Repeat Participation Bars

The primary purpose of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is for cultural and educational exchange. A crucial part of the exchange is when the exchange visitor returns to his/her home country to share knowledge and experiences gained as part of the Exchange Visitor Program in the United States. To preserve the spirit of the program and support the true exchange, there are several restrictions on repeat participation in J programs. These restrictions most significantly impact the Research Scholar and Professor categories.

12-Month Bar

An individual is not eligible to begin a new Exchange Visitor Program as a Research Scholar or Professor if he/she was physically present in any J status (including J‐2 status) for all or part of the 12-month period immediately preceding the program start date. There are three general exceptions to this rule:

  1. J‐1 transfers. The 12-month bar is not applicable to those who will transfer their current J-1 program to a new program sponsor under the transfer procedures of 22 CFR §62.42.
  2. Presence in J‐1 status of less than 6 months. The 12-month bar is not applicable to an individual whose prior physical presence in J status was less than six months in duration.
  3. Short‐Term Scholar category. No time spent in the J-1 Short‐Term Scholar category will trigger the 12-month bar (the Short-Term Scholar category is limited to six months).

24-Month Bar

An individual who participates in the Exchange Visitor Program as a Research Scholar or Professor becomes subject to a 24‐month repeat participation bar after completing the program. The 24‐month bar prohibits the principal J-1 exchange visitor (as well as any J-2 dependents) from returning to the US in the J-1 Research Scholar or Professor categories for 24 months from the date of completion of the prior program. The 24-month bar goes into effect once a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor completes the program, regardless of whether or not the exchange visitor utilized the full five years of program eligibility.

The 24-month bar is often confused with the two-year home country physical presence requirement. However, the 24‐month bar is not a home‐country residence requirement, as it does not require the individual to reside in his/her home country, nor does it require the individual to be out of the US. The 24-month bar only prohibits the individual from beginning a new program in the J-1 Research Scholar or Professor categories for 24 months (two years).

Note that an individual may be subject to both the 24-month bar on repeat participation and the two-year home country residency requirement.