Length of Stay and Residency Requirements

Maximum Length of Stay

The maximum length of program for J-1 exchange visitors in the Research Scholar and Professor category is five years. The five year maximum stay for a J-1 research scholar/professor is not counted in the aggregate. The five year “clock” begins with the start date on the DS-2019 form and this status remains available until the end of five years or the date the J-1 program is concluded, whichever is earlier. At MSU, the initial DS-2019 will be issued for the duration of the appointment and can be extended up to a maximum of five years. However, when the program at MSU is completed so is the J-1 program unless the scholar transfers immediately to another J-1 sponsor.

Two-Year Participation Bar

At the end of the J-1 research scholar/professor’s exchange visitor program, regardless of the length of the stay (7 months, 2 years, or 5 years), the exchange visitor becomes subject to a “two year bar on repeat participation as a J-1 research scholar of professor.” This means that when a research scholar/professor completes his or her J-1 program participation, regardless of the length, the J-1 research scholar/professor status is concluded and is not eligible for another stay as a J-1 research scholar/professor until two years have passed.

This bar is different from the two year home country residence requirement and only applies if the individual wants to return to the U.S. in the J-1 research scholar/professor category. The two years can be spent in the U.S. in another J-1 category (i.e. short term scholar or specialist) or in another immigration status, e.g. H-1B, if eligible.

Existing 12 month bar

There currently exists a 12 month bar for persons seeking to use the J-1 Research Scholar/Professor category. This bar applies to individuals who have been in the US in any J status (all categories except short term scholar, and including J-2 status) for six months or more in the 12 month period immediately prior to the proposed start date on the new J program. Prospective J-1 research scholar/professors who are subject to the two year bar on participation are not subject additionally to the 12 month bar.

Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement Pertaining to J-1 Exchange Visitors

This "two-year residence" requirement applies to you if you receive any funding (including nominal travel grants) from your home government or a U.S. government agency. It also applies to you if trained personnel in your field are identified by your home government as being in short supply and your field has consequently been included on the U.S. government's "Exchange Visitor's Skills List." The two year residence requirement also applies to persons receiving graduate medical education or training.

If you do not know whether your country and/or field appear on the "Exchange Visitor's Skills List," check the Department of State website. The two-year home country physical presence requirement is explained on the reverse side of the DS-2019 form. An exchange visitor who is subject to this requirement must reside for an aggregate of two (2) years in his or her country of nationality or last legal permanent residence or have the requirement waived before being eligible for other U.S. immigration statuses, including H, or permanent resident status.