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International Student and Scholar Support

Residency Requirements and Bars

The 212(e) home residency requirement and the 12 and 24 month bars, not to be confused with each other, are both important things to consider when participating in the Exchange Visitor Program. Read more below.

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.

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