J-1 Tip: Avoid 2-year home residence requirement if you’ve resided in more than one country
Did you ever notice that the Form DS-2019 asks for your last legal permanent residence? If you are a national whose country and skills are listed on the skills list, with a mandatory two-year home residence requirement, perhaps you spent a period of time in a country that is NOT on the skills list before applying for the J-1 visa and before entering the U.S. in J visa status. If that is the case, then you might be able to list that country instead of your country of origin on the Form DS-2019 next to the question about your last legal permanent residence.
For example, if you are Chinese but spent the last three years doing a post-doc in Canada where you lived in an apartment with your spouse, you may be able to state on the Form DS-2019 that your last legal permanent residence was Canada. Canada is not a skills list country. If Canada was your last legal permanent residence then you may be able to count Canada and not China for skills list purposes and effectively avoid the two-year home residence requirement. The rules on this are not clear and it is always worth considering whether or not you can make them work for you.