J-1 Immigration Rules
12 and 24 Month “Bars”
The U.S. State Department has implemented regulations that prevent repeat usage of some J Exchange Visitor categories. The bars only apply to the Scholar or Professor category of the J-1 visa. The bars do not prevent access to other visas or other categories of the J Exchange Visitor Program. These bars are also entirely separate from the “Two-Year Home-Residency” requirement.
12 Month “Bar”
Individuals who have been in the U.S. for more than six months in the previous year with J-1 or J-2 visa status are not eligible to enter the United States again as a J-1 Scholar or Professor for a 12-month period. The only exception is if the first visit was using the J-1 Short Term Scholar category, which does not count towards the 12-month bar. The 12-month bar does not prevent individuals from returning to the United States in other visa status like F-1, B-1, H-1B.
24 Month “Bar”
Any individual who participates in a J-1 Exchange Visitor program in the Professor or Scholar categories is subject to a 24-month bar on “repeat participation” in that same category. J-1 Exchange Visitors may not return to the U.S. as a J-1 visa holder in the Professor or Scholar categories for the 24-month period. The 24-month bar occurs regardless of whether the entire U.S. program was a few months or a few years. Whenever an Exchange Visitor ends his/her academic appointment and returns home the bar becomes effective. For example, both the professor who comes to UTEP for 4 years and the researcher who visits for 7 months, would after returning home be prevented from returning again to the US with a new J-1 Scholar or Professor visa for 24 months. This bar also applies to family members who held J-2 Scholar or Professor dependent status. The 24-month bar does not prevent individuals from returning to the United States in other visa status like F-1, B-1, H-1B.
Two-Year Home-Residency Requirement
The Two-Year Home-Residency requirement is different from the 24 month bar. The 12 and 24 month bars affect individuals seeking to start a new Scholar or Professor J-1 visa sponsorship. The Two-Year Home-Residency requirement only affects certain J-1 visa holders.
What is the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement?
Certain J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to a two-year home country physical presence requirement. J-1 visitors “subject” to this rule must return to their country of last legal residence for two years or obtain a waiver of this requirement before they are eligible for the H-1B), L-1, or Permanent Residence categories. This requirement does not prohibit a visitor from returning to the U.S. in any other non-immigration status. For example, if the J-1 exchange visitor wishes to return as a tourist or in F-1 student status within the two-year period and meets the requirements for those entries, the two-year physical presence requirement does not prohibit this.
Who is subject to the requirement?
J-1 visitors and their J-2 dependents (legal spouse and children under age 21) who meet at least one of the criteria listed below are subject to this rule:
* Home Government Funding. J-1 visitors who receive funding directly from their home country’s government are subject to the 212(e) requirement.
* U.S. Government Funding. J-1 visitors who receive funding directly from the U.S. government are “subject” to 212(e). Funding received as salary from UTEP department grants are not considered government funding for this purpose. However, there are some exceptions which include grants that are specifically targeted for international exchange. Fulbright funding is U.S. government funding.
* Funding from an International Organization or Bi-National Commission. J-1 visitors who receive funding from International Organizations or Bi-National Commissions (organizations that receive their funding from government sources), such as, United Nations, NATO, etc.
* The Exchange Visitor Skills List. J-1 visitors whose area of specialization has been identified as being in short supply by her/his government of legal permanent residence is considered “subject.”
* Medical Education and Training. Any J-1 visitor is subject if he/she is a foreign medical graduate and came to the U.S. to obtain graduate medical education or training.
Waiver of the 212 (e) Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement
The Office of International Programs advises that J-1 exchange visitors do not apply for a waiver of the two-year home country physical presence requirement without first discussing the timing of the request with an International Student Advisor. Once a “No Objection” recommendation is received from the Department of State, no further extension or transfer of the J-1 program is possible.
The Department of State has detailed instructions for application of the waiver of 212(e).
Office of International Programs
203 Union East Bldg * (915) 747-5664 * email@example.com * Hours: Monday-Tuesday 8-6 Wednesday-Friday 8-5
Monday-Friday 8-5 when classes are not in session.