    Q2-If the Waiver status is still pending , and my visa expired , will that be considered a violation of the Visa?

    Q3- I have read the instructions to fill in the waiver application ,
    “Item 12, when program approval was on Form IAP-66: For Item 12, SEVIS Number, enter the following: N0000000000 (must have 10 zeros). For Item 12, Subject Field Code, enter the following from the IAP-66 form: 00. followed by the 4-digit subject field code number from Form IAP-66 (example 00.2546).”

    I have a DS2019 , should i put the number that is on the form or should i put “N0000000000 ” i did not get it.


    Sara Mar 30, 2014
    • Mar 31, 2014

      Hi Sara,

      First off, if your case is not related to government funding, then it is always good to apply for the waiver. Second, whether you are subject to the two year rule or not, you are still eligible to apply for an F1 visa. The only things you are restricted from during the two year rule restriction is work visas and green cards. Also the two year rule does not prohibit you from changing your status from J1 to F1 as far as I know.

      I don’t think you can stay in the country because your waiver status is pending. You need to have switched to another visa/status if you want to stay in the country legally.

      You should put the exact number on your DS form, not the N000000….. number.


      Tanya McTavish Mar 31, 2014
  • apariyar
    Mar 31, 2014

    Hi Tanya,
    I saw this blog for the first time and I really like the effort you have put to answer the queries that most people post in this blog. I am subject to two year home residency rule like most others here and I was funded by US Department of State. I have finished only about 60 days. I get frustrated when I think the implication the rule has over me especially when I realize that I am not allowed to work or receive a Green Card. And before settling in US, and going back to my country and coming back after two years won’t make sense sometimes. Therefore, I am thinking about applying for J1 waiver despite the fact that there is less chance of it being waived.

    Q. My question is : what are the negative impacts if the waiver gets rejected if any?

    Thank you

    apariyar Mar 31, 2014
    • Apr 1, 2014

      There is really no negative impact other than wasted time, money and energy. As I mentioned in earlier comments, the higher the amount of funding you received from the Department of State, the higher your chances of getting the waiver. You have to build some sort of game plan before applying for the waiver. Either have interested government agency petition for you or make an exceptional hardship case if you are married. Something. Merely submitting a waiver application and hoping for the best is really not a good idea. Tanya

      Tanya McTavish Apr 1, 2014
  • Mar 31, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    I was an intern for a US company from Jan2013 until Dec2013. Internship was not funded by any government body. I have never been a Fullbright Alumni. The two year rule in my case applies because my country is in the Skills List.
    This year the company that I did the internship with, is filing for my H1B, well the immigration law firm that they have hired is filing the H1B for me. They(my company’s HR) told me that we ( me and the company) have time until October 1st to sort out the two year residency waiver. How do you feel about this. What are my chances of my H1B not going through because of the two year residency rule that applies to me? …

    David Mar 31, 2014
    • Apr 1, 2014

      Hi David, have the attorney start working on the Skills List waiver right now. The earlier they start the better. If I were you, I would even start filing for a waiver myself, without the attorney, because skills list waivers involve your home country government and I think you are more than capable of sorting things out with your government than a US-based attorney. That’s just my opinion. Either way, start working on the waiver right this moment. Processing time really depends on how quickly you obtain No-Objection documents from your government. To keep things positive, skills list waivers are much easier to deal with than government funding ones. Good luck! Tanya

      Tanya McTavish Apr 1, 2014
  • Miranda
    Mar 31, 2014

    Hi Tanya! Thank you a lot for the useful information and I have question for you if you dont mind.

    I am subject to two years as being a former exchange student on J-1 visa. I have been financed on getting bachelors degree ( 4 years) from my government.
    Since I was always aware of the fact that “once subject always subject*- I dont mind going back home, stay there and work for the well being of my country for 2 years, yay!
    1) Just to make sure again once more, when do I have to start counting days towards the two years? Since the day when I was issued J-1 visa or since where my programs ends? Just like Viva said, I have been going home constantly for holidays and summer ( if I would count those days, I could get pretty impressive number out of 725 days)

    2) As you mentioned in your comment above: the more funding, the higher the chances to waive. In my case, the amount of funding is about 250K. What would you advise on that? Shall I try to waive my case?


    Miranda Mar 31, 2014
    • Apr 1, 2014

      Hi Miranda,

      1. You can start counting days towards the two years immediately after you start your J1 program for which you got the 2 year requirement. Say you started your J1 and in 6 months returned home for 3 weeks for Christmas holidays. These 3 weeks count. Make sure you have record of your travel – e-tickets, ticket stubs etc.

      2. 250 K is decent but the amount alone doesn’t mean much. You would still need some sort of game plan like having some US government agency petition on your behalf because your field of study is super valuable to them and they would love to keep you working for them. If you get such endorsement then the amount of funding would be a plus. Basically you need to be so outstanding in your research or whatever you do that the government agency would basically ask the Department of State to waive your two year rule.


      Tanya McTavish Apr 1, 2014
  • Kadhim
    Apr 2, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    I have been reading through your answers and they are very useful indeed. I have got a question.

    I have been in the US in 2005 for 4 month Fulbright prorgamme on J1 visa. I never went back home, Instead I live in the UK and I got my citizenship recently. I plan to go to US for another US funded J1 programme.
    Do J1 2 year rule add up ? i.e. Will I need to spend 4 years before applying for h1 or immigrant visa in US.
    Second questions, after my second J1 visa programme ends, can I apply for another J1 programme from within the UK ( as I am a physician and would like to do my residency in US)

    Sorry to bombard you with these questions, your reply is highly appreciated.

    Kadhim Apr 2, 2014
    • Apr 2, 2014

      Hi Kadhim,

      1. Yes, two year rules do add up so you would have to serve 4 years in total if you commit to another US funded J1.
      2. Yes, you can apply for as many J1’s as you wish. 2 year rule doesn’t prohibit you from applying from any US visas except for work visas and green cards.


      Tanya McTavish Apr 2, 2014
  • Sabeer Bhatia
    Apr 3, 2014

    Dear Tanya,

    Thanks for all the great information regarding J1 visa. I really appreciate all the time that you have taken to reply to every query here.

    I am an Indian national and i have been living in Australia for the past 4 years doing a PhD. But now i going to the US on a J1 Short term scholar visa. My question is whether the 2 year foreign residency rule still applies to me as i have been living in Australia for the last four years? It has been bothering me for quite a while now.


    Sabeer Bhatia Apr 3, 2014
    • Apr 3, 2014

      Hi Sabeer,

      I am assuming the J1 short-term scholar visa is the first J1 visa you got. If so, you can check whether you are subject to the two year rule by looking at your J1 visa stamp in your passport. It will either say “two year home residency requirement applies” or “two year home residency requirement does not apply”. Also look at your DS-2019 to see if you are subject to the two year rule and if so, based on what. If both visa and DS-2019 say that you are not subject, then you are not subject. If they say that you are subject, find out on your DS-2019 based on what you became subject and act accordingly (apply for a waiver, return to India to serve the rule, etc.).


      Tanya McTavish Apr 3, 2014
  • Leo
    Apr 3, 2014


    Your post was perfect….

    I have been reading about this for over a year and I will be getting into the process soon, I am married to an American citizen for 7 months already and I am currently on my second intern program in USA. I am from Venezuela and one of the requirements of my embassy is a letter from my sponsor organization. I am worried because when I signed the contract with them it said I would not try to change my visa status so I’m afraid they will terminate my internship program as soon as I summit the papers. What do you know about this?


    Leo Apr 3, 2014
    • Apr 3, 2014

      Hi Leo,

      Are you subject to the two year rule? Doesn’t sound like it. If the issue is solely about your sponsor approving the change of status, it is entirely up to the sponsor. When I worked for the sponsor agency I reviewed each change of status case individually.

      Generally you are right, sponsors warn applicants that the change of status is not allowed but terminating your program just because of that doesn’t make any sense either. If you are on good terms with the program manager at the sponsor agency, let them know about your plans ahead of time. Also don’t make them do lots of work for you – just have all letters drafted and ready to be signed. One of the reasons sponsors don’t want to deal with the change of status cases is because it’s extra paperwork for them for no reason. Nobody wants to work extra, unless you are me :)

      Just like with US visas at the embassies, your fate is decided by one person (at the sponsor agency) who is in charge of your training program. It is really up to that person. I tried to be accommodating and nice to trainees and never made issues out of status changes.


      Tanya McTavish Apr 3, 2014
  • Dee
    Apr 3, 2014

    Dear Tanya,

    I am from Romania and I was with Work & Travel program in the US, with J1 Visa and I was not subject.

    My question is: a 3-12 months internship in the USA will make me a subject to section 212 (E) no matter what or only if the J1 exchange program will be funded in whole or in part by a U.S. Government agency, my home country’s government, or an international organization that received funding from the U.S. Government or my home country’s government?

    I am looking forward to your reply.

    All the best,

    Dee Apr 3, 2014
    • Apr 3, 2014

      Hi Dee,

      You may become subject to the 2 year rule even for a 1-month long J1 internship. In your case, the only reason you may be subject to the two year rule is:

      1. if you receive funding from a U.S. Government agency, your home country’s government, or an international organization that received funding from the U.S. Government or your home country’s government


      2. if your field of training is found on your home country’s Exchange Visitor Skills List. Just follow the link, enter your home country and see if your field of training is on there.


      Tanya McTavish Apr 3, 2014
    • Dee
      Apr 5, 2014

      Thank you so much Tanya. You were very helpful!! Have an amazing weekend!

      Dee Apr 5, 2014
    • Dee
      Apr 5, 2014

      It seems that I will be subject to the two year rule because of my field of study :(. So in this case, if this year I will go for an internship, when I will come back home, will I be able to apply for a J1 Visa Work&Travel program for example? Because I’m thinking to continue my studies which will make me eligible for a J1 Visa (Work&Travel or Internship).

      Thank you again,

      Dee Apr 5, 2014
    • Apr 5, 2014

      Yep, you can certainly apply for a J1 work and travel even if you are still subject.

      Tanya McTavish Apr 5, 2014
    • Dee
      Apr 5, 2014

      How nice of you to make time to help people like me and others. I appreciate it.

      Dee Apr 5, 2014
  • jh
    Apr 5, 2014

    Hi Tanya,
    Your post has been very helpful. I have a query on how the section 212(e) rule applies in case of exchange skills list update.

    I am from India and was in US on J1 exchange visa in 2006 for 3 months. Since 2007 I have lived in UK and now am in the process of obtaining US work visa. My J1 visa unfortunately says “two year rule does apply”. I checked my DS-2019 and in the section where the criteria for 2 year rule is, it has only tick on (b) The exchange visitor skills list, remaining a) and c) are blank. My subject field code was 52.0201 which is not there any more in the 2009 updated exchange skills list for India. The 1997 list is very hard to read but it looks like 52.0201 might be covered under 9A.

