J-1 Visa Professor and Research Scholar Program

J-1 Visa Professor and Research Scholar Program

The exchange of professors and research scholars promotes the exchange of ideas, mutual enrichment, and links between research and educational institutions in the U.S. and foreign countries. It provides participants with the opportunity to engage in research, teaching, and lecturing with their American colleagues; to participate actively in cross-cultural activities with Americans; and ultimately to share with their countrymen their experiences and increased knowledge of the U.S. and their substantive fields.

The maximum duration of professor and research programs is five years unless the participant is directly sponsored by a federally funded national research and development center, or a U.S. federal laboratory (Program Serial G-7).


Participants in the professor and research scholar programs are subject to the following conditions:

  • Must not be a candidate for a tenure track position
  • Cannot have participated in and completed a professor or research scholar program within the last 24 months preceding the beginning date of their new program’s commencement
  • Cannot have participated in a J-visa program for all or part of the 12-month period immediately preceding the start date of a professor research scholar program unless they meet one of the following exceptions:
    • The participant is currently in a professor or research scholar program and is transferring to another institution in the U.S. to continue their current J-1 program
    • The participant’s prior physical presence in the U.S. on a J-visa program was less than six months in duration
    • The prior participation was as a short-term scholar.
  • Have the education and credentials necessary to carry out the activity for which they are entering the U.S.
  • Have sufficient proficiency in the English language to function in an English-speaking environment.


  • Professor:
    This category is for participants whose primary purpose is teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting at accredited post-secondary institutions, museums, libraries, or similar types of institutions.
  • Research Scholar:
    This category is for participants whose primary purpose is to conduct research, observe, or consult in connection with a research project at research institutions, corporate research facilities, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited academic institutions, or similar types of institutions.

Unless disallowed by the sponsoring organization, a professor may also conduct research, and research scholars may also teach or lecture. This will not be considered a change of category. A responsible officer may allow such incident diversion of activities, so long as they are directly related to the objectives of the participant’s program and do not delay its completion date. However, if you want to change from a short J-1 researcher to a long-term J-1 researcher, or a J-1 student from a J-1 researcher, some sponsors may require you to obtain a new visa and re-enter the U.S. before allowing you to change your status.

Sponsor Responsibilities

Sponsors are required to:

  • Screen and select foreign nationals to further education, research, and exchange initiatives
  • Monitor the visitor’s stay in the U.S. and ensure that they are progressing in the work being performed or the research being conducted
  • Ensure that they are involved in cross-cultural programs where they can learn about the U.S. and its people.

Bar on Repeat Participation

Potential participants are subject to a 12-month or 24-month bar from participating in other J-1 exchange programs. Please note that these bars are different from the two-year residency requirement required under INA 212(e) for certain J visa recipients.

12-Month Bar on Repeat Participation

The 12-month bar prohibits foreign nationals from beginning a new program in the research scholar or professor category if they were in the U.S. on a J visa (either as a J-1 primary or as J-2 dependents) for all, or part of, the twelve-month period immediately preceding the date of the new program’s commencement. However, this is void if they meet one of the following exceptions:

  • Exchange participants who are currently participants as a professor or research scholar and are transferring to another institution in the U.S. to continue their current J-1 program
  • An exchange visitor participant whose prior J status (physical presence in the U.S.) was less than a 6 month duration
  • Participants in the short-term scholar category.

24-Month Bar on Repeat Participation

Exchange participants who have completed their professor or research scholar program are not eligible for participation as a professor or research scholar for a period of twenty-four months following the end date of said program participation. This is identified in SEVIS, and applies even if the program is less than five years.

If the participant completes a program at one institution, which is less than five years (e.g. 4 years), the participant has the option to have the current program extended up to the maximum duration of five years, transfer to another institution for one additional year, or return home and fulfill the 24-month bar.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?


For visitors, travel, student and other international travel medical insurance.

Visit insubuy.com or call +1 (866) INSUBUY or +1 (972) 985-4400