The 24-Month Bar
On January 11, 2007 the U.S. Department of State (DOS) published a final rule announcing that effective November 18, 2006, an individual who participates in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program in the Professor or Research Scholar category becomes subject to a 24-month bar on "repeat participation" in those categories after completing his or her program. (Your J-1 category can be found in section 4 of the Form DS-2019.)
Scholars subject to the bar may not return to the U.S. on "repeat participation" as a J-1 in the Professor or Research Scholar category for the 24-month period.
The maximum period of participation for the J Professor and Research Scholar categories is 5 years. The 24-month bar will be in effect regardless of whether status in the program is a few days/weeks in duration or the full five years allowed. Whenever an exchange program ends and the SEVIS record becomes "inactive", the five-year window is "closed" and the individual must wait 24 months before beginning a new program as a J Professor or Research Scholar. To take advantage of the full five years of the J Professor or Research Scholar category, a scholar would need to have an appointment of five continuous years to keep his/her SEVIS record active. Unused time from the five-year window may not be saved for use later.
For example, a J Research Scholar comes for a single academic year(August 1, 2013 to July 31, 2014), then goes home without having her SEVIS record kept open and active in her absence. She would not be able to access the remainder of the five year period of eligibility. She would be subject to the 24 month bar and would not be eligible to return to the United States as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar at any institution until 24-months (two years) after the last program ended, which would be August 1, 2016.
Am I Subject to the 24-Month Bar?
Any J Exchange Visitor in the Professor or Research Scholar category (and their J-2 dependents) whose J-1 program ends on or after November 18, 2006 is subject to the 24- month bar. The J-1 program end date can be found in section 3 of your Form DS-2019. The J-1 category can be found in section 4.
J Exchange Visitors in the Short-Term Scholar, Specialist or Student categories are not subject to the 24- month bar. The J category can be found in section 4 of your Form DS-2019.
Your Future Options
If you are subject to the 24-month bar, you will not be able return to the U.S. as a J-1 scholar in the Professor or Research Scholar category for a two-year period. However, you may be able to return in a different J category or with a different type of visa. You may also consider extending your current J-1 status for a longer period, if possible. It is important that you consult with the international office at Berkeley or other institutions if you have plans to return to the U.S. in the future for research or teaching.
Two Year Home Residency Requirement
The two-year home residency requirement is different and separate from the 24-month bar. For more information, see Two-year Home Residency Requirement.