    So if the new list doesn’t have my skill should I still be subject? The website says that the skill list at the time of obtaining J1 applies, while some other sites say that the if the skill is removed than 212(e) requirement is deemed to be dropped.
    Is there a easy way to get waiver in this situation?

    jh Apr 5, 2014
    • Apr 5, 2014

      I think in your case it’s important to find out based on what exactly you became subject. So I suggest getting the advisory opinion, and if they made you subject based on the old skills list which is no longer in effect, I don’t think it will be that hard to get a no objection letter from your government stating this and obtain the waiver. Tanya

      Tanya McTavish Apr 5, 2014
  • Leo
    Apr 8, 2014

    Thanks Tanya,

    You answered my question, now you asked “Are you subject to the two year rule? Doesn’t sound like it”

    Yes I am subject, my visa and SD My first training program was in accounting and my second one in human resourcres

    Leo Apr 8, 2014
    • Leo
      Apr 8, 2014

      I think they are both on the skill list. Do you have more information about the waiver process, any tips, advice you can forward to me? my email is Just to make sure. is there no chance they will terminate my program upon my request of a change of status. right? I read on the Venezuelan embassy website I need an Authorization from them , indicating that no financial commitments remain pending and that there are no impediments for a change of visa status or objection in obtaining a permanent residency in the United States. My relationship with my sponsors and the sponsor organization it’s excellent I am already in the middle of my second training program with them. Thanks for your time and effort. :) I appreciate it.

      Leo Apr 8, 2014
    • Apr 8, 2014

      Then it’s a skills list case. There are some waiver instructions on the DOS website. I think skills list cases are doable on your own. I also left attorney contacts in my earlier comments. I’m not really an attorney and never applied to the skills list waiver myself. Good luck. Tanya

      Tanya McTavish Apr 8, 2014
  • Raul
    Apr 17, 2014

    Hello Tanya,

    Just wanted to thank you for your detailed, careful and selfless effort to provide so much guidance in such a complicated (and troubling!) matter. I am another two-year-rule victim. If I read correctly, you are saying that the two years start counting from the moment you begin your exchange program, correct?

    This has huge implications in my case – how come there isn’t any clear information on this matter anywhere? Could you point to a source where I can verify this is how the rule is interpreted? (I believe you!!! It’s only that I would like to document it in the event that I need to make the case with a prospective employer).

    If you wish, respond here or privately at Cheers to you!

    Raul Apr 17, 2014
    • Apr 17, 2014

      Hello Raul,

      Thanks for bringing up this question, as after some research it seems that you are right, you begin serving the two year rule AFTER the completion of your J1 program AND departure from the United States:

      Exchange visitors must reside and be physically present in their country of nationality or last legal permanent residence for an aggregate of at least two years following completion of the exchange program and departure from the United States.

      Which also means that if you remained in the States after that J1 program – for example, you switched to an F1 visa – and kept traveling home, the trips that you took home during that F1 status would could toward serving the two year rule. I am sorry for this confusion. Just shows once again that I’m not a trained attorney, just a mere 212(e) survivor :)

      Tanya McTavish Apr 17, 2014
  • cuoregrammatico
    Apr 18, 2014

    Hi Tanya,
    Your blog is very helpful!
    I am applying for a J1 visa as a “Fulbright Scholar in Residence” and will surely be subjected to the 2 year home residency requirement. Anyway, I would like to continue to stay in the USA attending a graduate program (I have already been accepted by some good universities) taking a F-1 visa. Will summer breaks (3 months each one) and periods of study in my home country (8/10 months) – during the graduate program – be usefull in order tu fullfill my 2-years requirement and make me elegible for an immigrant visa or another j-1 after my Phd?


    cuoregrammatico Apr 18, 2014
    • Apr 18, 2014

      Hi cuoregrammatico,

      Yes, once you are done with your J1 and switch over to F1, all the trips you take home while being on F1 status will count toward serving the two year rule. Even if you travel home for one day it counts. Just document that you took those trips home (ticket confirmations, make copies of passport stamps showing entry into the country, etc). Note that even if you are subject to the two year rule, you are eligible to apply for another J1 visa. For example, if you finish F1 and another J1 opportunity comes your way and you haven’t yet served your two year rule entirely, you are still allowed to apply for J1 visas. It’s the immigrant and work visas that you cannot get without serving the two year rule or obtaining a waiver. Good luck to you!


      Tanya McTavish Apr 18, 2014
  • cuoregrammatico
    Apr 19, 2014

    Thank you Tanya!
    Just another question for you…. If I take another J-1 visa, after the expiration of my first J-1 (not taking the F-1) or I have an extension of my first J-1, will summer breaks (3 months each one) and periods of study in my home country (8/10 months) be usefull in order to fullfill my 2-years requirement?

    Thanks so much!!!

    cuoregrammatico Apr 19, 2014
  • cuoregrammatico
    Apr 19, 2014

    * I am speaking, of course, of an extension or a new J-1 without government funding…

    cuoregrammatico Apr 19, 2014
  • cuoregrammatico
    Apr 19, 2014

    * and for how many years is possible a J-1 extension?


    cuoregrammatico Apr 19, 2014
    • Apr 19, 2014

      Extensions are program-specific. For example for J1 trainees, the program cannot be longer than 18 months. It is different depending on your J1 program. As your program officer to be sure.

      Tanya McTavish Apr 19, 2014
  • cuoregrammatico
    Apr 19, 2014

    * and for how many years is possible to take a new J-1
    sorry :-)



    cuoregrammatico Apr 19, 2014
    • Apr 19, 2014

      It depends on the J1 program. Also something to discuss with the program officer of that specific J1 program or find out exactly what type of J1 visa you will be getting and do the research online.

      Tanya McTavish Apr 19, 2014
  • kled
    Apr 19, 2014

    Dear Tanya,

    My name is Kledia and I have been part of the Fulbright program in USA. I returned back home to complete the 2 years back home residency and has been 10 months now. Went back in states for 20 days only on a tourist visa. When I came back home, they didn’t stamp my passport so I don’t have an entry to my country, i think it should be on their system that i have entered but I’m scared now.

    Thank you

    kled Apr 19, 2014
  • trungnguyen
    Apr 20, 2014

    hi Tanya,
    I can’t stop reading what you wrote here. You wrote “The worst part about being subject was the feeling of being trapped by the rule, being forced to go live somewhere against your will and being afraid to return home after 7+ years of not living there.” It is exactly what I am struggling about.
    I am J2 dependent with 212 studying in a Ph.D program (my wife is J1 funding from my government and has almost graduated). Now I plan to switch to J1 or F1. But I heard that I may get “2 years twice” if apply for J1. Is it correct?
    For my wife’s J1, she cannot apply any work visas after 3 years of academic training. Is that right? So, if I apply for J1 then she can apply for J2. But, dose she also get “2 years twice”?
    Do you know any cases that they can get a waiver by hardship situation?
    Thank you very much for your help

    trungnguyen Apr 20, 2014
    • Apr 22, 2014

      Hi Trung, yes, you may absolutely be subject to the two year rule twice. I was :) Your wife needs to either get a waiver or go home for two years before she can apply for work visas or a green card. And yes, she can also get the two year rule twice. Hardship waivers are pretty difficult to get, and I recommend discussing your options with an attorney.


      Tanya McTavish Apr 22, 2014
  • Cedric
    Apr 21, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    First of all, I am glad I could find your blog. Here is my situation, I am currently applying to a Post Doc position in the US, and I received my DS-2019 today . The mention on my DS 2019 is research scholar in Bioengineering. I got sweaty when I saw the mention “Two year home country rule”. I am supposed to receive “current Program sponsor fund ” from the US university and I m also receiving money from a Grant that I have in my current workplace in KOREA (which is not my home country). There is no section checked in the box Preliminary endorsement of consular etc .. (Not subject or subject) on my DS2019: I guess they would decide if i m subject or not when I go to apply to the US embassy. The problem is I have no plan to go back home after completion of my stay in the US. My fiancee is a US citizen and we re planning on staying in the US. My question is How can I know if I ll be subject or not to that rule before applying and also can the International office of the US university know in advance.

    Thanks in advance for your advice

    Best regards

    Cedric Apr 21, 2014
    • Apr 22, 2014

      Hi Cedric, yes, the embassy official will mark the appropriate two year rule section based on your case. If the US university is state-run or receives government funding, you will most likely be subject. Also check your home country’s skills list to see if Bioengineering is listed on there. If it is, you can be subject based on that.

      Also, you can and probably should as your US university in detail about funding sources and whether applicants like you were subject to the two year rule in the past. You have a full right to know all this in advance. Don’t let the two year rule mess up your life.

      And finally, if your fiancee is a US citizen and you are thinking of moving to the US, getting married is a much easier route. It’s kind of awkward to put pressure on your relationship like that but I Was faced with the same kind of pressure when my OPT ran out, my change of status fell through due to my employer, I had to go home and all I could think of is that the love of my life would stay behind in the US and we would be separated for two years (or maybe forever) because of the two year rule.

      Words cannot even describe how painful it was for us to think things through and get married in a rush. My husband, a US citizen, ended up going with me to my home country for 2.5 years. We are still married and happy together. But do I wish anyone to go through all this pain for the sake of some stupid visa rule? No, I do not. Plus it’s always kind of strange to have to explain how my husband proposed to me (he did not) and how our wedding was (in a court house in Kansas, without rings, nobody but his parents). The two year rule is certainly a test for any relationship, but I suggest you skip this test if you can.

      Tanya McTavish Apr 22, 2014
  • Doris
    Apr 22, 2014

    Hello Tany, I really found your post very interesting. I did a J1 internship from December 2010 to December 2011 for one year. Now I am doing a second J1 internship since January 2014. For both I had the 2 year rule. But since I spent 2 years in my home country after my first program, am I still subject to it this second time? My boyfriend and I want to get married and I would like to know if I have to apply for a waiver. If so, can my sponsor cancel my visa if I get married? I know I would need a letter from them so I could present it to the Peruvian Embassy and get my no objection letter. do you believe they would do this ?

    Doris Apr 22, 2014
    • Apr 22, 2014

      Hi Doris, yes, if you are subject to the two year rule twice, then you have to prove that you lived in your home country for 4 years. So yes, you have 2 more years to go or, alternatively, you can apply for a waiver. Your sponsor cannot cancel your visa if you get married as long as you are still doing your J1 program. If you are on good terms with your visa sponsor contact, you should have no problem getting the no-objection letter. But, in your case, they really don’t need to know that you got married – all you do is tell them that you are thinking of applying for a waiver and need a letter from them.


      Tanya McTavish Apr 22, 2014
  • Doris
    Apr 22, 2014

    If they ask me why I am going to apply for a waiver should I tell them I am getting married? Also should I send them a sample letter for the to just sign or should I just request it?

    Doris Apr 22, 2014
    • Apr 28, 2014

      Hi Doris, this depends on how close you are to your visa sponsor. This is a grey area territory with no right or wrong answers. Just do your diplomatic best :)

      Tanya McTavish Apr 28, 2014
  • Lisa
    Apr 23, 2014

    Dear Tanya,

    I really enjoyed your entry about that awful rule.

