When should a J1 / J2 perform a DOS Advisory Opinion?


This Post could have many different titles, refer to many common terminologies, and pose many different / related questions. We need to first try to encompass all of these items before addressing the main topic of the “Advisory Opinion.”

A J1 can also be called an Exchange Visitor, or be linked to a common field associated to the J Visa:

  1. J1 Teacher
  2. J1 Professor
  3. J1 Instructor
  4. J1 Specialist
  5. J1 Researcher
  6. J1 Physician
  7. J1 Intern
  8. J1 Trainee
  9. J1 Au Pair (aka nanny)
  10. J1 Summer Camp Counselor
  11. J1 High School Student
  12. J1 University Student (Undergraduate, Graduate, and Professional / Doctoral)

The J1 Visa Restriction can also be termed:

  • Subject to Special Skills List 212(e)
  • 2-year Home Residency Requirement
  • J1 Home Country Presence Requirement

The common related questions could be:

  • Am I subject to the Special Skills List if my DS-2019 is blank in that area?
  • My Visa says I am NOT SUBJECT, but my DS-2019 says I am SUBJECT?
  • Prior DS2019 states I am SUBJECT, but my current DS2019 is blank?
  • Both the DS2019 and Visa say NOT SUBJECT, but I have a J1 friend in the same program, and their’s say SUBJECT?
  • Is a J-2 also subject to the 212(e) of a J-1?
  • My J1 spouse or parent received a waiver, did I also receive a Waiver as a J2?

What is an Advisory Opinion?

An Advisory Opinion is a clear statement on whether someone is or is not subject to the J1 Restriction. If an Advisory Opinion states NOT SUBJECT, and the DS-2019 or Visa states SUBJECT, the Advisory Opinion is ALWAYS Correct.

What determines whether someone is SUBJECT to the J1 212(e) Specials Skills List?

Two factors determine whether someone is SUBJECT: (1) Country and (2) Field and Knowledge.

What Countries are subject to the J1 Restriction?

The Following Countries are Subject:

  1. Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia
  2. Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burma
  3. Cabo Verde (formerly Cape Verde), Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica
  4. Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic
  5. Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia
  6. Fiji
  7. Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana
  8. Haiti, Honduras
  9. India, Indonesia
  10. Jamaica
  11. Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo
  12. Laos, Lebanon, Liberia
  13. Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Montenegro, Mozambique
  14. Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria
  15. Oman
  16. Palestinian Authority (Gaza and West Bank), Paraguay, Peru, Philippines
  17. Romania, Rwanda
  18. Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Swaziland
  19. Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, The Gambia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey
  20. United Arab Emirates, Uruguay
  21. Venezuela
  22. Yemen
  23. Zambia

Source: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/skill-list-by-country.html

What Skills and Fields are subject to the J1 Restriction?

The Skills List is a 25-page document with many categories/fields/subjects. Search for your field of knowledge/skill, not to be confused with your Subject/Field Code number. The Number is “Specific” and you need to broadly view the entire field. Example, if you are a 5th grade math teacher, you are generally subject because:

13.12 Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Levels and Methods (including all types of levels and types of teaching including, but not limited to Adult and Continuing Education; Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle School and Secondary Education; Montessori Teacher Education; and Waldorf/Steiner Teacher Education)

13.13 Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Subject Areas (including, but not limited to Agriculture; Art; Business; Computers; Drama; Driver Safety; English, Foreign Languages; Geography; Health; History; Home Economics; Industrial Arts; Sales and Marketing; Math; Music; Physical Education; Psychology; Reading; Science; Social Studies; and Speech)

If your field of knowledge/skill is not listed, find the broader, more general subject group that it falls under. Every field of knowledge/skill is listed on the Master Skills List or is part of a broader, more general subject group.

Source: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2009/04/30/E9-9657/2009-revised-exchange-visitor-skills-list

What if I am confused on whether I am really SUBJECT or there is an inconsistency in my DS2019 or Visa?

Then an Advisory Opinion may be beneficial.

Why should I even care whether I am subject or not subject to the J1 Restriction?

The J1 Restriction can affect what you do next. The Restriction can prevent:

  1. Receiving other US Visas
  2. Marriage-based Green Card filings
  3. Parent-Child Green Card filings
  4. Attending College immediately after the J1 Program
  5. Employment on another Visa immediately after the J1 Program

The J1 Restriction means you have to return to your home country for a minimum of 2 years. That restricts:

  1. further foreign travel
  2. studying abroad
  3. employment abroad
  4. immigration to the US

If you are not able to return or remain in the home country for the 2 year residency period, many then need to persue are possibly timely or expensive J1 Waiver process. The Advisory Opinion would determine if a waiver would be required. It may be economical to know if a 1 year long waiver is needed, or if you need to pay for the DS-3035 Waiver Filing Fee, or if you need to pay for the I-612 / $930 Waiver Filing Fee.

Thus, seeking an Advisory Opinion may be beneficial to get the answers / final determination needed on the very important topic:

Am I SUBJECT or NOT SUBJECT to the J1 212(e) Specials Skills List.






Disclaimer: This Blog is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.