J-1 Research Scholar & Professor Category
The 12-Month Bar
Individuals who have been in the United States for more than six months in the previous year (12 months) in J visa status are not eligible to enter the United States as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor for a 12-month period. Time spent in the J-1 Short-term Scholar category does not count towards the 12-month bar. The 12-month bar applies to both the J-1 principal and any J-2 dependents. The 12-month bar does not prevent individuals from returning to the United States in any other visa status.
The 24-Month Bar
Any individual who participates in an Exchange Visitor program in the Researcher Scholar or Professor category on or after 11/18/06 is subject to a 24-month bar on "repeat participation" in those categories. Scholars subject to the 24-month bar may not return to the United States as a J-1 scholar in the Research Scholar or Professor category for the 24-month period. This bar also applies to J-2 dependents. The 24-month bar is not the same as the Two Year Home Residence Requirement. The 24-month bar does not prevent individuals from returning to the United States in any other visa status.
Impact of the 24-Month Bar
When a scholar either concludes or leaves a J-1 program, whichever happens earlier, the scholar's record becomes inactive in SEVIS; thus making it impossible for the HIO to reactivate it. At that point, the 24-month bar time starts to accrue. Therefore, it is extremely important for the HIO to be informed of a scholar's departure from Harvard and his/her future plans, so that the scholar's SEVIS record can be properly maintained to facilitate his/her possible return to the United States.
Two-Year Home Residence Requirement vs 12 and 24 Month Bars for J Visa Holders
Frequently Asked Questions about the 24-Month Bar for Research Scholars and Professors
- Q: Can I change jobs and have a new J-1 Professor/ Research Scholar visa with a new employer within the 5 year limit?
A: Yes. If a J-1 professor/ research scholar leaves one employer and moves to a new job with another University (that also sponsors J-1 visas) s/he can transfer to the J-1 program of the new employer. These scholars may keep extending and changing employers via the J-1 transfer process for up to 5 years.
NOTE: There cannot be a gap of time between employers. Scholars need to communicate to both employers their intent to remain in the United States on a J visa.
- Q: What if I need to leave the United States for a meeting or conference -- will I have to wait 24 months before I can return?
A: No. As long as the J-1 professor/ research scholar continues with the original Harvard affiliation, short stays outside the United States are permitted, and do not constitute a completion of the J program.
- Q: I have a J-1 Professor/ Research Scholar visa that is only valid for one year. I may stay longer if the grant is renewed for one more year. Will I have to go home for 24 months or can I extend my J visa for a second year?
A: J-1 professor/ research scholars may extend their stay for up to 5 years as long as there is no gap of time and the HIO receives the requests of extension before the expiration of their current Forms DS-2019.
- Q: Are the two year home residence requirement and the 24-month bar the same thing?
A: No. As mentioned in #2 above, the 24-month bar affects only scholars who have had the J-1 visa status in the Professor/ Research Scholar category, and who wish to use the same category again. The two year home residence requirement can be an issue for any J visa holder - not just those who have been in the J-1 Professor/ Research Scholar category.
- Q: During my 24 months outside the United States, may I return to the United States for short visits?
A: Yes. You may return to the United States on any kind of visa, including the J-1 Short-term Scholar visa category. You are only prevented from returning on the J-1 visa in the Research Scholar/Professor category.