Basics About the J-1 Visa

J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa for Non-Degree Personnel

The primary purpose of the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa is to foster the exchange of ideas between Americans and foreign nationals and to stimulate international collaborative teaching and research efforts. The J-1 visa is the easiest and quickest visa to get, but it has certain limitations which must be considered when bringing foreign faculty members and researchers to the University. For example, the J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa status is reserved for lecturers, visiting faculty, and researchers typically coming to the U.S. from abroad for appointments of five years or less and who have not been in this status within the previous 24 months (see 24-Month Bar). The J-1 Visa may not be used for tenure-track positions or positions designated as staff positions at Brandeis University.

Please note that if a foreign national is already in the U.S. in J-1 status in Professor or Research Scholar categories, the time spent at another institution must be deducted from the five-year maximum available and the work to be done at Brandeis must be in keeping with the original activities they entered the U.S. to perform at the other institution.

In addition, foreign nationals already in the U.S. in J-1 Exchange Visitor status but in another category, such as J-1 Student, are not normally eligible to change to a different category (such as Professor or Research Scholar category) within the U.S. – they would be required to leave the U.S. to process this change of category.

Additional information on the J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa is available on the U.S. Department of State web site.

J-1 visas for non-degree personnel at Brandeis University are processed by the International Students and Scholars Office. If you have any questions about J visa sponsorship, please contact J the International Students and Scholars Office, by phone (781-736-3480), by fax (781-736-3484), or via email (

Two-Year Home Residence Requirement

Many J-1 visa holders must return to their home countries upon completion of their appointments for a minimum of two years to fulfill the two-year home residency requirement of the visa. The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) can predict whether an appointee is likely to become subject to this requirement, which is based upon the appointee's country of legal permanent residence and on the source of the appointee's funding, but the State Department makes the final determination. A J-1 exchange visitor who is subject to the requirement may not change to an H-1B visa, L visa or permanent residence (i.e. Green Card) without fulfilling the home residency requirement, or arranging for a waiver (a process which can sometimes take up to nine months to complete). Information about waivers of the two-year home country physical presence requirement is available on the U.S. Department of State web site (


(For J-1 Research Scholar or Professor categories only)

In December 2006, the U.S. Department of State issued a clarification on new requirements governing the issuance of J-1 status in the Research Scholar and Professor categories.  While the rule changes did provide an increase in the number of years a foreign national may hold J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category status (increase from 3 years to 5 years maximum), it provided a limitation on the time between activities a foreign national may be able to hold J-1 Research Scholar or Professor status.

A J-1 visa holder (Research Scholar or Professor category) may pursue an activity for up to 5 years from the date of entry to the U.S. in that status.  This is an aggregate from the date of entry.

However, if a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor concludes their activity and leaves the U.S., they may NOT re-enter the U.S. in J-1 status (Research Scholar of Professor category) for at least 24 months from the date of the end of the initial activity.  As an example, if an individual comes to Brandeis University as a Postdoctoral Fellow for one year in J-1 Research Scholar category, finishes their activity at Brandeis and then returns to their home country (or another country), they may NOT return to the U.S. (to Brandeis or another institution) in J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category until they have been out of the U.S. for at least 24 months from the date they ended their initial activity at Brandeis.

While this rule does not prevent an individual from re-entering the U.S. in tourist (B-1, B-2, or Visa Waiver Tourist) status, or as a J-1 Short-Term Scholar (for activity less than 6 months of duration), this can be inconvenient to an individual who gets invited to pursue another exchange visitor activity within 24 months of the previous activity.  An individual in this scenario described above could not return to the U.S. as a Postdoctoral Fellow in J-1 status for that second period if the term of stay was greater than six months.

*IMPORTANT NOTE:  Please note that this 24 Month Bar is NOT the same as the J-1 Two-Year Homestay requirement – these are two different conditions that can affect J-1 visa holders.

For this reason, if you are inviting a scholar who has recently been in the U.S. in any visa status, but especially J-1, it will be important for the ISSO to receive documentation and verification of the period of stay in that previous visa status to determine eligibility for a new visa status to come to Brandeis.  Please feel free to contact the ISSO for further details and consultation.

Employment Considerations as a J-1 scholar

Regulations state that a J-1 scholar may work or collaborate only at the institution(s) listed on the Form DS-2019/in the J-1 SEVIS record. J-1 status does not give scholars permission to work outside Brandeis University.

Under certain circumstances, occasional, short-term lectures or consulting related to the scholar's area of research/teaching at Brandeis University may be permitted. However, such activity must be approved in advance and in writing by the ISSO after consulting the J-1 regulations. The ISSO is also required to updated the scholar's SEVIS record accordingly.