If an individual is invited as a Research Scholar and has previously been in the United States on a J-1 or J-2 visa, the time spent in the USA may affect eligibility to participate in the J-1 program categories of Research Scholar, Professor and Trainee. One may be eligible to begin a new program if they have not been physically present in the United States as a non-immigrant on J-1 status for all or part of the 24-month period immediately preceding the program start date on the DS-2019. This rule was put in place November 4, 2006. Prior to this date, the bar was for a 12-month period. While the US Forest Service does not sponsor professors, this is an important rule for exchange visitors invited by other sponsors in the professor category in the past or future. The only exceptions to the 24-month bar are:
- The Exchange Visitor is transferring to another J-1 program sponsor and is still within the maximum time limits for the program category
- The Exchange Visitor has been in the country less than 6 months
- The Exchange Visitor was categorized as a short-term scholar during the most recent stay
Please note that time spent in visa classifications other than J-1 and J-2 is not counted towards the 6 months of presence that activates the bar for Research Scholars and Professors. Only time spent in “J” categories in the 24-month period preceding the new program start date is relevant. The 24-month bar is not a home residence requirement. This 24-month period could be spent inside the US in another non-immigrant status or outside the US.
12-month Bar (previous participation as a J-1 Exchange Visitor)
To be eligible for a J-1 program in the Professor or Research Scholar category, participants CANNOT be in the United States in another J-visa program category for any part of the 12-month period preceding the start date of the program as indicated on the Form DS-2019. Exceptions: The 12-month bar can be waived if the participant 1) was present in the United States less than 6 months during that period; or 2) participated in the Short-Term Scholar category.
24-month Bar (previous participation as a Professor or Research Scholar)
To be eligible for a J-1 program in the Professor, Research Scholar or Trainee categories, participants CANNOT be in the United States as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar Program participant for any part of the 24-month period preceding the start date of the program as indicated on the Form DS-2019. There are no exceptions to this rule.