Maintaining Immigration Status as a J-1

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Certain exchange visitors are required to return to their home country for two years after completing the program.  J-1 visa holders and their dependents are subject to this requirement if they meet any of the following criteria:
  • The exchange visitor's program was funded, either directly or indirectly, by the United States government or foreign government for the purpose of exchange.
  • The skills the exchange visitor is coming to develop or exercise are listed on the exchange skills list.
  • The exchange visitor's purpose for coming to the United States is to receive graduate medical education or training.
Individuals who are subject to the home residency requirement can not change their visa type to H-1B, L, or permanent resident.  Such individuals also cannot change their status to another non-immigrant type.  In some situations, it may be unclear if the two year residency rule applies.  In such instances, the exchange visitor may request an "advisory opinion"  by writing a letter to the Waiver Review Division of the US Department of State.  You should include legible versions of all the pink copies of your DS-2019 with this request.  The Waiver Review Division will send you a letter that states whether you are subject to the two year home residency requirement.
Click here for more information on J-1 waivers and advisory opinions.

12-Month Bar
Research scholars or professors must not have participated in a J-1 visitor program (such as J-1 or J-2) for any length of time during the 12 month period preceding the start date of a research scholar or professor program, unless they meet one of the following conditions:

  • The exchange visitor is currently in a research scholar or professor program and is transferring to a different institution in the United States to continue the J-1 program.
  • The exchange visitor’s prior physical presence in the United States was less than 6 months, and they were participating as a short term scholar.

24-Month Bar on Repeat Participation
Exchange visitors who have recently completed one program in a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category are “barred” from beginning a new program in J-1 research scholar or professor categories for a period of twenty-four months and cannot be issued a DS 2019 marked “begin new program”.  The 24th month bar will go into effect regardless of whether the scholar has used the full five years of their maximum eligibility in the category.  This also applies to J-2 dependents.

All international students, scholars, and their dependents are required to maintain health insurance coverage that is compliant with USA’s minimum stipulations and provide verification of coverage as requested at all times.
Click here for more information on health insurance at the University of South Alabama.


J-1 Exchange Visitors must comply with the employment limitations of the program.  J-1 employment is limited only to the University of South Alabama and an exchange visitor may not work for any other employer.  J-2 visa holders (J-1 dependents) may not be employed without specific written authorization by the US DOS and notification to the Office of International Education.  For more information on employment authorization for J-2s, please contact the Office of International Education.