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Maintaining J-1 Scholar Status

The J-1 Exchange Visitor nonimmigrant visa category is for individuals approved to participate in work- and/or study-based programs.  The Exchange Visitor Program promotes mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by educational and cultural exchanges.

J-1 scholars are nonimmigrants engaged in research or teaching at Caltech and JPL.  Upon admission to the United States as a J-1 scholar, the individual accepts responsibility to abide by the conditions of the nonimmigrant status.  The information provided here should serve as your guide to keeping legal J-1 status throughout your stay in the United States.

DS-2019 Validity Period

Make sure that your DS-2019 does not expire.  The expiration date is listed in Section 3 of the DS-20I9.  If you are reappointed, your international advisor will extend your DS-2019 to match your appointment period. 

I-94 and Status

Your I-94 needs to indicate "J-1" and "D/S".  If your I-94 indicates an expiration date, please contact your international advisor.

Program Duration and Limitations

The maximum period of time you can spend in the United States as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor is five years.  J-1 Short-Term Scholar programs have a maximum duration of six months.

At the end of a Research Scholar or Professor program, there is a two-year ban on repeat participation in a J program in the same categories.  This is known as the 24-month bar, which is separate from the two-year home residence requirement explained below.  There is also a 12-month bar on starting a new Research Scholar or Professor J program, if an individual has spent six months or more in the United States in J status within the previous 12 months.  See the J-1 Visa website for additional details.

Occasional Lectures and Short Term Collaborations

You are only authorized to undertake the activities described in Section 4 of the DS-2019.  Professors, research scholars, and short term scholars may participate in occasional lectures and in short term consultations, with an international advisor's prior authorization.  These lectures or consultations must directly relate to your program activities, must be incidental to your primary program activities, and must not delay the completion date of your program.  You must consult with your international advisor before you engage in any activities not described on your DS-2019.

Medical Insurance

You must obtain medical insurance coverage that complies with the U.S. Department of State requirements for individuals in J-1 status and their families. Willful disregard of these requirements will result in termination of your program and your J-1 status.

For scholars, Caltech and JPL offer medical insurance that meets the minimum requirements.  If you are not eligible for Caltech or JPL medical insurance, contact your international advisor for additional options for purchasing the required coverage.

J-1 and J-2 exchange visitors who are residents for tax purposes may be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.  22 CFR 62.14(a)

U.S. Home Address

Immigration requires that you update your local home address in access.caltech within 10 days of any move.  You must report your actual, physical location, NOT a Caltech Mail Code or P.O. Box.  JPL scholars should provide updated home address information to their international advisor.

Two Year Home Residence Requirement

Certain J-1 scholars are subject to the two-year home residence requirement.  You will be required to return to your home country for two years at the end of your exchange visitor program if any of the following conditions exist:  

Government funding.  Your program is financed, directly or indirectly, by the U.S. government or your home country's government, or the government of your country of last permanent residence.

Graduate medical education or training.  Your program is for graduate medical education or training.

Skills List.  You are a citizen or permanent resident of a country which has deemed your field of specialized knowledge or skill necessary to the development of the country, as shown on the Exchange Visitor Skills List.  

If you are subject to the two-year home residence requirement, you cannot change your nonimmigrant status inside the United States, you cannot apply for an H, L or K visa, and you cannot complete an application to become a permanent resident.   In order to fulfill the two-year home residence requirement, you must return to your home country for at least two years or obtain a waiver of that obligation.  If you are unsure if you require a waiver, you may take the  U.S. Department of State (DOS) survey.  The survey may recommend you request an Advisory Opinion, which is the final determination by DOS if you are subject to the requirement or not.

Grace Period

At the conclusion of any J program category, you are permitted to remain in the United States for up to 30 days.  This 30 day grace period is designed for domestic travel and to prepare for departure from the United States.  Your research program is no longer active during this 30 day period.   


If you wish to leave Caltech to continue your J program at another institution in the United States, you must request that your international advisor release your SEVIS record (the DS-2019) to the new institution.  Your international advisor will review the transfer request and confirm when it is complete.  The transfer request must be submitted prior to the expiration date listed in Section 3 of your DS-2019.

Document Retention

It is important that you retain all documentation pertaining to your immigration status related to your stay in the United States.  This may include current and expired passports; DS-2019s; and I-797s. These records are important in establishing your compliance with U.S. immigration laws.

Valid Passport

Ensure that your passport remains valid throughout your stay.  You can renew your passport through your home country's consulate or embassy while you are inside the United States.