    Unfortunately, I’m a member of the “subject” club. However, I have taken a couple of longer trips to my home country since that rule started to “count” while I stayed in the US on an F1.

    My question is: do you really have to show plane tickets to whomever is in charge of your H1B visa? I still remember all the exact dates that I was in my home country, and I keep stamps of every entry to the US in my passport.

    Thank you,


    Lisa Apr 23, 2014
    • Apr 28, 2014

      Hi Lisa, anything that you can show as proof (other than your words) will be good enough.

      Tanya McTavish Apr 28, 2014
  • Sunil
    Apr 23, 2014

    Tanya, Two 2 years means exactly how many days they consider? Is it 732 or 730?

    Sunil Apr 23, 2014
    • Apr 28, 2014

      That doesn’t really make a difference, Sunil. When it’s a matter of two days, they can just put visa start date for 2 days later. Don’t worry about 2 days, worry about serving the remaining 730-728.

      Tanya McTavish Apr 28, 2014
  • Cedric
    Apr 24, 2014

    Thanks for your help Tanya !

    Cedric Apr 24, 2014
  • Caroline
    Apr 26, 2014

    Hello Tanya,

    Good information, thanks-
    So I have a little predicament. I came over in 1999 on a J1 as a au pair- switched to an F1,
    then to an H1-B, which I renewed. I have since got married and had a child here. Now I am in the process of getting permanent residency. Here lies the problem, after our interview I was asked about my J1 and the two year home residency requirement. I had never heard of this when I filed to change my status. I cannot find the original DS-2019 ( it was 15 years ago) form or if it is the other one. I’m not sure what my next step is. I emailed the Au pair agency and SEVIS, Do you have any other suggestions?

    Caroline Apr 26, 2014
    • Apr 28, 2014

      Emailing the Au Pair agency is the right step. They should have records you need. Tanya

      Tanya McTavish Apr 28, 2014
  • Camilla
    Apr 30, 2014

    Ciao Tanya,

    First of all I have to add my voice to the chorus of thankyous! You are helping us all so much by dedicating so much of your energy and time replying to our enquiries. Really, thank you very, very much. This is such a great help.

    I am feeling very nervous about my situation (I am not alone, I know!) and hope you’ll have some words of encouragement for me.

    I am Italian. I am currently on the 3rd year of my J-1 visa. On my first year, I received US government funding (roughly $37,000). On the following years I did not, but the visa is still the same one (it has been extended and the site of activity changed) and once subject, always subject.

    I am currently working for a non-profit, which extended my J-1 visa for two more years, bringing it to the maximum allowed time, which is 5 years. So my J-1 as it is now, will expire in 2016. My current employer would like to hire me though, and sponsor me for a H1B. But obviously, first there is the damn 2-year thing to be waived.

    So my questions are:

    – If I apply for the waiver on No-Objection ground, and have it denied, can I still stay in the US working for my current employer, until the date of expiration of my J-1? Or applying for the waiver will in itself jeopardize also the validity of the J-1? I am worried that filing for the waiver may be seen an intent in immigrating to the US, which is against the purpose of the J-1 visa.

    – The fact that you can’t appeal once the decision is taken is terrifying, so I want to give the waiver my best shot… But really, I can apply only on No-Objection ground. It seems that in this case, there is not much you can do to support your case. Either you get it or you don’t, right? I am just wondering if you would recommend hiring a lawyer, or if I should do it myself and hope for the best.

    I know two people who obtained a waiver (and filed it themselves) and were exactly in my same situation, but all the information I am getting so far from forums and websites are really pessimistic. Do you have some words of wisdom to share with me? I really don’t know why Italy would want me back, considered the level of unemployment we have in my field! It is crazy…

    Thank you very much again in advance. This is really appreciated!

    Camilla Apr 30, 2014
  • Bryan
    May 1, 2014

    Hi Tanya, its really great that you’re helping everyone out. I am subject to the two-year home (Brazil) rule after coming to the US on a J-1 visa. Do you know if this two-year rule also prevents me from working in another country (e.g., Canada), or will I need to obtain a ‘No Objection Statement’ from Brazil before working outside of the US and my home country?

    Thanks in advance!

    Bryan May 1, 2014
  • Albert
    May 1, 2014


    I have a question for you. If I applied for a j-1 waiver at the beginning of the calendar year approximately in october 2014, would I be able to start my job by January 2015? or all applications are reviewed to start late in 2015??

    Thank you


    Albert May 1, 2014
    • EDDY
      Jun 8, 2014

      Hello Everybody,

      I congratulate you all of for your supports and comments on the 2 years rule does apply (J-1) US. So i get something that is still unclear for me now.

      If i am subjected to this rule and then after spending 7 months back home. i go back to US for a 5 months program when i will return home again country will those 7 months still be counted? or will i have to restart in one

      Great thanks in advance!!!

      EDDY Jun 8, 2014
  • Ilia
    May 4, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    I was reading all your comments. They are so helpful. Thank you.
    I also have some questions with you if you would help me.
    Unfortunately I am subject to 2 year rule that I got in 2012. I came to US through an exchange program that gave me this infamous rule. My DC2019 says that program was total $18000 in which $11000 was funded by University of Minnesota. But in reality I have not got any fund from US(university). A during the program I was working as a trainee and earned about $11000. As I know this 11000$ is shown on my DC2019 that is considered as a fund. Also I have payed for program fee and classes I took at University of minnesota, all this was part of the program. Also here is one interesting thing, I have a friend who is from my country and came to US exactly with the same program. And he did not have 2 year requirement. after finishing J-1 visa I applied MBA and got F-1 visa. I am still working on MBA program that will be done in 2015. I just found out that I won Green Card lottery and I am not able to get it.
    My plan is to apply for a waiver and then schedule an appointment for Green card. Base on all the mentioned above what is your opinion? how can i apply for a waiver and what reasons can I state in waiver application to get this 2 year rule waived? I am very confused and need to figure out what steps I’m supposed to follow. Your help will be greatly appreciated. thanks ahead. If you wont be able to respond this post please email me. here is my email address:

    Ilia May 4, 2014
  • Sho
    May 7, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    You have a fabulous website and a clear and comprehensive system of answering questions!

    I was on a J1 visa in the US in 2002, while I was an Indian citizen. Due to professional reasons at the time we (a bunch of us were interning from college together) we did not stay in the US for the entire duration of our internship and returned early to India. Since then I’ve moved to Australia, studied worked and become a citizen there while renouncing my Indian citizenship.

    I am currently in the UK. My husband has recently been offered a job in the US on a L1 visa however since I fall short on my J1-2 year rule by 4 months, I am unable to apply for a L2 with him. That said, being an Australian citizen, am I eligible to apply for the E-3 visa, without fulfilling the 4 month requirement right now? I was hoping to accompany my husband and work in the US on an E-3 visa and in the meantime either travel back home for holidays and fulfil the 4 month retirement over a period of time OR even look at applying for a waiver (I still need to figure the government funding thing). Is that a feasible option by you?

    Really appreciate your assistance with this.

    Thanks Tanya! :)

    Sho May 7, 2014
  • Madina Rahmon
    May 7, 2014

    Hi Tanya. Sorry, I may repeat my question further to your previous comments regarding green card eligibility, but still…I’m completing my Humphrey fellowship (part of Fulbright program) in July and got news that I won green card lottery. I assume I can no way waive the 2-year requirement and process my green card? Any chance? I’m from Tajikistan

    Many thanks in advance for your consideration.

    Madina Rahmon May 7, 2014
  • John
    May 7, 2014

    Thanks for replies Tanya,

    I have quick question. I have recently received news that I have won lottery for 2015 green card. I have several history with J1. First I was under home country grand in 2006-2010 with 2 year rule applied and then got back and worked back home between 2010 – 2013 . So I assume I have satisfied 2 year rule for that period. Now I came back in Jan 2013 under J1 as well but funded from private institution. Consular services marked 2 year rule but left unmarked the basis for 2 year rule. Now that I got the lottery was not sure about the basis and under what basis should I try to waive it. What do u think I should do?

    Thanks so much, you are saver.

    John May 7, 2014
  • cj
    May 8, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    Thank you for your information in this webpage. I was a J1 visa from August 2010 to December 2013. I did my Master Degree and 18 months of Academic Training. I am married with a Green Card Holder. At this moment I am in my home Country doing the 2 years and my wife is going to stay in US. My questions are the followings:

    – She is doing the 5 years requirements in order to get her US citizenship. I heard that with the new laws, that the time for the marriage petition of a GC holder and US citizen is the same (6 months). Can you confirm that??

    -What is the best time she can submit the petition for me prior of 2 year end? At the moment a have 56 days out of 730 ( I did couple of trips to US with my B1,).

    Thanks in advance

    cj May 8, 2014
  • Lela
    May 8, 2014

    Hello! Your blog is very very helpful thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience.

    I am having an issue with the “subject” thingy. I came to U.S as an Au Pair to learn English…, after a year in that visa I decided to stay here as student to I went back to my home country (Venezuela) to get the student visa (F1). I went to my appointment and as soon as the officer realized I had the “subject to 2years rule” in my visa he refused to give me the new visa. I went home and I wrote an email to the consulate asking to please review my case, and two days passed and I got a call from them asking me to go back to the embassy, they did not asked me anything at all they stamped my j1 visa saying: “cancelled without prejudice” and they stamped the new student visa for 5 years. I came back I got my bachelor degree and I fall in love with my now husband who is American. We are applying for the green card and we had the interview today and the lady told me if I stayed the two years in my country. I told her that I did not because they cancelled that visa and as far as I knew I did not need to do that. She told me that she needed to review that and that they were going to get back to us within two weeks.

    I’m driving my self crazy trying to figure out if the rule still applies to me even when the visa got cancelled, and if the rule does apply, can I get it waive? My visa says subject to 212(e) two years rule” it doesn’t say INA in front of the 212.

    Please help meeeeee!!!! I have to wait for their response but I want to have your opinion before that!

    Thanks so much in advance!

    Lela May 8, 2014
  • Naweed Ahmadi
    May 8, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    I am a masters student from Afghanistan and came to the United States last August. I am subject to the 2 year rule and would like to apply a waiver. I have worked for the USAID funded programs in Afghanistan and am feeling a fear of persecution if I return home. Since my current graduate program will complete in August, 2015 (in one year from now), would you recommend starting the application process now or starting it after I graduate? If I apply for it now, would my Fulbright grant be terminated?

    Thanks in advance for your advice.


    Naweed Ahmadi May 8, 2014
  • Abhishek
    May 9, 2014

    Hi Tanya,
    First my background. I visited the US on J1 in 2012 and again on another J1 in 2013. Both times, I was subject. My questions :
    1. Since the time I returned from J1 program in 2012, I will have served around 17 months in my home country before I leave for US for grad school. I want to know if the time spent in my home country after returning from the J1 in 2013 counts towards both the J1 penalties, i.e. if that time can count to partially fulfil both my J1 penalties or there is no overlap, I must serve 4 yrs at home.

    2. Given that I was subject due to ‘Special skills’ both times, I should be able to get waiver. In that case, can I apply for a waiver of two separate HRR requirements with the same application ? I do see an option of listing down all J1 programs in the online form.

