International Update
J-1 5-Year Rule

Maximum Stay for J-1 Research Scholar/Professor Category Extended to Five Years

Effective November 18, 2007, the maximum length of program for J-1 exchange visitors in the Research Scholar and Professor category has been increased from three to five years. The five year maximum stay for a J-1 research scholar/professor is not counted in the aggregate.  The five year “clock” begins with the start date on the DS-2019 form and this status remains available to the individual until the end of five years or the date the J-1 program is concluded, whichever is earlier.  At Yale, the initial DS-2019 will be issued for the duration of the appointment and can be extended up to a maximum of five years.  However, when the program at Yale is completed so is the J-1 program unless the scholar transfers immediately to another J-1 sponsor.

At the end of the J-1 research scholar/professor’s exchange visitor program, regardless of the length of the stay (7 months, 2 years, or 5 years), the exchange visitor becomes subject to a “two year bar on repeat participation as a J-1 research scholar or professor.”  This means that when a research scholar/professor completes his or her J-1 program participation, regardless of the length, the J-1 research scholar/professor status is concluded and the person is not eligible for another stay as a J-1 research scholar/professor until two years have passed.

This bar only applies if the individual wants to return to the U.S. in the J-1 research scholar/professor category.  The two years can be spent in the U.S. in another J-1 category (i.e. short-term scholar or specialist) or in another immigration status, e.g. H-1B, if eligible.

This rule applies to any J-1 research scholar/professor who held that status on or after November 18, 2006. Current J-1 research scholars are now eligible for a maximum stay of five years.  Departing J-1 research scholars are now subject to the “two year bar on repeat participation as a J-1 research scholar/professor.”

For future appointments, departments should consider the following: 

  • If the individual visits Yale on a regular basis (e.g. every fall semester, every third semester, etc.) please consult with OISS to determine the appropriate sequence of immigration statuses.  It is important to discuss this with OISS prior to the issuance of the initial immigration document. 
  • The initial DS-2019 will be issued for the period of the initial appointment.  If funding is confirmed for the next five years, then the initial document can be issued for the full five years as long as the department requests this and anticipates needing the scholar for the full duration.
  • If the DS-2019 is issued for a length of stay that is less than five years, the stay can be extended up to the maximum when additional funding becomes available and upon the sponsoring department’s request for extension.
  • Departments and scholars may want to consider the use of the J-1 Short-Term Scholar Category.  The short-term scholar category is another distinct category of exchange visitor, different from the J-1 research scholar/professor.  It permits an individual to stay in the U.S for up to six months.  Extensions beyond six months are not permissible.   Short-term scholar participants are not subjected to the two year bar on participation.  To date, OISS has used the short-scholar category for only a few appointments.  In the future, when an initial appointment is for six months or less, OISS will talk with the host department about using short-term scholar category avoid subjecting exchange visitors to the 2-year bar unnecessarily.  In the instances where the scholar makes repeated visits to Yale University the short-term scholar category may be a better choice.
  • Health Insurance: Health insurance coverage remains mandatory for J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents during their entire stay in the U.S. in J status.

For more information about the new J-1 5-Year Rule please visit  http://www.oiss.yale.edu/visa/j5year.htm.