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Exchange visitor (J-1) visa
Two-year rule

Exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents may be subject to Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, commonly referred to as the two-year rule, two-year home residency requirement, or 212(e). Exchange visitors subject to the rule must fulfill the physical presence requirements (physically present in their home country for an aggregate of two years or obtain a waiver) before becoming eligible for H visas, changes of status applications, or adjustments to US permanent resident status.

Part 1 Subjectivity
Part 2 Fulfillment (how to satisfy)
Part 3 Evidence (how to find out)
Part 4 Advisory opinions
Part 5 Waiver
Part 6 Important remarks

Before they fulfill the two-year rule requirement, they may return to the US with a new visa (other than H, K, L, and immigrant/permanent residence visas). This means that they can rejoin the exchange program or be admitted as an F-1/M-1 student before fulfilling the requirements.
Related topicsExchange Visitor Skills List - 2009ECFMGWaiver of 212(e)