    Thanks in advance for the reply :)

    Abhishek May 9, 2014
  • Avinashh
    May 13, 2014

    Hello Tanya

    Firstly, I would like to thank you for such a valuable information and am sure its helping all the J1 aspirants. Am Aviinashh and I have done Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management and later on went to do PG in International Tourism and Hospitality Management from the University of Bedfordshire, UK. Am planning to apply for a J1 visa for training in the Hospitality industry. Am from India and India does fall under the “2 year home residency requirement”. I have gone through the “2009 Revised Exchange Visitor Skills List” on the website of Department of State ( I searched for the 2014 list but couldn’t find any) anyways, according to the list, Hospitality/ Tourism/ Leisure Industry falls under “GROUP 52”. And if i look at country wise list, India DOESN’T have GROUP 52 under it. Now my question is as follows:

    *Do they issue the “2 year home residency requirement” by country wise? as in INDIA does falls under the The Exchange Visitor Skills List? (OR)

    * or is it the skills? because GROUP 52 doesnt come under India and so its not under the special skill so am NOT a subject of the 2 year home residency requirement…right? (OR)

    * Does it have to do with good/bad mood of the Visa officer when i give the interview at the US consulate?

    If you remember, you have answered to a query of DILP on March 26th 2014 and he’s in the hospitality industry as me and the 2 year DIDN’T apply to him.

    Am just confused between the above 3 options and the following is the 2009 Revised Exchange Visitor Skills List so that you can refer to GROUP 52.

    Will be waiting for your answer and Thanks a lot in advance

    Avinashh May 13, 2014
  • Fulbright Alumnus
    May 21, 2014


    Your post is very informative. Thank you. I have a question.

    Do you know anyone who was on US funded Fulbright scholarship and got a favorable waiver recommendation under no obligation category? I am wondering if all such cases are denied or some cases are not.


    Fulbright Alumnus May 21, 2014
  • May 24, 2014

    Dear Tanya,

    Thanks for your great posts. I just wanted to know whether it was the ‘no objection’ letter route you went by and why its the case that ‘the more “important” your program and the more funding you receive, the easier it is to obtain the waiver.’ I would have thought the less US funded the more chances you have of them granting the waiver given that a lot wasn’t spent.

    I am about to receive 10000 from a government sponsored state department programme that is fairly high profile and new in Africa. I am married to a us citizen and disclosed that info with the local US Embassy, Given my government rank I am also unlikely to apply the management skills in the next two years, what are your views. I look forward to your response.

    A.C May 24, 2014
  • Sana
    May 27, 2014

    Hi Tanya

    I am working as a research scholar with holding a J1 status (with two YHRR). Now I have got admission in PhD (as a TA, fully funded) and got my I-20. I have been told by some folks that VO may deny my F1 visa and ask me to stay in my country for 2 years first. I am confused and thinking about going back to Pakistan and applying for F1 or instead applying for a waiver on the basis of my US citizen son (exceptional hardship case). Moreover I am also concerned about travelling to Canada instead of Pakistan to apply for F1.
    What will be my chances of getting F1 or waiver in your opinion?


    Sana May 27, 2014
  • Paulo
    May 29, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    I had a J-1 Visa (2 year rule does apply) this academic year, serving as FLTA in an American college (founding provided by the college –there was no founding from my home country). Now I’m back in Europe, but I was offered a job to teach in a US high-school.

    So, my question is: do you think it would be easy to get a waiver in my case?

    Thank you so much for what you are doing,

    Paulo May 29, 2014
  • Ty
    May 30, 2014


    Here is my case:

    I’m a chinese citizen who grew up overseas and don’t even speak chinese. P.R. china is the only country i hold permanent residency for. However, I went to college in Singapore, during which I was an exchange student for 6 month, under J-1, this was Aug-2012 to Jan 2013. I was not sponsored by neither Chinese nor US government, but tuition waiver because of the exchange program. My visa stamp says I’m a subject, but the DS-2019 is not checked. 6 month later, July 2013, I started my grad school in the US under F-1.

    What makes the case more complicated is, I’m under a special scholarship supported by Singapore government which requires scholar to be employed by a Singapore registered company for 6 YEARS after graduation. However, I don’t have to physically present in SIngapore, because the 6 year policy include cases such as being hired by US company in Singapore but later transfer to US offices.

    P.R. China has pretty much all the professions on their skill list. Even worse, parts of the the requirement for a No objection waiver are (found here:
    – The NOS applicant must have been present in the US for one year at the time of application;

    – The NOS applicant must be at least six months from completing the J1 program;

    I mean, WTF? so only people in a 18 month + program are eligible?
    I went back 2 years ago to see some remote family members, it was a total nightmare. People judge the hell out of me, because I dont speak the language but I look chinese….

    Only less than a year away from obtaining my master degree of a profession that has increasing demand in the area. I’m looking for possible ways to stay in the US after.

    But given my case……Am I screwed?

    Ty May 30, 2014
  • Ty
    May 30, 2014

    Btw, after you completed the 2 year rule, do you have to file anything before apply for H-1 visa or such?

    Ty May 30, 2014
  • John
    May 30, 2014

    Thank you for all your replies – you are doing a very helpful job!

    My question is the following:
    How strict do the officers check if you have fulfilled the 2-year rule when you apply for a greencard? Do you have to submit a ton of documents that show that you have been physically present in the country? Or do they just ask you, and you reply?

    Thanks a lot,


    John May 30, 2014
  • Malik
    Jun 2, 2014

    I have a question:

    I have found that the consulate signed the 212e of my DS2019 without choosing if I am subject or not to the two years rule. Then I noticed that they wrote on the Visa 212(E) Applies-skills list.

    I checked the skills list and it is clear that I am not subject. I am still in my country and it is clear that this is a mistake. Can the consulate correct this issue or it needs to go through all the way written above?

    Thank you

    Malik Jun 2, 2014
  • Ashwin Kumar
    Jun 4, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    First of all, a big thank you for such a great post.

    I have an extremely unique case. I am from India and I am currently in the United States on J1 visa (I am doing a research project at University of Illinois). My J1 visa is valid from May 21, 2014 and expires on August 15, 2014.

    Unfortunately, I am subject to two year home residency requirement while I should not have been. In my DS 2019 form, the consular officer has marked on “subject to two year residency requirement based on the exchange visitor skill list”. However, I checked on the website ( ) and I found that my skill is not in India’s skill list. This means that it was a mistake by the consular officer.

    Specifically, my subject code is 11.0701 which is not present in India’s skill list. I checked this with one of my friend. He has also gone with the same subject code and he as not been subject to. This is really killing me as I am planning to go to the US for a job on H1B visa next year.

    What should I do? Please help me.

    Ashwin Kumar Jun 4, 2014
  • Kamila
    Jun 5, 2014

    Hi, Tanya

    I really need some advice on my DS-2019 and J-1 Visa. I m a citizen of Kyrgyzstan and I applied for J-1 visa from UAE. As per State Dpt Kyrgyzstan is not in the list for 2 year rule and the consular while interviewing me ticked non subject to return to home country, however, after that he did correction with pen again (I guess he considered me as a resident of UAE which is in the list) and he confirmed that I can collect my visa in 5 days. The next day the consulate called me back to return the original DS-2019, so I returned to them back and they said they will send to me along with my passport via post. So when I received my passport back I saw they changed and did very clear correction to Subject to 2 year rule on DS-2019 and Visa as well. In this case do I have a chance to apply for waiver or what are the possibilties to extend or waive 2 year rule. Thank you. Kamila.

    Kamila Jun 5, 2014
  • Sumi
    Jun 6, 2014

    One of my friend who was a postdoc came to US on J1 (3 years program), but
    he had to terminate it at the end of 15 months due to personal reasons at home. And he left to India.
    As 2 year home rule is applicable to his J1, can he apply for a waiver if
    he gets a new postdoc position in US? or is it that as the J1 itself is
    terminated , there is no chance of a waiver application?
    Kindly help

    Sumi Jun 6, 2014
  • mehdi
    Jun 7, 2014

    hello tanya
    thank you for your blog, it’s very constructive, sorry for my english I have a few questions
    1)I have a J1 visa, in my visa is noted two year Does apply (ALG) its mean in Algeria because I am originally from Algeria but it is 4 years I live in France, i got my visa J1 in France beaucause i reside in France so i must stay deux years in Algerie or France
    2) on my J1 visa is written two year Does apply) but on my DS2019 I am not subject to two years is ticked NOT SUBJECT TO THE TWO YEAR RESIDENCE REQUIREMENT, please help me I don’t know what to do because I have been selected for the DV2014 and I have an appointment for a visa emmigrant and receive later card grren
    a lawyer told me that it is a erreure, I must take my DS2019 with me the day of the interview
    if I’m concerned with the rule of two years at the same time I can get my visa emmigrant?

    mehdi Jun 7, 2014
  • Carla
    Jun 8, 2014


    I have a question, hope you can answer it. I had a Fulbright and I know for sure that I have to go back to my home country. However, during the orientation I remember that they told us that you don’t have to go back to your home country for 2 consecutive years, but even if you go for 3 months and then come back to the US those 3 months count as part of the 2 years. What do you know about that?

    Carla Jun 8, 2014
  • Dave
    Jun 9, 2014

    Hi Tanya
    I have been trying to find an answer for this for loooong time now, hope you can answer it. It should be simple..
    I am a Fulbright PhD student, the PhD takes around 4.5 years the first two years are funded by the Fulbright, and the two years should apply after the termination of my program , what do we mean by program ? is it the first two years? what happen to all my visits to my country during the PhD ? some of them are long do they count?

    Thanks in advance

    Dave Jun 9, 2014
  • Mirjana
    Jun 16, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    I am just about to embark on a Fulbright journey, starting this September.

    At the moment I have got 6 months financing from Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program. My host in the US is willing to provide financing for the additional 6 months. Even my home institution is willing to provide additional funding to help me do proper research. However, I am not certain whether Fulbright establishment will be willing to provide an extension of the visa. What do you think?

    I would like to apply for additional funding from European funds to finish the research I will be starting in the US this September but I am worried about this 2 year home residency rule. If I receive funding I will be able to have financing for extra 2 years but if I understand right 212(e) I will not be able to enter the US.

    I am aware that it will be almost impossible to get no objection waiver for my case and don’t know if there is a way out.



    Mirjana Jun 16, 2014
  • Tej
    Jun 16, 2014

    This was a wonderful and informative article. I did not know about the advisory option, and now I got to know about it. Thanks a lot.

    Tej Jun 16, 2014
  • kumar
    Jun 17, 2014

    I am on JI exchange Visa as a Visiting Scientist for one year and I have funding from my country’s government. And my spouse on J2 dependent Visa. She got work permit in US government (EAD). She start working in University as a research assistant. My question is if it possible to change her Visa status after one year.She plan to continue her career in the USA.

    kumar Jun 17, 2014
  • Ratna
    Jun 19, 2014

    Hi Tanya,
    I am in US as a J1 holder, I am trying to get waiver from 2 Years home country resident requirement rules. Could you give me some idea if I get waiver from that rules means Can I eligible to work in US ? I want to change my status from J1 to other like H1b. How could be possible for that ? Could you give me some advise for me.


