We work with many clients who are applying for a “fast-track” green card, that is applying as an alien of extraordinary ability, outstanding researcher or professor, or applying for the national interest waiver. Frequently, those clients are either currently on a J-1 visa and now want to apply for the green card, or they were on J-1 visa previously and have since changed status to H-1B or another visa category.
Those clients who have been on J-1 previously may have an additional hurdle to face, in addition to meeting the other requirements to obtaining permanent residence. This is because J-1 visa holders are sometimes subject to the two year home residence requirement. This means that they must return to their home country for a period of two years before they apply for permanent residence.
A J-1 visa holder can be subject to the two year home residence requirement (sometimes referred to as 212(e), referencing the relevant section of the law) either:
- Because he/she received government funding, or
- Because he/she is subject to the “skills list,” which is a list published by the US Department of State and organized by country, or
- If he/she came to the US to receive graduate medical education or training.
If you have ever been subject to the home residence requirement, you will need to either obtain a waiver, known as a 212(e) waiver, or you will need to obtain an Advisory Opinion from the US Department of State, stating that you are not subject to the requirement. Here are the basic steps you should take:
While these extra steps can take a little more time, it is worth it to avoid delays and possible denials in the permanent residence process. If you are interested in a strategy session to discuss your options, we would be happy to speak with you! You can set a time for a consultation here: https://meetme.so/emilysumner.