Eligibility & Restrictions for Returning Scholars

For returning exchange visitors, there are a few rules to keep in mind. The most common are the 12 Month Bar, the 24 Month Bar, and the Two Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement.

If a scholar has used a J visa before, there are some specific restrictions about whether and when they can re-enter as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor.

A scholar returning as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor may need to wait 1 year (or, in some cases, 2 years) after their previous program's end date before beginning a second program. These restrictions are called the "12 Month Bar" or "24 Month Bar." These restrictions are applied based on the length of the planned visit and the scholar's previous visa status. There are many different J-1 categories and different rules apply to each. OISS can help you figure out which rules apply.

No Bar: If a scholar is applying for the J-1 Short-Term Scholar status (which has a maximum duration period of six months), there is no waiting period required.

12 Month Bar: If a scholar is applying for the J-1 Research Scholar of Professor status (which has a maximum duration period of five years), there is a 1 year waiting period if the scholar's previous status was:

  • J-1 Student Non-Degree
  • J-1 Student
  • J-1 Specialist
  • J-2 dependent of any of the above categories

24 Month Bar: If the scholar has previously participated in the J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category for any amount of time (one day to five years), then the 2 year wait applies.  J-2 Dependents of  J-1 Research Scholars or Professors are also subject to this 24 month bar.


Two Year Home-Residency Requirement (also known as the foreign residence requirement under U.S. Law, Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212(e)): The Two Year Home-Residency Requirement is separate  from the 24 Month Bar mentioned above. Certain J-1 exchange visitors are required to return to their  home country and be physically present there for a cumulative total of two years before you can do any of the following:
  • Change status while in the U.S. to the nonimmigrant categories of temporary worker (H) or intracompany (L); or fiancé (K);
  • Adjust status while in the U.S. to immigrant visa/lawful permanent resident status (LPR);
  • Receive an immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate
If you are unable to return to your home country to fulfill the two-year requirement, you will need to have a waiver approved by the Department of Homeland Security prior to changing status in the United States or being issued a visa in certain categories for travel to the United States. More information about the waiver here.