    Ratna Jun 19, 2014
  • Niyi Busari
    Jun 19, 2014


    Thanks a lot for your very informative post. I need some information o. The waiver.
    I just received the J1 visa as a research scholar. I have some questions. Do I need to have another visa category I’m moving to ready maybe H1 from another job or F1 for school or the green card before applying for the waiver from my embassy? Or I have to have the other visa I am moving to before applying. Also, is the j1 canceled once I apply for the waiver?

    Niyi Busari Jun 19, 2014
  • BA
    Jun 28, 2014

    in my case It is mentionned ‘not subject’ is that mean I got the waiver
    thank you

    BA Jun 28, 2014
  • Viv
    Jul 2, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    A great informative post, more useful than any other material available online.

    I am a doctor from India who joined as a research scholar in medicine on Indo-US fellowship (funded by Indian and US government). My DS-2019 has two year requirement checked for government financing. I shall be completing my one year tenure in November 2014.

    I am getting opportunity to stay back in research position from good US universities. Is there a way I can apply for green card from J-1 directly in EB-1 or any other category? Or can I switch to O visa to carry on as an employee of a research university?

    Your reply shall be highly appreciated.

    Thanks again

    Viv Jul 2, 2014
  • Nan
    Jul 6, 2014

    First, thank you for all the information you have provided. My question is this. I am here on a J1 visa for a medical residency program and I am subject to the two year rule. My husband is an American citizen and works for a government agency and is considered to be an essential worker. Is there a way to get an IAG waiver because of his work?

    Thank you,

    Nan Jul 6, 2014
  • Amansingh
    Jul 8, 2014

    Hey Hi,

    I’m in bit confuse situation.

    I’m a Indian nationalist. I am pursuing my MSc in Information Systems in France and got a chance to apply for internship in USA.
    So I applied for visa from Paris and got my J1 visa from Paris.
    But I’m subject to ‘2years’ rule as per visa stamp. But as per DS-2019 I’m not.
    My French Visa is expiring in end of Aug 2014 while My J1 Status and internship is till April 2015.
    In which embassy should I go for waiver? French or Indian?
    When should I actually start the process?
    Thanks in advance. Take care. Cheers.

    Amansingh Jul 8, 2014
  • Sabina
    Jul 9, 2014

    Hi Tanya.

    I am in the same situation. I was a Fulbright researcher in 2012 and I got J1 visa. After ending with my Fulbright program, I entered master program in the U.S and went back home for summer and changed my visa to F1 student status. I sill have 1 more year for ending of my I-20. I’ve also recently married to the U.S citizen here. My husband can’t leave the U.S. because of his work here and he has 2 children from previous marriage. His son is autism spectrum disease and he get continues treatment. In this kind of treatments is very important the participation of both parents of the child. Although we have a great love, to live separately 2 years is too much. I am going home every summer vocation for 2 months, to fulfill my 2-years home residence requirement of previous J-1 visa, I just was at home 4 months so far. Now we are thinking about apply to waiver of these requirement. Do you think in this situation, the ground of family hardship may help to get waiver or is it seem hopeless too..? And I also I wonder, If I am able to spend at home 1 year of this 2-years requirement, would it be better chance to get waiver or it doesn’t matter? and 1 more question, in case of my pregnancy and all these conditions with my husband’s not being able to leave the country, would be able to increase the chance of my getting waiver of 2-years home presence requirement? Please I need any advise of knowledgeable person before applying to waiver.. I will get attorney too. But I would do appreciate your advise too..!
    Thank you!

    Sabina Jul 9, 2014
  • Jenny
    Jul 11, 2014

    Dear Tanya,
    Thank you very much for your post. I need your help now. I have just had J1 visa – 1 year which stated I k subject to 212 rule, however, the consulor did not mention any at my DS2019, it was all blank.
    I m visiting scholar/ goverment visitor/ specialist to US forest service, link to USDA, however I dont receive any funding from either US goverment or my goverment. I pay for all my spent, Invitor site only provide lab, office space …
    I wonder why I m applied for this rule, what should I do about my case?
    Many thanks

    Jenny Jul 11, 2014
  • j1visitor
    Jul 13, 2014

    Hello everyone! Does anyone know what one needs to prove a home residency requirement at the embassy? And what will be asked there? Thanks so much! Your responses will be greatly appreciated!

    j1visitor Jul 13, 2014
  • jojo
    Jul 17, 2014

    I was a j1 visa holder and was subject to the two year rule. I applied for a waiver of same and it was granted. I got married and filed my paperwork to become a lawful permanent resident . However, I forgot to include a copy of the waiver in my package. Would this cause an issue or delay the processing of my application? Please respond as I am a bit worried. Thanks!

    jojo Jul 17, 2014
  • Saira Ali
    Jul 18, 2014

    Hi Tanya

    I was recently visiting US and was offered a job position for an architect. However I only have a visit visa so someone suggested I apply for a J-1 and then start work as a trainee or intern. Now I have returned to my home country and looking for options. H1 visa is so far off considering april is away. What do you suggest? I would appreciate your help.



    Saira Ali Jul 18, 2014
  • Graham
    Jul 21, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    This post and all the replies are really an invaluable source of information, you’re provinding an incredible service here for navigating the pain and complexity of these J1 visa requirements.

    I have a couple of questions that you may have insight on:

    1) When calculating 2 years, assuming you’ve made a fair few trips out the country, would you still count part-days (i.e. my flight left at 5pm, is that a day in the country?)… I’d hope they don’t nit-pick down to that level, but…!

    2) The rule states ” until it is established that such person has resided and been physically present in the country of his nationality or his last residence for an aggregate of at least two years following departure from the United States”

    Who is doing the establishing? Immigration, when you apply for, for instance, an H1-B? And also on the last residence front… I was a permanent resident of Australia when I got my J1, it was issued in Sydney, and I was funded by an American/Australian entity, but I was a UK Citizen travelling on my UK passport and on the DS2019 it says UK under “legal permanent residence country” (I was never asked to provide this info by my DS2019 sponsor, they just assumed it was UK based on passport)… I’ve been back in Australia for almost 2 years, do you think it’s going to be a bunfight to try to show that Australia is my country of “last residence” and that that is where the 2 years should be? The UK never knew or cared…!

    Thanks so much if you can offer any insight here.

    Graham Jul 21, 2014
  • Lizy
    Jul 22, 2014

    Hi Tanya,
    I have a question to ask you,I’m a j2 and I have an american citizen baby with rett syndrome I need to know if there is any possibility for my family to stay in usa because of her disability The first time my husband came in usa that was in 2009 on the visa they mentioned this (212(e)rules does apply )and he return back in my country in 2011 just for 1 week onces back on the visa they mentioned 212 (e) does not apply and the ds2019 they checked not subject to two year residence requierement.What can I do because we just have 1 more month before our ds2019 be expire.Help me please

    Lizy Jul 22, 2014
  • Jay
    Jul 28, 2014

    Dear Tanya,
    Thanks for the excellent blog with such valuable information. I am in a funny situation like many others. I have worked in the US as a scientist on a J-1 visa. I did not have the 2 yrs home residency on that visa (not also on my DS-2019 form). Now I hold a multiple entry B1/B2 visa, which is valid till 2022. My wife has got a Fulbright fellowship (researcher) for 12 months and she is likely to receive a J-1 visa with compulsory 2 yrs home residency. We have a 7 yrs old daughter, who is in the 3rd standard. I need to accompany them so that my daughter can continue her school and my wife can pursue her career. My choices to go with them are either with my existing B1/B2 visa or as a J-2 dependent. In both cases I have some problems. If I go with the “B” visa I cannot work in the US, which is quite boring for professionals like me. But if I go as a J-2 dependent I will get the home residency too, which is kind of a punishment to me without having committed any guilt. It is unlikely that I can find some company/university, which could file a H1-B visa for me in this short time (the fellowship starts from November, 2014). FYI, we hold different nationality and citizenship, and I live as a permanent resident in my wife’s country. Our expertise are included on both countries skill lists. I am confused what to do? Could you or someone please advice? I appreciate your time and invaluable suggestions.

    Best regards,

    Jay Jul 28, 2014
  • lILY
    Aug 14, 2014

    I have a question. Assuming I get an F1 visa to do a second master’s degree (since my j1 is over and did not get a waiver) will I be able to minimize the two year rule by going back and forth for like 4 months (summers) while I am on the F status? Will that time out of the US count towards the two year rule if im spending summers at my home country and im on the F visa?

    lILY Aug 14, 2014
  • Gigi
    Aug 19, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    Definitely very valuable and informative article. I has reviewed almost all messages and replies, but I would like to ask you some questions anyway. I am on J-1 visa (18 months training program and didn’t get any funding from the Department of State, do not have any “Exchange visitor skills list”; I has covered all my expenses). This is my last internship year.

    My visa stamp states that I am not a subject to HRR.
    My DS-2019 says (check mark) that I am not a subject to HRR.

    I’m going to end up my internship in couple weeks and get marry in September (he is USA citizen) and apply for green card as an immediate relative. My questions are:

    1) probably I am 99.9 % not subject to the 2 year HRR, can you please confirm it?
    2) after finishing my internship I have 30 days to leave country. Will I be able to stay here in USA legally with my husband as long as USCIS process is pending (get marry and send documents shortly)?
    3) can my J-1 visa sponsor somehow affect my visa status, DS-2019 status or entire process?

    Thank you in advance!

    Gigi Aug 19, 2014
  • Hi Tanya,

    My case is a bit different , i would really appreciate your advise on the same.

    I went on J1 for an international internship in 2010 for 5 months, it has been already been 4 years.
    Now my visa says – 212e applies but ds form doesnt but that is not the concern.
    I believe i am not subject to 212e as my program was not funded by US or my home country + my skill is not in the skill list of the country + i am not a medical student.
    Now i will be applying for L1 with my company, my question is do i need to request for advisory opinion when i am sure i am not subject to 212e. I will be applying for work visa and there is a question regarding 212e.

    Now in the case, i am applying for advisory opinion , i have also heard cases where the advisory board just make up some skill and put you for in 2 year rule or something.

    Could you please give your thoughts on it ?


  • Emmanuel
    Aug 22, 2014

    Hello Tanya, I deeply appreciate your post and replies to all our questions.
    I got a question for you. I had a J1 visa (2 years rule applied, USDA funded project) for which I spent 17 months in my home country, then obtained an F1 visa, then OPT and finally STEM extension (current status). My current employer wants to file an H1B visa for me but I still have to spend 5 months at home or get the waiver.
    You have mentioned that it may be possible to obtain the H1B status but not the actual visa. Because I am mexican and I had the OPT, I know I was able to visit Mexico for less than 30 days and then reenter US without a valid visa. Of course I had to allege for “visa revalidation” and show Customs and Border Protection a proof of employment, my expired F1 visa, and I20 (I only had to be sure I had plenty of time for my flight connection, and patience to explain the CBP officer what was going on).
    My question is, Do you think I can change my status from STEm extension to H1B, and visit Mexico through visa revalidation?

