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The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) to promote the international educational exchange of expertise and to stimulate collaborative teaching and research efforts. Exchange Visitors are approved to enter the United States for a specific purpose and for a limited period of time. Therefore, DOS will not allow an Exchange Visitor to change category and limits the length of time in the U.S. to minimum and maximum time periods.

UNC-Chapel Hill is designated to sponsor scholars in the following categories of the Exchange Visitor Program:

J-1 Category Description
Professor and Research Scholar Participants in these categories are limited to a 5-year stay. They are appropriate for scholars who are engaged in research, teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting. Scholars may be sponsored for J-1 status in these categories if they have either a master’s degree in the field to be pursued at UNC-Chapel Hill or a bachelor’s degree with extensive experience in the field.
Short-Term Scholar This category is intended only for short-term collaboration and exchange. The maximum duration for this category is 6 months. No extension is possible.
Specialist This category is intended for participants who are expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill. The maximum duration of this category is one year. No extension is possible.

Scholars should read the entire Certificate of Eligibility (Form DS-2019 page 1 and 2) carefully to be sure they understand all the conditions governing Exchange Visitors. Particular attention should be directed to page 2, items 1(a) and 1(c).

24-Month Bar for J-1 Research Scholars and Professors

An individual who participates in the Exchange Visitor Program as a Research Scholar or a Professor will be subject to a 24-month bar on repeat participation in those categories after the completion of their program.

This rule applies in two situations:

  1. If the researcher or professor completes the five year program at one or more sponsors; or
  2. If the researcher or professor completes the program before the five year end date. The five years is not an aggregate number and must be used all at one time.

 12-Month Bar

DOS regulations published in April 1996 prohibit Program Sponsors from issuing a Form DS-2019 to individuals to begin a new program as Professors or Research Scholars who have been in the United States within the previous 12 months as a J-1 Exchange Visitor.