J-1 exchange visitors or J-2 dependents who have previously spent time in the U.S. in J-1 status may be ineligible to return in the J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category under the 12- and 24-month bars on repeat participation. The bars do not affect eligibility for other J-1 categories, such as Short-Term Scholar, Specialist, or Student Intern.

24-month Bar

If an exchange visitor in either the Research Scholar or Professor categories completes their program, regardless of that program’s duration, they are ineligible to return on a J-1 visa in one of these categories for 24 months. Transferring to another institution to continue their exchange activity does not trigger the 24-month bar. The 24-month bar only applies to participation in the Research Scholar and Professor categories. Note that the 24-month bar is not the same as the two-year home country physical presence requirement.

12-month Bar

The 12-month bar prohibits exchange visitors from beginning a new program in the Research Scholar or Professor categories if they were in the U.S. for more than 6 months in any J status (including J-2 dependent) during all or part of the 12 months immediately preceding the start date of the new program.

There are 4 exceptions:

  • J-1 transfers: The 12-month bar does not apply to those transferring to another institution to continue their current J-1 program.
  • J status of less than 6 months: A person whose prior J status was less than 6 months (physical presence in the U.S.) is exempt from the 12-month bar.
  • J status in the Short-Term Scholar category: Time spent in this category does not trigger the 12-month bar.
  • Exchange visitors subject to the 24-month bar: Individuals subject to the 24-month bar are not additionally subject to the 12-month bar.