24-Month Bar for J-1 Visitors
In January 2007, the US Department of State (DOS) issued a final ruling affecting the J Professor and Research Scholar categories. These changes were retroactive to November 18, 2006. The rules are as follows:
- The maximum period of participation for J Professors and Researcher Scholars increased from three years to five years. The five year period is not an aggregate of five years; it is a continuous period given to a participant on a "use it or lose it" basis.
- The 24-month bar on repeat participation in the J Professor or Research Scholar categories will apply to those who complete their program participation in those categories.
- This rule applies to any J Professor and Research Scholar who completes their J program on or after November 18, 2006; meaning any J Professor or Research Scholar in active status after 11/18/06 would be subject to the bar. The J category is found in Section 4 on the DS-2019.
Understanding the 24-Month Bar
Any individual who participates in an Exchange Visitor (EV) program in the Professor or Research Scholar categories on or after 11/18/06 is subject to a 24-month bar on "repeat participation" in those categories. Scholars subject to the bar may not return to the US as a J-1 scholar in the Professor or Research Scholar categories for a 24-month period.
The 24-month bar will be in effect regardless of whether status in the program is a few months in duration or the full five years allowed. Whenever an exchange program ends and the SEVIS record becomes "inactive", the five-year window is "closed" and the individual must wait 24 months before beginning a new program as a J Professor or Research Scholar. To take advantage of the full five years of the Professor or Research Scholar category, the visitor would need to have an appointment of five continuous years to keep his/her SEVIS record active. Unused time from the five-year window may not be saved for use later.
Example: A professor who comes in J1 status for a single academic year, or a research scholar who comes for four months, and then goes home without having his/her SEVIS record kept open and active in their absence, would not be able to access the remainder of the five year period of eligibility. They would be subject to the 24-month bar and would not be eligible to return to the US as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar at any institution until the 24-months (two year) time frame has passed.
Am I Subject to the 24 Month Bar?
Any J Exchange Visitor in the Research Scholar or Professor categories (and their J-2 dependents) whose program ends after 11/18/06 is subject to this ruling.
J exchange visitors in the Short-Term Scholar or Student categories are not subject to the 24-month bar.
Your Future Options
If you are subject to the 24 month bar, you will not be able to return to the US as a J-1 scholar in the Professor or Research Scholar categories for a two year period. However, you may be able to return in a different J-1 category or with a different type of visa. You may also consider extending your current J-1 status for a longer period, if possible, before the current end date on the DS-2019. (You can find your program end date in Section 3 on your DS-2019).
Two Year Home Residency
The two year home residency requirement is different and separate from the 24-month bar. Visitors in any J category may be subject to the two year home residency requirement.