Two-Year Home Residency Requirement (212e) and 12/24 Month Bars for J Visa Holders

The J visa carries several bars and requirements that J visa holders and their departments should be aware of. Please note that the 12- and 24- month bars only apply to those who will use or enter the U.S. in certain J visa categories.

The 12- and 24-Month Repeat Participation Bars for J visas

The 12- and 24-month repeat participation bars can affect J-1 Exchange Visitors and their dependents who have been in the U.S. on a J visa previously and wish to return to the U.S. using a new J-1 Research Scholar or Professor visa. The bars prohibit “repeat participation” in the Research Scholar or Professor categories only. Depending on what the individual’s previous J category was, the individual may be subject to a 12-month bar, a 24-month bar, or no bar at all. The 12- and 24-month bars are different from the two-year home country residency requirement (212e). In general, if a scholar has held J status in any category for more than 6 months, they will be subject to one of the repeat participation bars. There is no waiver or exemption process from the 12- or 24-Month Bar.

The following chart shows how long the scholar would have to wait (the 12- or 24-month bar) before they could obtain a new J-1 Research Scholar or Professor visa; this depends on the prior J-1 category and program dates. If the scholar has never had J-1 visa sponsorship, then the bars do not apply to them.

Department administrators must contact the HIO for specific information as to how the repeat participation bar will impact a scholar returning to the University. The HIO will evaluate the scholar’s previous J-1 status and program end date to assist departments in determining an appropriate new J-1 program start date for the scholar. Please also note that the HIO will require copies of previous DS-2019s and/or confirmation of previous J-1 program end dates to be uploaded into ISD if the scholar was previously sponsored by a J-1 program other than Harvard’s.

Previous J Status Length of Time in J Status Repetition Bar for New J-1 Research Scholar/Professor Visa
J-1 Student Less than 6 Months No Bar
J-1 Student More than 6 Months 12-Month Bar
J-1 Student Intern Less than 6 Months No Bar
J-1 Student Intern More than 6 Months 12-Month Bar
J-1 Short Term Scholar Less than 6 Months No Bar
J-1 Research Scholar/Professor Any amount of time 24-Month Bar

*Please note, J-2 Dependents become subject to the same 12- or 24-month bar as the primary J-1.

Two Year Home Residency Requirement (212e) 

Some J visa holders are subject to what is called the two-year home residency requirement (212e).  

J visa holders may be subject to the two-year home residency requirement under the following conditions: 

  • Funding: The scholar has received any funding (including nominal travel grants) from their home government, the U.S. government, or if they are named as a PI in a U.S. government grant or U.S. government funded fellowship specifically designed for exchange, such as Fulbright. 

  • Skills List: Trained personnel in the scholar’s field are identified by their home government as being in short supply and their field has consequently been included on the U.S. government's Exchange Visitor's Skills List.

  • Graduate Medical Training: J status is sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). 

What is prohibited when subject to 212e: 

At the conclusion of a J-1 program, the Exchange Visitor who is subject to this requirement must reside for an aggregate of two years in their country of nationality or last legal permanent residence or have the requirement waived before being eligible to apply for H, L, K, or U.S. legal permanent resident visa status.  Scholars subject to the 212(e) home residence requirement are not permitted to change their status to ANY other immigration status from within the U.S. 

What is permitted when subject to 212e: 

Scholars may be permitted to depart and return to the U.S. in other nonimmigrant classifications, such as F-1 student, B-1/ B-2 visitor, O-1 or TN prior to fulfilling or waiving 212(e); may also return in another J-1 classification, if no bar applies. 

Waivers of Two-Year Home Residency Requirement 

Any Harvard affiliated J-1 Exchange Visitor considering applying for a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement must first have a meeting with their HIO advisor before beginning the application process. Applying for a waiver will impact their ability to extend or amend their current J-1 visa status. Please also note that many waiver applications are taking more than a year to be approved. If departments are aware of a J-1 Exchange Visitor applying for the waiver, please ask them to contact their HIO advisor so everyone can plan accordingly.