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Is there a lifetime 5-year limit on a J-1 status for foreign professors or research scholars?

By November 17, 2022Immigration
A professor teaching math on a board

A foreign professor or research scholar may participate in another J-1 exchange program even after having stayed the maximum 5 years in one program, if more than two years have passed since the completion of the last program.

Therefore, it is important to note that the 5-year limit, which governs the maximum length of time a professor or research scholar can work at a U.S. institution for a single visitor program, is not a lifetime limit, but a single-program limit.  The rule is that a professor or research scholar must wait two years, following the completion of his or her first program, before participating in a new professor/research scholar program. 22 C.F.R. 62.20(i)(2).  This means, as long as the professor/researcher has not completed another J-1 professorship/research program within the previous two years, he or she will be able to apply for a new J-1 visa for a new professorship/research program.

Applicants are also ineligible if they have been physically present in the United States on a different J-1 status for more than six months within 1-year period immediately preceding the start of the new program.

There are different limitations for each J-1 visa category. For example, for trainees and interns who seek a J-1 visa, the maximum duration of such program is 18 months for trainees and 12 months for an intern.  Trainees may apply for a new training program after having resided outside the United States for two years or more since the completion of their last program. Interns may apply for a new internship program if it is for a different field of expertise or associated with the next higher level of study, and meet the eligibility criteria for the new internship. They may also apply for a training program if they have lived outside of the United States for more than two years since the completion of their internship.

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