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DIS Title Divider Visiting Scientists Title Divider 212(e) Requirement
Visiting Program Scientists​​
212(e) Two-Year Home Residence Requirement​

Many J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to the 212(e) two-year home residence requirement, which requires them to return to their country of last legal permanent residence for two years at the end of their J-1 program. This requirement is commonly referred to as "212(e)." It is intended to ensure that J-1 Exchange Visitors fulfill the exchange nature of the J-1 program and share knowledge gained in the U.S. with colleagues in their home country.

Who is Subject to 212(e)?


As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, you are subject to 212(e) if you:

  1. Receive direct or indirect funding from either your home country government or the U.S. government. All J-1 Exchange Visitors sponsored by NIH are subject to 212(e) on this basis. Even if you are not directly funded by the NIH (i.e., you receive funding from an outside source), indirect government funds are still used to support your stay at the NIH.

  2. Possess a skill that is in short supply in the home country, per the Exchange Visitor Skills List.

  3. Participate in a graduate medical education or training program sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

If you are subject to 212(e), your J-2 dependents are also subject.

Marriage to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, or birth of a child in the United States does not remove the 212(e) requirement.

Immigration Options when Subject to 212(e) 


Until the 212(e) requirement is fulfilled or waived, the J-1 Exchange Visitor is subject to specific restrictions.


  • Change to another immigration status while inside the U.S., except when changing to an A (diplomatic) or G (international organization) status.

  • Obtain an H, K, L, or immigrant visa.


  • Extend or transfer your current J-1 status.

  • Return to the U.S. under a new J-1 program. Certain restrictions apply, such as the 24 month bar on repeat participation.

  • Return to the U.S. for tourism (B-2/WT) or business purposes (B-1/WB).

  • Return to the U.S. to pursue a course of study (e.g. F-1 Student), work in certain employment statuses (e.g. O-1 Alien of Extraordinary Ability), or in another visa classification not prohibited.

  • Change status within the U.S. to A (diplomatic) or G (international organization) status.

How to Fulfill the 212(e) Requirement


You will fulfill the requirement once you:

  1. Return to your country of last legal permanent residence (as indicated in box 1 on the Form DS-2019) for an aggregate period of two years.


  2. Obtain a J-1 Waiver

  3. Expand

    A waiver is an immigration benefit granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It removes the 212(e) requirement.

    There are five different pathways to request a waiver. Determine your basis and submit your waiver application directly with the DOS Waiver Review Division.

    J-2 Dependents: In most circumstances, J-2 dependents are a part of the J-1 Exchange Visitor's waiver application and will benefit from a J-1's approved waiver. However, J-2 dependents may independently apply for a waiver in the event of the death or divorce by the primary J-1, if the J-2 child turns 21, or if the J-2 dependent previously held J-1 status and was subject to 212(e) but never satisfied the requirement.

    Common Pathway:
    No-Objection Statement (NOS) Waiver


    A No-Objection Statement (NOS) waiver is a common basis for Exchange Visitors to apply for a waiver. This pathway requires a no-objection statement from the government of your last country of legal permanent residence. Contact the embassy for additional information on how to obtain the statement, since the process varies by country in timeline and required documentation.

    Review the DOS website for information on alternate bases for a waiver application.

    DOS Waiver Processing Times


    General processing times are available from the DOS Waiver Review Division. Processing times begin once DOS receives all required application documents.

    For NOS waivers, the timeframes do not include the time it takes your embassy to process a No-Objection Statement, NIH's issuance of sponsor views, or USCIS' final approval of the waiver.

    If you have questions on the process or wish to confirm receipt of documentation by DOS, check the DOS online case status system or email Due to application routing procedures, case status updates on the DOS website may be lengthy.

    When to Apply


    You may apply for a waiver when you meet the eligibility requirements described in the DOS Waiver Review Division and, as applicable to all J-1s sponsored by the NIH, NIH's NOS Waiver Policy.

    A pending or approved waiver application may affect your J-1 program. Specifically, once DIS sends sponsor views to DOS, you are ineligible for a J-1 extension or transfer. You may also have difficulty in applying for any further J visas abroad and/or being re-admitted to the United States in J status.

    Sponsor Views from NIH


    DOS will ask DIS/NIH to comment on waiver applications received for individuals whose J-1 status was sponsored or funded by the NIH. This is known as a "request for sponsor views", which can be favorable or unfavorable.

    Review NIH's NOS Waiver Policy to learn the details of the process. You can check the status of DIS/NIH sponsor views via our NOS Waiver Sponsor Views tracker. Refer to our flow chart for an outline of the entire NOS Waiver process.

    NIH's NOS Waiver Policy only applies to J-1 Exchange Visitors whose program was sponsored by NIH. All other requests from DOS will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

    DOS Recommendation and USCIS Approval


    After a review of your completed waiver application, DOS will send a favorable or unfavorable recommendation letter to USCIS. Upon final approval, USCIS will send the waiver applicant a Form I-797 Notice of Action.

    Diversity Lottery


    If you are a confirmed finalist in the Diversity Visa Lottery, you do not need to meet NIH's NOS Waiver Policy requirements to receive favorable sponsor views from NIH for your NOS waiver application.

    NIH will provide sponsor views directly in response to DOS's request. Lottery winners must provide a copy of the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery notice of registration from the Kentucky Consular Center to DIS before sponsor views are issued.

Revised 01/2021

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