J-1 Exchange Visitor Categories at UCB

Prospective J Scholars

A prospective J scholar must be invited by an academic department or lab who will serve as their host. For more information about Visiting Scholar and Visiting Student Researcher policies and procedures, see Visiting Scholars and Postdoc Affairs.

J-1 Exchange Visitors at UC Berkeley will generally be placed into one of the following J Exchange Visitor categories:

Research Scholar

An individual concerned primarily with conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project and is also allowed to teach or lecture. The Research Scholar category:


An individual concerned primarily with teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting. J-1 Professors may also participate in departmental research. If the Exchange Visitor will be here primarily to conduct research, the Research Scholar category above is more appropriate, even if the individual is a professor in their home country. The Professor category:

Short-Term Scholar

A professor, research scholar, or a person with similar education or accomplishments coming to the United States on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills. The Short-Term Scholar category:

  • is appropriate for appointments of 21 days to 6 months in length
  • cannot be extended beyond 6 months
  • NOT subject to the 24-month rule on return visits as a J-1 Research Scholar
  • may be subject to the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement
  • may enroll in or audit up to one course but primary activity must be research

Student Non-Degree

An individual engaged in a prescribed academic program with a specific educational objective. Such a course of study may include classroom instruction, and research projects. Exchange Visitors can participate in the Student Non-Degree category for no more than 24 months. May be subject to the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement. Scholars in the Student Non-Degree category must have at least 51% of their funding from a non-personal source.

Degree-Seeking Student

An individual who has been admitted by the university to obtain a degree. Exchange Visitors in this category can extend their stay in the U.S. until they complete their degree objectives as long as they maintain valid status.  See details here for Degree-seeking Students. May be subject to the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement.

Changing J-1 Exchange Visitor Categories

J-1 Exchange Visitors are not allowed to change to a different J-1 category within the U.S.; a change of J-1 category is possible by departing the U.S. and re-entering in the new category. However, there are many risks associated with this process. Speak with an Advisor in the Berkeley International Office if considering a change in program objective.