    Thank you so much,

    Emmanuel Aug 22, 2014
  • ElCid
    Aug 23, 2014

    Hello Tanya,
    Just found your blog. So interesting!
    I have a quick question: I am now under an F1 Visa doing a PhD. I used to be on a J1 during two years because I used to be a Fulbright scholar from 2009-2011. During and after my Fulbright years I have been to my my home country many times, does these times count toward the 2-year requirement? and how feasible is in your experience / knowledge to get a waiver for former Fulbright students?



    ElCid Aug 23, 2014
  • Ana
    Aug 26, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    Thank you for your post! Help me a lot!!! But I have another question. I am from Brazil and I am doing a Post Doc in USA. I am subject to the 2 years rule because my Goverment is paying my fellowship. So, if I return the money to my country, do you think I can waive this rule and stay in USA?

    Thank you very much,

    Ana Aug 26, 2014
  • Saul Rodriguez
    Sep 8, 2014

    Tanya, thanks for so much help. I have a question. You always say that government funding is very hard to get a waiver. But in my case the money came from my home country (not the US, but Mexico). Do you think this might make it easier to get a waiver? Also, my visa said DOES/DOES NOT apply but in the DS2019 said it applied due to government funding, so I guess I’m subject…right?


    Saul Rodriguez Sep 8, 2014
  • Melissa
    Sep 12, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    I am an Aussie that had a J2 visa earlier this year since my husband received a J1 to undergo work for the US which was funded by the Australian Government. I have the stamp on my passport, ‘bearer is subject to section 212(E) Two year rule does apply. ASTL’. Can I still enter the US using the Visa Waiver Program? I cannot get a response from the ESTA info phone number in Australia. Our next trip is for business but is for 2 weeks and funded by the Australian govt again.

    Melissa Sep 12, 2014
  • osman
    Sep 16, 2014

    Hi Tanja,

    I have couple of questions for you I ll appreciated if you can inform me about it. I am currently in states with j1 visa and I have the 2 year rule on my visa. The company I am working for stated that they want to apply for H1B visa for me but they said that I still will have to return in July 2015 ( end date of my ds2019) and come back to us in october, does it really work this way? Am I eligible for H1B visa? Can I look for another employer while I am in US if it doesn’t work out with them?



    osman Sep 16, 2014
  • Ozan
    Oct 7, 2014


    I came to Los Angeles on August 31, 2011 with J1 Visa. I left USA on February,2012. I am subjected to 2 years rule. I stayed in my country for 18 months. I came to USA again for master education on August 15, 2013 with F1 Visa. I went to my country again this summer(June-July 2014) and stayed there in 2 months.

    I have a question for this. Is 2 years rule mandatory to be done incessantly(nonstop time)? So I can go to my country every summer in order to complete 2 years. Can I do this way?

    Ozan Oct 7, 2014
  • lostinJ1
    Oct 17, 2014

    Hi. can you clear some of my doubts please.
    I am on a J1 visa doing my internship, I plan to quit it and leave US mid-term.
    if I do that, 1. Can I re-enter US on my B1/B2 visa after a little while, for a couple of months to visit?
    2. does the two year rule mean that I have to be in India ‘at a stretch’ for two years? or can it be a cumulative period?
    3. do I have to start the waiver (2 year home stay) as soon as I leave US?
    4. Can I get a J2 visa (my spouse has J1 and is in US), after I quit my J1 and leave US?


    lostinJ1 Oct 17, 2014
  • Moushumi Shah
    Oct 20, 2014

    Hi Tanya
    I was subject to 212E and therefore, currently spending my 2 years in my home country. I have already started the paper work. The 2 -yr waiver ends in feb 2015. The NVC has notified me that all paperwork has been received by them. Does it mean that the Consulate in my home country will schedule my interview in the near future. In such a case, I will wait till my waiver is complete? OR the NVC will notify the Consulate to schedule the interview only after Feb 2015, when the waiver is complete? Any thoughts?


    Moushumi Shah Oct 20, 2014
  • ernest kouadio
    Oct 22, 2014

    i need your advise!
    here is my case. from september 17, 2013 to november 7, 2013, i attended a us governement funded program in the us with a j1 visa. the program ended november 7, 2013, then i returned in my home country (Cote d’ivoire) that same day. then on may 5th 2014, i noticed i won the green card lottery. the problem is that i have not yet fullfilled the 2 year home residence attached to the j1 visa i received to attend the program in the us. the 2 years will be fullfilled on november 7, 2015 whereas the processing of the green card lottery visa ends on september 30. in one word, my 2 year home residence will not be fullfilled before the closing date of the processing of diversity visa related to the green card lottery i won. what can i do. please i need the advise of all of you.

    ernest kouadio Oct 22, 2014
  • Elango
    Nov 12, 2014

    Hi, Me and my wife went to USA on J1 & J2 visa through my employer. We returned back to our home country (India) last month. Our visa is subject to 212e. Can we able to apply for “L” type visa through my same employer during the “2-Year home residency Rule” period?

    Elango Nov 12, 2014
  • Khalid Masoodi
    Nov 13, 2014

    Hi Tanya,
    Your blog and answers are the most informative that I ever read anywhere else. Thank you for giving great advice to everyone. I also have some questions

    1. I was in USA from June 2010 till sept 6 2013 on a J1 exchange visitor programme. I travelled to India to check on my dad who was sick. Then I did not go back due to my fathers I’ll health and in the process I lost my job.

    Now I am applying for another Postdoc. Two PI s are ready to hire me. What is the process of applying for a 2 years waiver from India.
    I know the process of application if one is in India as many of my fiends did that. But I don’t know the process of one travels back to his home residence country.

    2. If I get this job, will I be able to get H1B visa.
    3. If I wait for another 6 months for my 2 years home residence to be completed can I again go on a J1 visa. I have heard that one can only be on a J1 for 5 years. Is that true. Thank you.

    Khalid Masoodi Nov 13, 2014
  • Khalid Masoodi
    Nov 13, 2014

    Correction to my last message.
    “I know the process of application if one is in USA as many of my fiends did that. But I don’t know the process for filing waiver if one travels back to his home residence country.

    Khalid Masoodi Nov 13, 2014
  • L
    Nov 14, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    I did an internship last summer with a J-1 visa and I am subject to the 212(e) because of the skills list. Now I am interviewing for a US company to start next year in October.

    – Should I apply for the waiver immediately or is it better to have an offer from the company for a stronger case on the waiver?
    – Do I need the waiver to apply for the H1-B visa or is it only needed by the time I would enter the US? In other words, can I apply for the H1-B without the waiver?


    L Nov 14, 2014
  • Elisa
    Nov 20, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    Thank you so much for providing such succinct information; I’ve been overwhelmed with what’s out there.

    Here’s my case:

    I’m a Fulbright scholar who finished her academic program in December 2013. Fulbright approved extending my DS-2019 for an additional 15 months so that I could complete an APT.

    During my APT time, the company I work for found a way to obtain an approved H-1B that’s good for 3 years, yet I’m still held to the 2-year foreign residency.

    I understand that because Fulbright’s involved, chances of getting a waiver are very limited even if I pay off my grant to my home country and they issue a No Objection statement; however, I already have the H-1B and all I’m looking for now is the possibility of travel outside the US.

    From your experience, would you say pursuing the waiver is an option here?

    Thanks in advance, really appreciate the time you took to create this post.


    Elisa Nov 20, 2014
  • Maria
    Nov 25, 2014

    Hi Tanya, thank you for advises on this page. It was great to find it on-line!
    Im currently on J1 Research Scholar, first I got a 2 year J1 visa, that say that im not a subject to the 2years role. Now, my program is extended for 3 more years, I have not leave the country after my visa expire, and so, didnt make a new visa cos Im not planing to travel, and in my new DS form there is no marks about being or not being a subject. My program sponsor is non-profit organization in US. What you think? Thank you!

    Maria Nov 25, 2014
  • kavya
    Nov 28, 2014

    I recently terminated my ECFMG sponsored j1 visa. And returned to India within one week as suggested by my sponsor.
    I have two questions:
    1. Can I enter the US on J2? (My husband is on j1) and when can I enter on J2, can I start the process now itself and do my 2 years home requirement later or do I have to complete my 2 years requirement first?
    2. How to start 2 year home requirement? I mean do I have to apply/inform someone? At the end of 2 years , what proof do I have to show that I was in India for 2 years?

    kavya Nov 28, 2014
  • Grace93
    Dec 15, 2014

    Hi, Tanya!! Your blog gives me a huge hope!!! I was in America on Summer Work & Travel program this year and currently I’m in my home country. On my DS-2019 form and my visa, I’m not subject to the 2-year residence requirement. So. this means I’m really not?

    Next year, I’m planning to go back to US on the same program. My agency told me I could participate in this program again. so am I subject to the 2-year bar?

    If I plan to marry my boyfriend (a US citizen) and get green card, do I still need to waiver two J-1 visas?

    I appreciate your advice very much!!!!!!!!! Thank you!!!

    Grace93 Dec 15, 2014
  • Maria
    Dec 16, 2014

    Hi Tanya,

    I am also from Belarus:)
    I was on a J-1 visa last summer and was subject to the 2-year home residence requirement. I went back home for a year and then came back to the US to start grad school. If I return to Belarus for 3 months every summer for a few years and will work there (and will have a proof by showing pay stubs), will those short visits counts towards “residence”?

    I am asking because I have read on some other websites that such short visits may not necessarily count, since “residence” (proved by paying bills, work, study) is required. However, I have not been able to find a blog entry when somebody would elaborate on their (un)successful proving of the 2 yhrr with the help of short summer breaks. So I wonder if you happen to know of any similar case and its outcome.

    Thanks a lot,

    Maria Dec 16, 2014
  • You
    Dec 22, 2014

    Hi all,

    Thanks for sharing all these very useful pieces of information about the J-1 visa waiver. I have a very back question: Are those who seek visa waiver subject or do not subject to the 2-year home residency condition? In other words, if I do not subject to this condition, do I still have to waive it?


    You Dec 22, 2014
  • Naveen
    Dec 22, 2014


    Than you for all the information you have shared. I have one question. What if I get my visa with Two-Year Rule Applied, but I don’t travel. Will the 2 year Rule still apply?


    Naveen Dec 22, 2014
  • Roberto
    Jan 4, 2015

    Dear Tanya,

    I have some questions regarding a J Waiver for a Fulbright grantee. I was engage in a MS from 2010 to 2012 with Fulbright funding. After the MS, I did a practical training for one year during which I applied for a waiver for the two-years home residence requirement. Unfortunately, the waiver application was denied (based on persecution). I had no option but to return to my home country for only two months when I moved to the UK for a PhD program. Therefore, I have only completed two months of the two years home residence requirement.

