Understanding the 12-Month & 24-Month Bars
When determining whether or not a person is eligible for the J-1 professor or research scholar status, a college or university must verify whether or not he or she has ever been in J-1 status before, the J-1 category (or categories) he or she has been given, and the duration of the program(s) in the United States.
The 12-Month Bar
The 12-month bar is determined by verifying whether or not the visitor was physically present in the United States as a J-1 visa holder (in any J-1 category) in the 12 months preceding the new proposed program start date.
The question being asked is: Has this person been present in the U.S. in the previous 12 months as a J-1 visa holder?
If the answer is “yes”, the visitor is not eligible for J-1 professor or research scholar status. The exceptions to the 12-month bar are:
- Transferring in J-1 status to another program
- Engaging in J-1 programs less than 6 months
- Participating in the J-1 program as a short-term scholar
The 24-Month Bar
The 24-month bar should not be confused with the 2-year home residence requirement. The 24-month bar is determined by verifying whether or not the visitor has been in J-1 professor or research scholar status in the United States in the last two years, or 24 months. If the answer is “yes”, the visitor is barred from returning to the United States in J-1 professor and research scholar statuses and must wait two years before entering the country in those two statuses. Many RO/AROs refer to this as the bar on “repeat participation.”