USCIS: Foreign Residence Requirement NOT applicable to J-2 Spouses of J-1 MAVNI Enlistees
This past Thursday, USCIS clarified the applicability of INA § 212(e) [the two year foreign residence requirement] to J-2 spouses of J-1s who naturalized under the MAVNI program.
The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program allows eligible individuals, including doctors, dentists, nurses and other medical professionals, to acquire expedited citizenship by enlisting in the U.S. Army. This program bypasses the entire green card process, and thus, eligible J-1 physicians who enroll in this program are not required to comply with 212(e).
USCIS had previously been inconsistent in determining whether the J-2 spouse would still have to comply with or waive 212(e). Thankfully, USCIS has issued guidance confirming that since a J-1 subject to 212(e) who enlists under MAVNI is neither required to comply with the foreign residence requirement nor obtain a waiver in order to naturalize, the J-2 derivative (spouse or child) is likewise not required to comply with or waive the foreign residence requirement in order to adjust status to permanent residence.