    – Can I reapply for the waiver using the same basis, i.e. persecution?
    – Is there another option to get rid of the requirement if I want to go back to the US after my PhD program?
    – What would be the chances to obtain an O visa with a PhD degree?

    Thank you very much in advance. I appreciate your time and consideration.
    Kind regards,

    Roberto Jan 4, 2015
  • Andres
    Jan 11, 2015

    HI Tanya,

    I’ve been reading your blog and due to your expertise I decided to ask you about my situation. I think that what you do is helpful to many people, keep up the good work!

    I’m originally from Argentina, I came in Jan 2009 to do an internship under a J1 visa in which the rule 212(e) applies. The internship lasted one year and although the majority of the funding came from Monsanto Co ($16800 out of the total $17000 as detailed in my DS-2019), the DS-2019 says that the 2-yr rule is based on “Government financing”. I believe this is because I did the internship appointed to a State University, which run Monsanto’s experiments for that year. In Jan 2010 I was offered a MSc degree, and after that a PhD degree, which I am about to finish in 2015. So, from 2010 until now I’ve been on a F1 visa as you can imagine. Now several opportunities are arising, from post-docs to job offers (some could be in Monsanto!, the same company financed me 6 years ago!). My questions are:
    1) Is it good idea to request the J1 waiver prior starting a post-doc? I think the chances of being denied may be high since I could do it by being in the OPT program.
    2) Should I look for a job, and with the job offer in hand apply for OPT and at the same time request the J1 waiver?
    3) Would it make any difference if I get a job with the same company that supported me several years ago?
    4) I’ve been trying to do a good job as a young researcher (publishing, participating in meetings, etc.). If I apply for the O visa, is there any chance I can get a job without eliminating the 2-yr rule?

    Any comment or suggestion will be highly appreciated. I am really frustrated about this issue of the 2-yr rule.

    Andres Jan 11, 2015
    Jan 15, 2015

    Hi Tanya, your post is really really helpful to understand the visa process.
    I have several questions related to J1 visa..I am staying in the U.S. with exchange program and I am doing internship at Washington DC. I got a J1 Visa(18month) sponsored by Korean government and state department as a exchange program for internship. and my visa has a Two Year Home Country Residence Requirement.

    The question is that I want to apply a Fulbright scholar program for graduate school and i knew that If i pass every step for it, they will give me a J1 Visa with a Two Year Home Country Residence Requirement. At this point, i wonder that whether I should apply Waiver for getting a new J1 visa or what should I do for it? Could you give me some recommendation for it? I am so confusing now and need to make sure that If i can get a J1 visa again.

    My first J1 visa was from August 2013 to February 2015. And if i apply a fulbright scholar program, it would be July 2015 and if I pass every steps and go to school in US, it would be August 2016. Please give me some advise. Thank you!

    JIEUN Jan 15, 2015
  • Tamar
    Jan 19, 2015

    Hi Tanya
    I am wondering about my case, I was fulbright scholarship student, it was FLTA, stay 9 months to teach and it started on 2013 september and finished on may 2014. and then I went back to home country but I got a job offer in USA. When I stayed last year, it was J-1 visa and there is 2 year residence rule. in case of that, how can I waiver j-1 to get h1b visa?

    Tamar Jan 19, 2015
  • Jason
    Jan 19, 2015

    Hi Tanya,

    What type of evidence did they need from you to show that you have satisfied home residency requirement?


    Jason Jan 19, 2015
  • Maya
    Jan 19, 2015

    Hi Tanya,

    Thank you for the information and everything, definitely very helpful. I am also in the club, subjected to the two-year rule as a Fulbright scholar. My husband and I are planning to have a baby about 1 month prior to our visa expiration due. Do you think that it is possible postpone our leave a little bit further due to baby or get a waiver? Do you know other similar cases? I am wondering what happens when the baby is born in the US and be an American citizen (or gets a passport). Will be still forced to leave? Would getting an attorney help? If it is impossible to get a waiver, what are the options to post-pone the rule? Which one do you think provides the longest solution?

    Thank you for your efforts in replying all of these messages!

    Maya Jan 19, 2015
  • hsh
    Jan 19, 2015

    Hi Tanya,
    Your post is very helpful and it is so incredible that you have responded to people’s questions as well. I am in India and got a J1 last year as I went to teach a short course (one week) in the US. There was no government funding involved. The University paid me directly. The reason it fell in the residency requirement category is that I teach in public health which is on the skills list. I am being interviewed for positions in the US and I’m wondering what I should do with regards to the H1 visa issue. Should I apply directly to the waiver program or should I approach a lawyer? I will have completed one year in June and likely start dates are August. Quite honestly, I am still not convinced that they had any real reason to issue me a J1 since I was the one who trained US students and didn’t receive any training myself. :( Thanks in advance.

    hsh Jan 19, 2015
  • Martin
    Jan 23, 2015

    Hi Tanya, this article is really helpful! In fact, now that I am reading the commentary section, I have hope once again! I have been lurking on the net without finding any advice.

    I have a question for you, hope you are still checking this section. :)

    I used to be a J1 exchange student, subject to 212 due to funding from my country. A year has passed since I left the states and I got a wonderful opportunity to work as a research scholar under J1 status. I read that you said that is possible for me to request another J1 as 212 restriction only affect to permanent residency (such as H, K, visas). Am I wrong?

    Hope you have a nice day,

    Martin Jan 23, 2015
  • Millie
    Jan 24, 2015

    Hello, Tanya!

    I just have a question about my J1 visa. I am in a one year internship here in the US, both my visa and DS 2019 form indicated that I am not subject to the 212 e.

    I would want to apply to my host company for a real job when I finish; I still have 6 months left before I accomplish my internship. I will need to go back to my home country to finalize my school papers once I finish.

    Now my question is, will it be possible for me to apply for a waiver when I am three months away from finishing? I was hoping that I if I could get a waiver, I will just go back home to fix my papers for a month or two and go back to the US for work.

    Millie Jan 24, 2015
  • Natalia
    Feb 3, 2015

    Hi Tanya!

    I have a situation somewhat similar to yours (J1 to F1 to J1 again). Can you please give me the contact information for the immigration specialist lawyer you were referring to here:
    “… the 2 year rule expert from Washington whose entire practice was based on obtaining 2 year rule waivers for his clients”. I would be very interested in getting his feedback on my situation, as well.


    Natalia Feb 3, 2015
  • SIMD
    Feb 8, 2015

    Hi Tanya,

    Thankyou for all your information and the time you take to help people who is suffering this “fabulous idea” which in my case is, going back to a country where you do not wanna stay anymore just because of a skill list.

    I will write bellow a summary of my case and if you kindly can give me your opinion i will really appreciate it.

    i came to the States in march 2013 with the program AuPair care, a cultural exchange program where you can study many cultural subjects depending on your preferences, unfortunately this program is basically to be a nanny, you have to work a limit (what means no more not less) of 45 hours per week helping with child care and child duties. in reality they leave the kids with you the whole day for you to take care of. The program ask for a minimum of 6 school credits per year. You suppose to study anything that includes knowledge about American culture. like music, cooking, art and stuff like that but English is the requirement.

    Now i am getting married and before I do my adjustment of status I wanted to change to the tourist visa, so I could get more time to prepare the wedding. But doing the procces to change my j1 visa to B2 I realized I cant do it. And that I might wont be available to stay with my husband since my j1 visa has the “2 year rules does apply” following your advices above. I realize that this apply on me, based on the skills list. my fiance and I are so scared because he doesnt want me to go and stay in another country (El Salvador) for 2 years and maybe see him on holidays or twice a year. we decided to get married because we dont want to live apart, but I had not idea about all of this. However I want to apply to the waiver with the not objection statement since the USA government is not a direct or indirect sponsor of this program and no one gave me money for it. In fact I paid to apply. but I am wondering if for any reason the USCIS denied my waiver. Could I appeal this decision base on that the program include more childcare hours than study and that I dont think I have developed any skills that I can apply in my home country but taking care of kids.

    please if you can share with my an advise or experience or whatever that helps me. I am desperate!

    my regards,

    SIMD Feb 8, 2015
  • alexandra
    Feb 9, 2015

    Hello Tanya

    I was an au pair in the USA and so I had a J1 visa. On my visa and my DS2019 it says that the two-year-rule does not apply. Good news for me. But there’s a part I’m not sure I understand. If I’m not subject to the rule, do I need a waiver anyway? Or can I just apply for another visa and get it without a waiver?
    Thanks for this post, it answered a lot of questions I had.


    alexandra Feb 9, 2015
  • Nicole
    Feb 16, 2015

    Just wanted to say thank you so much, this is INCREDIBLY helpful. I’m applying for a k1 fine visa, after having a j1, and had no idea about this rule. Now I can go check my forms (through eyes half shut) and I’ll know exactly what I’m looking for. Thank goodness for the internet. Thank you again!

    Nicole Feb 16, 2015
  • Iria
    Feb 17, 2015

    Hi Tanya,

    Your post is very informative. I came to the US with a Fulbright program and guess what? I do not want to go home now because I have better opportunities here. In my case Fulbright only funded 180 USD! The remainder ~400 K came from other agencies. I was hoping that due to the minimal amount of funding that the Department of State provided, obtaining a waiver would be more feasible.
    In any case, I wanted to ask if you could recommend a J-1 waiver attorney, that could give me advice as you received (i.e. confirm that I am a lost case!).



    Iria Feb 17, 2015
  • James
    Feb 25, 2015

    Hi Tanya,
    This is a great blog pregnant with information pertinent to US immigration and student visa procedures. Hats off to you for helping people..!!!
    I have a few questions~
    Let me give my visa backdrop here first. I have been a PhD student on J1 visa since 2010. My visa has expired a few months ago and I am still in US because of my continued student status in DS2019 and will probably graduate in December 2015. By the way, I am in dissertation phase and my DS 2019 is valid till mid-December 2015.
    According to my J1 Visa, which has expired five months ago, I am NOT subject to 2-yr rule.
    Well, I am planning a trip to India in the last week of October 2015 and come back in the first week of November and probably graduate in December.
    Now my question is, when I go to US embassy in India to obtain J1 visa stamping before returning,
    1) Will Embassy give me a visa or not because I have only one month left in DS 2019 for my program to complete?
    2) If I get J1 Visa again, will it be like the previous visa “with NO 2- Yr rule” or Do you think they will stamp “with 2-yr rule” with it unlike the previous one? (I don’t fall into categories of government funding or skills).
    3) Do you think, in order to avoid hassles, I should go to Canada and get visa a few months before flying out to India in October? Will Canada Embassy issue/renew J1 visa or Do you think it is not a good idea?
    Thanks again,

    James Feb 25, 2015
  • Laura
    Mar 2, 2015

    Dear Tanya,

    Thank you very much for all the information you shared. It is very useful and instructional. I’ve learned so much more from your information than from everything I heard of from the lawyers! (Not that I am undermining their jobs… simply that it is difficult to understand if you are not experiencing the same… right?)

