This week a member of Seannad Eireann, referred a case to me involving the holder of a J1 visa who is subject to a two-year foreign residency requirement after completion of her training program in the USA.

The so-called two-year rule applies to certain categories of J1 visa holders, requiring the trainee affected to return home at the end of their stay in the US for two years before being eligible to apply for a change in visa status or reentry to the US in H, L or permanent resident (green card) status. This rule often called the 212(e) rule after the relevant section of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, applies to J1 exchange visitors who:

(a) have received either US or home government funding to participate in the exchange activity for example Fulbright scholars;

(b) have pursued graduate medical training or

(c) have pursued training or education in a field of interest to their home government in such field's included on the "skills list" for that country.

Under 212 (e) adjustment of status is not allowed to those who have not been physically present in their home country for two years unless the Attorney General waives the two year residence requirement. One aspect of such waivers is whether or not the foreign country of the alien's nationality or last residence has furnished evidence in writing that it has no objection to such a waiver being granted.

In my experience most J1 students from Ireland are not affected by 212(e). If visa holders are unsure of the above criterion for 212(e), you should be able to determine if you are subject to 212(e) by examining the visa stamp in your passport. It may state the 2-year home rule does or does not apply. You might also see a similar remark on the literature and receipts you received when you obtained the J1 visa.

A waiver of the two year rule may be obtained in cases where: A hardship can be demonstrated to a US citizen or permanent resident spouse, parent, or child of the status holder.

· A real fear of persecution on account of nationality, race, religion political opinion, or membership of a particular social group in the immigrant’s home country.

· The recipient’s home country does not object to the grant of a waiver.

Early application for a waiver is strongly advised as the process can take several months to complete. We strongly advise people who are applying for a waiver to retain an immigration attorney experienced in the area of these particular cases.

Legal Clinic update:

We had a good turnout at our June Legal Clinic. Thanks to attorneys Dan Harrington and Chris Lavery who donated time at the clinic.

Our next legal clinic will be on July 2nd 2013 at 6:30 PM in the Banshee, 934 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester.

Meantime, readers are invited to email me any queries.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information contained in it is provided to inform generally, and is not intended as a substitute for individual advice. Immigration law is subject to frequent changes and individual circumstances can affect the application of certain legal provisions. For individual legal advice, please contact the Irish Pastoral Centre directly regarding upcoming legal clinics or consultation with an immigration attorney.

See more at: