J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

The objective of J-1 exchange visitor program is "to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges." [Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (Fulbright-Hayes Act) of 1961]

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) for the express purpose of promoting international educational exchange of expertise and stimulating collaborative teaching and research efforts.  Exchange is truly at the core of the program  based on this philosophy and directive.

The J-1 program provides opportunities for international scholars and students looking to learn about US culture and to gain practical experience in the United States. The multifaceted programs enable foreign nationals to come to the U.S. to teach, study, conduct research, demonstrate special skills or receive on the job training for periods ranging from a few weeks to several years.

Who Qualifies as a J-1 Exchange Visitor? +

A J-1 Exchange Visitor can be a visiting researcher, professor, student or specialist from a country outside of the United States who has been approved to enter the United States for a specific purpose and for a limited amount of time.   

Categories and Maximum Lengths of Stay 

• Professor or Research Scholar: Five year (this includes postdoctoral associates and fellows)
• Short-term scholars: Six months
• Visiting research student (non-degree): Two years
• Student intern: One year

Sponsorship: J-1 visa holders must be primarily funded by either Rutgers, their host university, government agencies, or other legitimate agencies for the duration of their stay. Only 25% of funding requirements may come from personal finances.

Status Document: DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility

Families: Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 who will accompany J-1 visa holders during their time in the United States must obtain a J-2 visa.

Special conditions: Exchange Visitors may only be employed by their sponsoring department at Rutgers. Occasional lecturing and consultation outside of Rutgers is allowed only with vetting and permission in advance by Rutgers Global–International Student and Scholar Services.

International student interns (paid or unpaid) may only work for their sponsoring department at Rutgers for up to 32 hours per week. 

Visiting Research Students (non-degree) may only be employed by the sponsoring department at Rutgers for a maximum of 20 hours per week. They can only work on projects that will enhance their approved research plan.

Challenges and Restrictions +

212(e) or Two-year Homestay Rule

Certain J-1 exchange visitors are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement.  These exchange visitors must reside and be physically present in their country of nationality or last legal permanent residence for an aggregate of at least two years following completion of the exchange program and departure from the United States.  These exchange visitors are ineligible to apply for or receive an H, K, or L nonimmigrant visa, nor are they eligible for an immigrant visa or permanent residence status until they have either complied with the foreign residence requirement, or received a waiver.

You will be subject to the 212(e) if: 

(a)  You are participating in an exchange program financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the U.S. Government, your home government, or an international organization which received funding from the U.S. Government or your home government

(b)  Your exchange program involves an area of study or field of specialized knowledge (Skills List) that has been designated as necessary for further development within your home country. The skills list can be found here

(c)  You entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training.


(Professor or Research Scholar Category Only)

• When your program ends, you and your dependents are barred from starting a new program in the J-1 Professor or Research Scholar Category for 24 months

• You can re-enter in another J-1 category except Professor or Research Scholar, or you may change to another non-immigrant status as long as you are not subject to the 2-year home residency requirement.

• 5 years – “use it or lose it”. Once your program ends, you cannot utilize unused program time for extensions, transfers or to start a new program.

• Only option: “Short-Term Scholar” category (up to 6 months)


(Student Non-Degree Only)

If you were present in the US in any J-1 or J-2 status (other than J-1 “short term scholar”) for 6 months or more within a 12 month period, you are subject to a 12 month bar from participating in the categories of “Professor or Research Scholar.” This primarily applies to Visiting Research Students (non-degree).

Grace Period for J-1 Visa Holders

• J-1s: 30 days after end date of DS-2019

• Use this time to shop, sightsee, pack, sell your car, etc.

• Absolutely NO employment, NO research, NO teaching or project work

• Do not cross the U.S. border during the grace period – you  will not be able to come back in!

Extension/Transfer of J-1 Status +

• Eligibility for extension depends on your situation. Go to your Dept. administrator to discuss this option well in advance of your DS-2019 expiration date

• It is not possible to extend an expired DS-2019!

• A transfer is possible in certain cases. You must first find another institution that will accept you and your approved research program. You should also discuss your plans in advance with your host professor and Department Administrator.

J-2 Dependents +

The J-2 Visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by a consular official at a U.S. embassy or consulate for spouses and dependents (unmarried children under the age of 21) of J-1 exchange visitors who accompany or later join the J-1 Exchange Visitor in the United States.

Maximum length of stay: This depends on the length of the primary J-1 visa holder's DS-2019 status document. J-2 dependents may not remain in the United States after the J-1 visa holder leaves the country, unless the primary J-1 visa holder’s absence is brief and temporary.

Dependent visas are meant for family members who want to visit the J-1 visa holder in the United States for a significant period of time. If your family member will come for three months or less, we would advise you to apply for a B-2 (tourist visa) instead.

Funding Requirements: J-1 visa holders must show proof of their own support for living expenses, as well as for their dependents during their time in the U.S.

Helpful Links +