    I’d very much appreciate your advice on the following:

    I came as an FLTA in 2011 (9 months) with government funding. I returned to my home country for three months, and came back to The US on an F1 visa to work on my Master’s. At the moment, I am about to complete my OPT, and to start a PhD (upcoming fall, 2015).
    I am about to get married to a Colombian resident, who is also completing his OPT (not subject to 212e), and the company where he is working at is willing to do an H1B for him.

    Given the limitations I have with 212e, I was thinking of applying to a waiver because:

    1) my husband-to-be just got his job, and is working with a government-related company doing research for the Department of Defense. Chances are he is not going to get a job in his field in my home country, and quitting his position right now will be very detrimental to his professional training and career,
    2) After being here for so long, chances are I don’t get a job either -at least, not that easily- because of the economy issues back home, and also because I would need to wait in line for a position to become available -in the educational field, back there, you are called on duty, instead of having the chance of getting hired right away in case of a vacancy.

    At the moment, the company I am working for offered me H1B. Because I was afraid I was not going to get my H1B approved, and in case of an emergency needing me to return back home, I decided to go for the PhD (thinking I will be able to be paying the two years in “installments” if I go back in between breaks)

    Given the fact that my husband-to-be is not an American citizen, I guess I am not going to be able to apply for the “hardship” waiver. At the same time, I heard that my embassy is not issuing “non-objection” letters. To make things even worse, as Fulbrighter, chances I get the waiver anyway are few to none.

    I guess I am just asking in light of any possible/potential idea I have not thought of that will help us through this process. It has been really hard on us, and, as you imagine, being apart for two years after just getting married is… heartbreaking, isn’t it?

    is there any alternative to the waiver you would recommend? or, is there any waiver or idea as for which and how to write my statement that will contribute to a favorable response?

    Thank you so much for everything!


    Laura Mar 2, 2015
  • Jade
    Mar 18, 2015

    Hi Tanya
    Do you know how earlier I can start the J1 visa waiver process? (I’ll file no obligation) I found somewhere on the internet that says, “it depends on your home country”. My home country is south Korea. I actually did not get J1 yet. I was trying to get H1 but ended up J1 since the school did not have time for H1. So, after I got J1, I plan to apply to H1. It means..I have to waive J1 visa first to apply H1. Could you give advice how early I can start the wavier process? Thank you so much! Jade

    Jade Mar 18, 2015
  • Tom
    Mar 19, 2015

    Hi Tanya!
    First of all, thank you for your time.

    I am an European student who is going to apply for a PhD program in the United States. I am only applying to programs with full funding (provided by American private universities), which means tuition exemption, living stipend and health insurance. Now, here’s my situation:

    – I applied to a Fulbright Scholarship because I think it can increase my chances of getting in. I will have an answer in June. If I become a fulbright scholar I will receive a J-1 visa which means that after 5 years of living, researching and working in the US, I will have to come back to my home country for 2 years.

    – If I don’t earn the fulbright or in case I do but I want to refuse it, I can apply by my own to those fully funded PhD programs. I believe this way I would apply to an F-1 visa which is much better than the J-1 because one is not subject to the 2-year-rule. On the other hand, it is probably harder to be admitted into one of those PhD programs without the fulbright scholarship (…?).

    So, what would you say? I can tell by your post that you won’t advise me to pursue a J-1 visa..what do you think I should do?

    Thank you so much!!

    Tom Mar 19, 2015
  • Ana
    Mar 23, 2015

    Hi Tanya,

    You can obviously “feel the pain” of J-1 visas! I was on Fulbright scholarship (PhD program), applied for the waiver and got a non favorable recommendation even with the No Objection Letter from my country. Went back to Brazil with my two sons (they came back to the US later on F-1 visas) and American husband (who couldn’t find a job there and returned three months later), stayed for 4 months with no opportunity in my career and moved to Canada to work in an international organization – can this time here be counted for the 2 year home stay?

    Ana Mar 23, 2015
  • Ravi
    Mar 24, 2015

    Hello Tanya,
    I am on J2 subjected to 212e but my wife who is on J1 is not subjected. Can you pls tell me am I still subjected to 212 as I heard that j2 status totally depend on J1?

    Ravi Mar 24, 2015
  • Yacoub
    Apr 6, 2015

    Hi Tanya,

    Let me first of all express my admiration of your language. You seem to be a native speaker although it is implied in your article that you are not! Anyway,I really found your article to be very helpful and to the point. I have the same case; one day I was a Fulbrighter stayed in the USA, Missouri, from August 2012 to May 2013 and then transferred to F1 from August 2013 to July 2014. Now, I am outside the States but not in my home country and was wondering if visiting my home country two months every year would count towards this infamous 2-year rule? I also have a very weird question but I love if you could, at least, give me some insight about it. What if I issue a new passport, claiming that mine has been lost, that doesn’t have the visas of the countries I visited after departing the United States and simply say that I was in my home county for the past two years? So the reality is that I was not; I just have a new passport that doesn’t have the visas of the countries I have visited! Will this work in your opinion?

    Yacoub Apr 6, 2015
  • Suresh Paudel
    Apr 8, 2015

    Hi Tanya

    thank you for the informative blog. I have few questions for you.
    I am a research scholar on J1 RESEARCH visa with 2 year rule based on skill list. I am planning to apply for residency program in US hospitals for 2016. The programs sponsor either J1 clinical or H1B visa depending upon their policies. I am planning to apply for waiver of my current J1 RESEARCH visa so that it would be easier to get H1B visa next year if i matched to programs that sponsor H1B. I want to know what the statement of reason should reflect for the waiver request to get accepted (can I tell that I am applying for residency on H1B programs or something like that)?
    My next question is If I get matched into programs that accept only J1 CLINICAL visa and not h1b, will i face diffculty if i apply for j1 CLINICAL visa next year because I got waiver for my J1 RESEARCH visa?
    Lastly. lets assume if my waiver application is rejected, If i got matched into a J1 clinical program, will there be any problem in converting the current J1 research visa into clinical which normally is easily possible j1 research scholar matched into residency and need j1 clinical visa?

    Suresh Paudel Apr 8, 2015
  • Apr 12, 2015


    Its really very helpful blog on J1 visa 2 year home country rule. This is my story. I did my postdoc at University of Wisconsin from April 2010 to January 2013. After that I came back to India and stayed more than a year and then I moved to Singapore for another postdoc on May 2014. My J1 visa was subjected 2 year home country rule.My queries regarding 2 year rule
    > I should have to stay 2 years in India physically or outside of US any country also ok
    > I am planing to go USA again on or after June 2016 either J1 or H1B.
    > Still I will be eligible to get either J1 or H1B again?
    Please clarify my above queries.

    Thanks in Advance


    VENKAT Apr 12, 2015
  • Jaden
    Apr 16, 2015

    My wife came here under a J1 on 2008 and then I joined the military as part of the MAVNI program. I am getting my citizenship in the following months, but unfortunately this did not cover my wife. Because of that she has been already 1 year outside of the country and hopefully in 1 year she will be joining me.
    I would like to ask you about the consular process to “show” or demonstrate that you satisfied the 2 years in your home country. She has been working and has payment slips.
    Any thoughts?
    also any recommendations or experiences for the IR1 visa – green card application overseas (consular application)

    Jaden Apr 16, 2015
  • Luis
    Apr 17, 2015

    Hello Tanya, I have a question for you. I’m under J1 Research Scholar Visa, and my wife is getting a J1 visa for the next 5 years. My question is: Can I change from my J1 visa to be in her J2 dependent? My visa says “two year rule apply” But I have a lot of friends who have been doing research in the same university but theirs visa does not say 2 year rules apply.

    Thank you very much

    Luis Apr 17, 2015
  • Pandrate
    Apr 18, 2015

    I am UK national (British citizen),and planning to go on j1 visa.
    Would I be subjected to 2 year home residency ?

    I will appreciate your reply.


    Pandrate Apr 18, 2015
  • akif
    Apr 25, 2015

    Hi Tanya,

    I am a PhD student in Turkey and I am planning to do a 1-year research in the USA. My research will be funded by the Turkish government which means that I will get a J1 visa with ‘2 year rule does apply’. This means that I won’t be able to get an H1 visa if I find a Post-Doc position the year after. However my wife is a PhD student (with a F1 visa) in the USA. Will I be able to get a dependent visa even though ‘2 year rule does apply’? Will I be able to work as a Post-Doc with a dependent visa?

    best regards

    akif Apr 25, 2015
  • Noor
    Apr 30, 2015

    Hello Tanya,
    Thank you for your all information. I am currently doing an one year certification program with J1 visa, and I am here after my high school. My J1 visa will be expiring on June 24, 2015, and I have applied for the school again for the Fall 2015 that starts on September 22, 2015. I will be eligible to get a student visa, I know that, but the thing bugs me is 2 years home residency. After completing my education from the US, will I be able to change my status to H1B? Well, during the program time, I have created strong network with the CEOs of the companies, and I will have the job offer after my bachelor’s. Will I be able to change my status then? And also can it be a valid reason to apply for the waive my 2 years home residency?
    I am with also that Subject thing.

    Noor Apr 30, 2015
  • Natenapa
    May 1, 2015

    Thank you for your information. It’s helpful for me. I just wanna ask some questions about my waiver J1.

    I’m in type of The Exchange Visitor Skills List rules and I’m in Thailand now.
    So I wanna know where do I have to mail the documents to? I heard that USCIS and Thai embassy in D.C. and I’m not sure where else? or some place in Thailand too?

    Thank you so much for your time. I look forward to hearing from you soon.



    Natenapa May 1, 2015
  • Anastasia
    May 6, 2015

    Hi Tanya,
    I know it’s been a year since this discussion was over, but i hope i’ll get in touch with you. My Master’s program Fulbright Funding was over several years ago, since then i switched to a PhD program in the same university, but stayed in J1 status (i’ve been told it doesn’t make a difference, if it’s J1 or F1). I was wondering, if going back to my home country for 2 years during my PhD program (a part of my research may be conducted there) will count toward compliance with the 2-year rule? I would really want to have more options after I graduate…
    Thank you!

    Anastasia May 6, 2015
  • Kidus
    May 17, 2015

    Hi, first of all I would like to thank you for your information. I was an intern at Boeing company sponsored by a company called cultural vista. I t has been almost 8 months after in returned home and I will finish my two year rule on October 2016. But I got selected for the 2016 dv lottery which i am so excited about. so my question is, is there any chance that i can get a waiver since i will almost complete my two year rule until the process of the dv finished. The other question is is there any problem if i just write in the section of the application for the waiver that asked for my reason filing for waiver that I won the DV and am also almost gonna complete the two year rule on October 2016.

    Kidus May 17, 2015
  • Mel
    May 17, 2015

    This is a wonderful thread for someone like me stuck with the 2-year J1 requirement.

    Quick question: If I travelled to the US (or any other country) while serving the 2 year requirement, does a partial day in Canada (by home country) count as a full day? For example if I flew out at 8 am for the US or if I returned home at 8pm from the US, would those count as a day towards my requirement? I’m travelling to the US about once a month to visit my boyfriend and that might make a huge difference in the end for the 2-year requirement…



    Mel May 17, 2015

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