Time spent in the US as a J-1 Exchange Visitor or J-2 dependent might affect eligibility for future J-1 status in the “Research Scholar” or “Professor” categories. These periods of ineligibility are referred to as the 24-month and 12-month “bars.” The 24-month and 12-month bars apply only to persons beginning an Exchange Visitor program in the categories of “Research Scholar” or “Professor.” The bars do not affect eligibility for other J-1 categories, such as “Short-Term Scholar,”  “Specialist” or “Student Intern.”

24-month Bar

Exchange Visitors in either the “Research Scholar” or “Professor” categories (including J-2 dependents) are subject to a 24-month bar on repeat participation in those categories if they completed their program on or after November 17, 2006, regardless of the previous program’s duration. Transferring to another institution to continue the current J-1 program does not trigger the 24-month bar. Also, no time spent in any other J-1 category triggers the 24-month bar. Note that the 24-month bar is not the same as the  two-year home country physical presence requirement.

12-month Bar

Exchange Visitors not subject to the 24-month bar might be subject to the 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 six months in any J status (including J-2 dependent) during all or part of the twelve-month period immediately preceding the start date of the new program. If any part of an Exchange Visitor’s presence in the U.S. in J status was within the 12-month period, the entire duration of his or her presence in the U.S. while participating in an exchange visitor program is counted, and if that participation exceeded six months, the 12-month bar applies. There are four exceptions:

  • J-1 Transfers. The 12-month bar is not applicable to those who are transferring to another institution to continue their current J-1 program.
  • Presence in J status of less than 6 months. A person whose prior J status was of less than six months duration (physical presence in the U.S.) is exempt from the 12-month bar.
  • Presence in J status in the “Short-Term Scholar” category. No time spent in the “Short-Term Scholar” category  triggers the 12-month bar.
  • The 12-month bar does not apply to individuals who are subject to the 24-month bar. In other words, individuals subject to the 24-month bar are not additionally subject to the 12-month bar.