12 & 24 Month “Bars” on Repeat Participation
Time spent in the U.S. as a J-1 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 are applied only to persons beginning an Exchange Visitor program in the categories of “Research Scholar” and “Professor.” The bars do not affect eligibility for other J-1 categories, such as “Short-Term Scholar”, or any of the “Student” categories. Bars on repeat participation should NOT be confused with the two-year residence requirement.
Exchange Visitors in either the “Research Scholar” or “Professor” categories are subject to a 24-month bar on repeat participation beginning once they end their program, and regardless of the duration of that previous program. Time spent in any other J-1 category will never trigger the 24-month bar. 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. in J status in any category (including J-2 dependent) for all or part of the twelve-month period immediately preceding the date of the new program’s commencement. There are four exceptions:
– J-1 Transfers. Neither the 12-month bar nor the 24-month bar is applicable to those who are transferring to another institution in the U.S. to continue their current J-1 program.
– Presence in J status of less than 6 months. A person whose prior J status was of less than six months duration (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 subjected to the 24-month bar—in other words, individuals subject to the 24-month bar are not additionally subject to the 12-month bar.
212(e) Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement
J-1 Exchange Visitors subject to the two-year residence requirement must return to their “home” countries following completion of their J-1 programs and be physically present there for an aggregate of two years before being eligible to return to the United States in immigrant (permanent resident/green card) status, H status (temporary workers and dependents), or L status (intracompany transferees and dependents). Exchange Visitors subject to the two-year home country residence requirement are not eligible to change their non-immigrant status from J to permanent residence or to any other non-immigrant category except A (diplomatic) and G (international organization).
Note: Former Exchange Visitors are eligible for all other non-immigrant visa types, even if subject to the two-year residence requirement. Only lawful permanent residence, and H and L visas, are prohibited. Exchange Visitors subject to the two-year residence requirement are eligible to leave the U.S. and apply for visas to return as tourists, or as F-1 students as long as they are otherwise eligible for those visas. The two-year home residence requirement should NOT be confused with the 24-month bar on repeat participation.
Persons with a two-year residence requirement are eligible for program transfers and extension of their J status up to the limits of time for their particular Exchange Visitor category.