The “Other” Two Year Rule

If the Two-Year home-country physical presence requirement wasn’t complicated enough for you there is actually another, lesser known, two-year rule.

Fortunately, this rule applies only to a small number of J-1 participants. This rule deals primarily with J-1 Interns and J-1 Trainees.

There are three main parts to this rule that are outlined below. For the full text, you can read them in the regulations here. (Tip: Scroll down to the end of the Trainee and Intern regulations to the final three paragraphs)

Part One – Who this rule applies to:

  • J-1 Interns and J-1 Trainee participants

Part Two – How this rule can be applied to you:

  • J-1 Interns who wish to come back to the US but no longer meet the criteria for an Internship program, and wish to apply for a J-1 Trainee visa
  • J-1 Trainee participants who wish to come back to the US on another J-1 Trainee visa

 Part Three – What this rule means:

  • You have to wait two years outside of the US before applying for a J-1 Trainee program, if you have previously complete a J-1 Internship program and no longer qualify for another Internship.
  • If you completed a J-1 Trainee program, and wish to come back on another J-1 Trainee program you also have to wait two years outside of the US.

There are a few notable differences between this rule and Section 212(e) which is discussed on another page.

  • This rule only applies to two specific categories of the J-1 visa.
  • You can not apply for a waiver for this rule.
  • Unlike Section 212(e), this rule only requires that you be outside of the US for two years. You do NOT have to spend those two years in your country of nationality or permanent legal residence.