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Washington State University
International On Campus

2-Year Requirement

At the end of your J-1 program, you are required to return to your home country and maintain a physical presence there for at least 2 years. This is known as the foreign residence requirement under U.S. law, Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212(e).

Only after 2 years in your home country are you eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or change to another non-immigrant status within the United States.

Does This Requirement Apply to You?

If you are subject to the 212(e) requirement, you can find a notation on your DS-2019 and J visa page.

This requirement likely applies to you if:

  • Your exchange program was financed in full or in part by the U.S. government or your home country government
  • A skill identified by your home country government appears in the Exchange Visitor Skills List
  • Your purpose in coming to the United States was to receive graduate medical education or training

Contact an International Student and Scholar Services advisor

Waiving the 2-Year Requirement

If you seek to change your visa status to H, L, or permanent residency in the United States, you can apply for a waiver for the 2-year requirement for yourself and your dependents.

Eligibility for a Waiver

You may be eligible for a waiver under any 1 of these conditions:

  • A claim of exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or child of an exchange visitor if you are required to return to the country of residence
  • A claim that you will be persecuted due to race, religion, or political opinions if you return to the country of residence
  • A request from an interested U.S. government agency on your behalf
  • A No Objection Statement from your government
  • A request by a designated State Health Department or its equivalent


How to Request a Waiver

Apply with the U.S. Department of State to receive a recommendation for a waiver.