What is the Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement?
Certain J-1 visa holders are subject to this requirement, which is also known as the “two year rule.” If the rule applies, the J-1 visa holder must return to his or her home country after completing the exchange visitor program in the United States. Sometimes the J-1 visa holder cannot, for whatever reason, return to his or her home country to fulfill the requirement. In such cases, the J-1 visa holder must apply for a waiver of the foreign residency requirement. Application for a waiver may be made to the U.S. Department of State, Waiver Review Division for a recommendation that USCIS grant a waiver under any one of the five available bases.
Who is subject to the two year rule?
To determine if you are subject to the two year rule you should look at your J visa. If the box next to the phrase “subject to the two-year rule” is checked, then you are subject to the rule. If this box is not checked, you still may be subject to the rule, so examine your most recent IAP-66. If this form indicates that you are subject to the rule, then you are. If you are confused about whether you are subject to the two year rule, consult with one of our experienced immigration lawyers in Seattle.
How can I find out if I am required to fulfill the two year foreign residency requirement?
If a J-1 visa holder is unsure whether s/he has to fulfill the two year foreign residency requirement, they can request an advisory opinion from the State Department’s Waiver Review Division.
What is an advisory opinion and how do I request one?
An advisory opinion is a statement issued by the Waiver Review Division stating whether or not a J-1 visa holder is required to fulfill the two year foreign residency requirement. To request one, submit a written request to the State Department at the address below, along with (1) legible copies of every/all Form DS-2019/IAP-66 ever issued to you; and (2) a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
To what address do I send the advisory opinion?
U.S. Department of State
CA/VO/L/W, Visa Services
2401 E Street, NW, (SA-1)
Washington, DC 20522-0106
How long does it take for an advisory opinion to be issued?
The State Department reports that it will take between 4 and 6 weeks.
Can someone request an advisory opinion on my behalf?
Yes; your attorney may do so. The supervisor of your exchange visitor program may also do so.
May I change from J-1 status to another non-immigrant visa outside the U.S. if I am subject to the two-year residency requirement?
Yes; you may obtain a nonimmigrant visa (O, E or F visa) from a U. S. Consulate located in a foreign country. But you may not obtain an H or L visa until you have (1) received either a J-1 Waiver or (2) completed the two-year foreign residency requirement.
How can I get more information regarding the J-1 two year rule?
Contact us by telephone at (206) 535-2900 or by email: email@example.com.