Imagility News

USCIS has shared new rules about the 2-year foreign stay needed for J Nonimmigrant Classification.

USCIS Issues New Policy Guidelines on 2-Year Foreign Residence Requirement for J Nonimmigrant Classification

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released updated policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual, addressing the 2-year foreign residence requirement for nonimmigrant exchange visitors (J) classification. The guidance, effective immediately upon publication, provides clarity on how USCIS determines compliance with the requirement, the evidence required for benefit requestors, and considerations for situations where meeting the requirement is practically impossible.

This update also corrects an omission in the existing Policy Manual related to foreign medical graduates’ grounds for waivers of the foreign residence requirement. The added information outlines the grounds and clarifies employment requirements.

The J-1 nonimmigrant classification is designed for exchange visitors participating in approved programs in the U.S. for purposes such as teaching, studying, conducting research, or receiving training. The 2-year foreign residence requirement stipulates that certain J-1 exchange visitors must reside in their home country or last legal residence for at least 2 years before applying for an immigrant visa or certain nonimmigrant visas.

Key highlights of the policy guidance include USCIS using the preponderance of evidence standard to determine compliance with the 2-year foreign residence requirement in subsequent applications or petitions. It also emphasizes that a travel day spent in the country of nationality or last residence counts towards satisfying the requirement. In cases where meeting the requirement is practically impossible, USCIS will assess them on a case-by-case basis, consulting with the Department of State.

The update is effective for benefit requests filed on or after October 24, 2023. The changes are detailed in Volume 2 of the Policy Manual, impacting sections related to Exchange Visitors (J) classification, including Terms and Conditions, Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement, and Family Members of J-1 Exchange Visitor.

Source: USCIS