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J-1 Restrictions

Applies to: 

J-1 scholars applying to research scholar or professor program

Regulation or Restriction Details:

An individual is not eligible if they have been physically present in the United States in J-1 or J-2 status for all or part of the twelve month period immediately preceding the date of program commencement as stated on their Form DS-2019, unless:

  1. The participant is transferring to the sponsor's program and has not exceeded the maximum allowed time of five years.
  2. The participant's presence in the United States was of less than six months duration; or
  3. The participant's presence in the United States was pursuant to a short-term scholar exchange activity.

Applies to: 

J-1 scholars applying to research scholar or professor program.

** Does not apply to those who were/currently are a J-1 short term scholar**

Regulation or Restriction Details:

Individual must wait two years before eligible to begin a new J-1 research scholar/professor program, regardless of whether or not they used the full five year maximum on a previous J-1 or J-2 program.

Applies to: 

Certain J-1 visitors and their J-2 dependents may be subject to this requirement based on a specific set of criteria. Individuals:

  1. Who have been financed to some extent by the U.S. government or their home country government.
  2. Who are gaining skills that are needed by their home country as indicated in the Exchange Visitor Skills List.
  3. Whose purpose in coming to the U.S. is to receive graduate medical education or training.

Regulation or Restriction Details:

If an individual is subject to this requirement, they must leave the U.S. to do an out-of-country change of status from J-1 scholar to any other non-immigrant status, and they must complete two full years in their home country before they can apply for any immigrant status in the U.S. Grounds for obtaining a waiver of this requirement are very limited.

The two-year home-country physical presence requirement is based on Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. If you are subject to the requirement, then you must return to your home country, or last country of permanent residence, for at least 2 years at the end of your J-1 program.

Until the requirement is fulfilled or waived you will not be able to

  • Apply for H, L, and Permanent Resident statuses in the U.S. and at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate 
  • Apply for a K visa outside the U.S. 
  • Apply for a nonimmigrant status while inside the U.S.  

However, while you are subject, you do have the option to leave and return to the U.S. as a F-1 student, B Visitor, or O-1 Extraordinary Ability visa and many other nonimmigrant statuses.

Your visa or DS-2019  should indicate if you are subject to the requirement. However, these documents don’t always match or even if they do match, the notation is incorrect. Contact an ISSS Advisor for assistance. 

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