J-1 Visa Rules and Regulations

CC sponsored J-1 Exchange Visitors should comply with the U.S. Federal Regulations governing their specific J-1 category (Short-term Scholar, Professor/Research Scholar, Specialist). Your category is indicated in Section 4 of your Form DS-2019. The following is a summary of the regulations you must adhere to in order to maintain lawful status in the United States. J-1 Exchange Visitors sponsored by another institution should contact their institutional advisor for additional information relating to their program sponsor.

Initial Registration Requirements

All new J-1 Exchange Visitors must complete an immigration check-in at the International Student & Scholar Services office within 30 days of the start date on their DS-2019 form.

Maintaining Required Health Insurance

All exchange visitors and their accompanying dependents are required to obtain minimum levels of health insurance coverage throughout the duration of their program. The J-1 exchange visitor must select one of the pre-screened programs from our list and provide proof of enrollment when you complete your immigration check-in at ISSS. Click here for a full list of pre-screened programs.

Restrictions on Employment

J-1 Exchange Visitors should not engage in any employment that is unrelated to their program objectives. They are permitted to work only at the location listed on the Form DS-2019. Any incidental employment must be approved in writing, in advance, by the J-1 Responsible Officer. Incidental employment must be related to their program objective.

Change of Residential Address

Immigration Regulations require that all non-citizens report their residential address within 10 days of their entry into the United States and subsequently report any changes of address within 10 days. All address changes must be reported to the Responsible Officer in the ISSS office.

Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement (212[e])

Under specific circumstances, a J-1 exchange visitor may incur a Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement. The J-2 dependents are subject to this same requirement if the J-1 visa holder is subject to the requirement. This means that neither the J-1 nor the J-2 may change immigration status to H, L, or Permanent Residency without first returning to his/her country for two years or obtaining a waiver of this requirement. If the Two-Year Foreign Residency requirement applies, change of status to another non-immigrant classification, such as F-1, in the U.S. is prohibited. If the individual is subject to this requirement, the J-1 visa stamp or DS-2019 form will indicate that the bearer is subject to "212(e)." If you belong to one of the following categories, you are most likely subject to this requirement at the end of your J-1 program:

  • Medical doctor sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)
  • You come from a country on the U.S. Department of State "Exchange Visitor Skills List"
  • You receive funding from your home country government or from the U.S. Government through agencies, such as Fulbright

The Two-Year Foreign Residence requirement will not prevent you from re-entering the U.S. with an F-1 student, B-1/B-2 (tourist), or J-1 student visa (or some other categories) in the future, but it will prevent you from getting an H-1B (non-immigrant employment visa) or Permanent Resident status unless the 2 year requirement is either fulfilled or waived.

For more information on applying for a waiver of the Exchange visitor Two-Year Home Country physical presence requirement, please visit the U.S. Department of State website.

12 and 24 Month Bars

The 12 and 24 month rule affects J-1 exchange visitors who have been in the U.S. on a J-1 visa previously, and wish to return, using the J-1 visa. The bars prohibit certain "repeat participation" in the Research Scholar or Professor categories only. Depending on what your previous J category was, you may be subject to a 12-month bar, a 24-month bar, or have no bar at all. The charts below show how long you must wait before you are eligible for a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor program based on your previous J-1 status:

Previous J-1 visa status for LESS than 6 months:
If you have or had this J visa category

Wait time for new J-1 Research Scholar/Professor status

J-1 Student Non-degree

No Wait

J-1 Student No Wait
J-1 Short-term Scholar No Wait
J-1 Specialist No Wait
J-1 Research Scholar/Professor for any amount of time 24 months
J-2 Dependent of any J-1 category except Research Scholar/Professor No Wait
J-2 Dependent of Research Scholar/Professor 24 months
Previous J-1 visa status for MORE than 6 months:
If you have or had this J visa category Wait time for new J-1 Research Scholar/Professor status
J-1 Student Non-degree 12 months
J-1 Student 12 months
J-1 Specialist 12 months
J-1 Research Scholar/Professor category for any amount of time (one day to five years) 24 months
J-2 Dependent of Research Scholar/Professor category 24 months
J-2 Dependent of any category except Research Scholar/Professor 12 months

Travel Outside the U.S. and Re-entry

When traveling outside the U.S., you will need to have the proper documents to return including:

  • Passport valid 6 months into the future
  • Valid DS-2019 with travel signature less than 1 year old
  • Valid J-1 visa (for citizens of certain countries, reentry from Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island may be allowed with an expired visa: see Automatic Revalidation)


All J-1 exchange visitors must file federal tax forms every year that they are in the U.S. The deadlines to file the forms are April 15th, if U.S. sourced income is earned and June 15th, if no U.S. money is earned.

For more information, refer to the IRS webpage: Taxation of Nonresident Aliens or consult with the Tax and Compliance Manager at CC.

Grace Period

When a J-1 exchange visitor completes his/her program, a 30-day grace period begins. During these 30 days, he/she may remain in the U.S. and prepare to leave. It is not permissible to work during the grace period. Nor may one exit the U.S.and reenter as a J-1 during the grace period.

Report an issue - Last updated: 12/17/2020