Bars on Repeat Participation
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.
Exchange Visitors in either the Research Scholar or Professor categories are subject to a 24-month bar on repeat participation in those categories after completion of their program, 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. The Department of State took the position that the 24-month bar will also apply to J-2 dependents of J-1 Professors or Research Scholars, if the J-2 subsequently wishes to return as a Professor or Research Scholar.
Note that the 24-month bar is not the same as the two-year home country physical presence requirement.
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 less than six months (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.