J-1 Immigration Rules

12 and 24 Month Bars on J-1 Repeat Participation

New or repeat participation in exchange programs as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor is restricted by a period of ineligibility (or “bar”) after holding a J visa. Depending on previous J status, the period of ineligibility is either 12 or 24 months.

Eligibility for participation in J-1 categories other than Research Scholar or Professor is not affected by these bars.



The 12-month bar and the 24-month bar are two separate conditions, each of which have to be met by a prospective Professor or Research Scholar. The exceptions to the 12-month bar are only exceptions to applicability of the 12-month bar, not exceptions to applicability of the 24-month bar, and vice-versa.

To summarize:

  • J-1 transfer and J-1 Short-Term Scholar participation will not trigger either the 12-month or the 24-month bar.
  • For the 12-month bar, time spent physically present in any J status is the trigger: if presence is less than 6 months duration, the 12-month bar does not apply.
  • For the 24-month bar, completing the program as a Professor or Research Scholar is the trigger, regardless of whether the program is completed in less than six months or more than six months.
  • Since the 12- and 24-month bars are separate provisions, it is possible that an individual can concurrently be subject to both bars.


212(e) Two year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement

OIP can help visiting scholars determine if they are subject to 212(e), or 2-Year home-country physical presence requirement, but we do not assist in the preparation of 212(e) waiver applications.

Not all exchange visitors are subject to the two-year home residence requirement. J-1 Exchange Visitors and their accompanying dependents are subject to 212(e) if:

  1. the exchange visitor was funded by a U.S. government agency or the home country government, or an international organization that received funding from either government;
  2. the skills that the exchange visitor is coming to develop or exercise are listed on the Exchange Visitor skills list

An exchange visitor who falls into one of these groups will continue to be subject, even if funding or field of study changes. If the principal J-1 exchange visitor is subject to the two-year residence requirement, all dependents who enter the United States in J-2 status are subject to it as well.

Being subject to this regulation does not prohibit a visitor from returning to the U.S. as a student (F-1) or tourist, or for business (B1/B2). But it does prevent the exchange visitor to change to an H visa (temporary workers), K visa (fiancé) or L visa (intracompany transferees) or to apply for permanent residency. Exchange visitors may change status with the U.S. to an A status (diplomatic), G status (international organization), or U status (victims of qualifying criminal activity).

Fulfilling the home residence requirement

To satisfy the 212(e) home residence requirement, a subject individual must establish that he or she “has resided and been physically present in the country of his nationality or his last legal permanent residence for an aggregate of at least two years following departure from the United States.”

Must it be in a continuous two-year block?

To satisfy the 212(e), the exchange visitor must be able to show that he or she “has resided and been physically present” for an aggregate of at least two years following completion of the exchange visitor program and departure from the United States. Several factors need to be considered:

  1. The individual needs to have completed his or her program and departed the United States in order for the two-year clock to begin.
  2. The individual needs to have both “resided” and “been physically present” in the home country for an aggregate of two years.

Waivers of 212(e) home residence requirement

An exchange visitor may request that the 212(e) be waived only on the following bases:

  • Statement from the exchange visitor’s home country that it has no objection to the waiver
  • Request for waiver made by an interested U.S. government agency
  • Exceptional hardship to the U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child of the exchange visitor
  • Fear of persecution on account of race, religion, or political opinion

Waiver application procedures

The waiver application is completed entirely online. First, review the Department of State’s How to Apply web page.

212(e) waiver applications must be initiated online on Department Of State’s J Visa Waiver Online website.

Please note, that once you have submitted an application for 212 (e) waiver, you will no longer be able to extend the length of your program (DS-2019 form).


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