Exchange Visitor Program Overview

The primary purpose of the J-1 exchange visitor program is to foster international exchange, understanding, and collaboration. The J-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa and as such it is expected that exchange visitors will return to their home country upon completion of their J-1 program.

J-1 regulations require exchange visitors to:

  • Demonstrate English proficiency sufficient to function independently both on and off campus.
  • Maintain comprehensive medical insurance with evacuation and repatriation coverage for themselves and accompanying J-2 dependents that meets U.S. government minimum requirements beginning on the start date of the J-1 program continuing to the end of the J-1 program.

J-1 Scholar Categories

Category Minimum Participation Maximum Participation Acceptable Activities Special Requirements / Restrictions
Research Scholar / Professor 3 weeks 5 years Teaching, lecturing, observing, consulting and conducting research Bachelor's degree required. No tenure track positions.
Short-Term Scholar 1 day 6 months Lecturing, observing, consulting, training, demonstrating special skills. Bachelor's degree expected.
Specialist 3 weeks 1 year Observing, consulting, demonstrating special knowledge or skills. Sharing expertise. Cannot be filling a permanent or long-term position.
Student Intern 3 weeks 1 year Full-fill educational objectives for degree program in home country. DS-7002 Internship Plan. Internship position. Good academic standing. Must return home to finish degree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regulatory Bars and Requirements

12-Month Bar After Previous J Program Participation

Prospective research scholars or professors are not eligible to begin new exchange visitor programs if they were physically present in the U.S. in J-1 or J-2 status for all or part of the 12-month period immediately preceding the proposed program start date unless the prospective scholar:

  • is transferring J sponsorship and has not exceeded the maximum participation limit for the J category;
  • was only present in the U.S. for six months or less during the previous 12-month period; or
  • was only engaged in a short-term scholar exchange visitor program during the previous 12-month period.

24-Month Bar On Repeat Research Scholar/ Professor Program Participation

Exchange visitors who complete a J-1 or J-2 program (other than a short-term scholar program), regardless of the duration of the program, are barred from beginning a new J-1 research scholar or professor program for two years following the end of the most recent program.

Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement

Some J-1 exchange visitors (and their J-2 dependents) are subject (based on their specialized knowledge and/or source of funding) to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement following their J-1 program.