Maintaining J-1 Status

J-1 Scholar: 12- & 24-Month Bars

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program was founded primarily to foster exchange between United States citizens and countries around the globe.  Its creation was not intended to be used for employment purposes. Barriers or “Bars" to repeat participation exist within the regulations of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program in order to support/preserve the spirit of the program. 

These bars can be confusing and should not be mistaken for the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement,  which prevents exchange visitors from changing their status in the U.S., applying for an H-1B or L employment visa, or adjusting their status to legal permanent resident before it has been fulfilled or waived.    

Additional information about the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program and the 12- and 24-month bars can be found on the Department of State's website .  If you have additional questions about these bars, please contact J-1 Scholar Advising.  

The chart below describes the bars that would be imposed on you if you were in one of the listed categories for the duration listed and intending to become a J-1 Research Scholar/Professor.  

Previous Category 6 months or less More than 6 months
J-1 Student Non-Degree  No bar 12 months
J-1 Student  No bar 12 months
J-1 Research Scholar/Professor  24 months 24 months
J-1 Short-Term Scholar  No bar N/A
J-1 Specialist  No bar 12 months
J-2 Dependent of Research Scholar/Professor Category  24 months 24 months
J-2 Dependent of any other J-1 category except Short-Term Scholar No bar 12 months

Example 1  

John was a J-1 Research Scholar from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2006 (more than six months).  John intends to return to the United States as a J-1 Specialist.  Based on the chart above, John was eligible to return as a J-1 Specialist as early as January 1, 2008.   

Example 2  

Maria has been a J-1 Professor since May 1, 2016. Her program will end on April 30, 2018. She has been invited back as a J-1 Research Scholar starting July 1, 2018.  Unfortunately, Maria will not be able to participate in this activity in the J-1 Professor category because the 24-month bar would apply to her until May 1, 2020.