Understanding the 12-Month and 24-Month Bars
The U.S. Department of State has implemented regulations that prevent repeat usage of some J Exchange Visitor categories. These regulations are called the 12 and 24 month ‘bars’.
These bars are entirely separate from the ‘Two Year Home Residency Requirement,’ where some J visa holders must return to their home country before being able to move to other types of U.S. visas, such as the H-1B.
Individuals who have been in the U.S. for more than six (6) months within the last 12 months in J-1 immigration status are not eligible to enter the U.S. as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor for a 12-month period.
The only exception is the J-1 Short-Term Scholar category, which does not count towards the 12-month bar.
The 12- month bar does not prevent individuals from returning to the U.S. in a different immigration status (F-1, H-1B, O-1, etc.).
Individuals who participate in the J Exchange Visitor program in the Professor or Research Scholar categories are subject to a 24-month bar on "repeat participation" in that same category. Scholars subject to the bar may not return to the U.S. as a J visa holder in the Research Scholar or Professor categories for a 24-month period.
The 24-month bar occurs regardless of the duration of the program. Whenever the Exchange Visitor ends his or her academic appointment and returns home, the bar goes in effect. The Exchange Visitor will again be eligible for the J Research Scholar or Professor category after being out of that status for 24 months.