Conditions and Limitations-Office of International Education - Carnegie Mellon University

Conditions and Limitations

Time limit

The total stay in the United States for Exchange Visitors in the "Professor or Research Scholar" category is limited to five years. Extensions beyond the five-year period are not possible. The total stay in the United States for Exchange Visitors in the "Short-Term Scholar" category is limited to six months. Extensions beyond that time are not possible.

12-Month bar

A person who is outside the US may not return in the J professor or research scholar category if s/he was in J status (research scholar, professor, student, trainee, etc.) for 6 of the previous 12 months. To calculate, you (1) count backwards 12 months from the (future) date of requested J status, (2) ask yourself, in that 12 month period, was the scholar in J researcher or professor status for 6 or more months of that 12 month period? If yes, the scholar may not return until more time has passed. If no, the DS-2019 document can be issued unless the 24-month bar applies. (See 24 month bar information below.)

24-Month bar

J-1 research scholars and professors who have completed their J program (as evidenced by the end date on their DS-2019) or who have reached the five year limit may not extend their stay in J-1 status. They must leave the US or change to another non-immigrant status. They are not eligible to return to J-1 research scholar or professor status for 24 months.

Once the J program has ended, this 24-month bar is applicable to J-1 research scholars or professors who have used less than a five year period of J-1 scholar status as well as to those scholars who have been here the full five year period. For scholars who use fewer than five years, the remainder of the five year eligibility period is considered to be lost and the scholar would face the 24-month bar. Therefore, it is particularly important that scholars who will be in the US for 6 months or fewer consider using the short-term scholar category. The short-term scholar category is exempt from the 24-month bar.

Note: For any J visitor who was previously and most recently in the US in the research scholar or professor category, it is most likely that both the 12-month AND the 24-month bars will apply, effectively resulting in a 24-month bar. The bars are not cumulative.

Two-year Home Residency Requirement

The J Exchange Visitor Program was created to foster learning across cultures. In some cases, rules ensure that J-1 visitors will return to their home countries after completion of the US program so that the home country will also benefit. Participants in a J program (students, scholars, professors, and researchers) and their dependent family members may be subject to the two-year home residency requirement for any of three reasons:

  • Direct funding from the home government or US government
  • Graduate medical education or training
  • The country-specific Skills List

There are two ways to fulfill the two-year home residency rule:

  • Return to the home country for a period of two years or more
  • Request and receive a waiver

To determine if a scholar is subject to the rule, check the US visa and notation on the DS-2019 from the US consular officer. If there is any concern about the correctness of the determination as marked, a scholar may consult with an Office of International Education (OIE) advisor. In very complicated situations, a scholar may request confirmation from the US Department of State.

The two-year home residency rule does not prevent the scholar from returning to the US as a visitor, researcher, student, or in another non-immigrant status during the two-year period directly following the period of J-1 status in the US. However, until the two-year home residency requirement is fulfilled, a person may not move into a more permanent work status such as H-1B or permanent residency (i.e., Green card).  Also, individuals subject to the two-year home residency requirement may not file an I-539 to apply for a change of status from within the US.  Travel is required to accomplish a change of status.

J-1 visitors who are interested in obtaining a Waiver of the two-year rule must follow a formal process. There are several bases on which to apply for the waiver including: a statement of no objection, an interested US government agency, fear of persecution, and others. Visit the US Department of State website for more information on waivers.

Health Insurance

All J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents are required by federal regulations to have health insurance meeting minimum standards. To meet the minimum standards, the health insurance selected by scholars in J status must:

  • Include medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness.
  • Include at least $25,000 worth of "repatriation" coverage to send a body back to the home country if the insured should die.
  • Include at least $50,000 for "evacuation" expenses coverage to send the insured to hospitals in the home country.
  • Include deductibles that do not exceed $500 per accident or illness.

In addition to the regulations governing J Exchange Visitors, another US law requires health insurance coverage.  Under the "Affordable Care Act (ACA)," individuals who do not maintain "minimum essential healthcare coverage" must make an additional payment to the Internal Revenue Service when they pay their taxes. Visitors in J status are exempt from this additional tax payment if they are nonresidents for tax purposes but would still be required to maintain health coverage that meets the J regulations. CMU's student and employee insurance policies meet the ACA minimum healthcare coverage requirement.  

J-1 exchange visitors who will not receive benefits from CMU may purchase health insurance that meets these minimum standards from the University Health Service. ALL J-1 exchange visitors must read, sign and submit OIE's J-1 Scholar Health Insurance Agreement to verify that they will comply with the insurance requirement. 

Purchase health insurance for yourself and your dependents, if applicable. Full-time faculty and staff who are paid by CMU are typically eligible for benefits and insurance through the university. Visiting scholars who will not receive health insurance benefits from the university may purchase the student health insurance from University Health Services, in Morewood Gardens, 1st floor, (corner of Forbes and Morewood Avenues). This insurance may only be purchased during the first 31 days of your appointment at CMU.                      

Failure to purchase and maintain Health Insurance will result in termination of J-1 status.

J-2 Dependents

J-1 exchange visitors must report the email address for each accompanying spouse and dependent to OIE. In addition, the J principal must report if their J-2 dependent(s) depart the United States prior to the exchange visitor's final departure date by emailing OIE

Handling DS-2019s

Duplicate DS-2019s
Under J regulations, CMU is not permitted to make copies of or email DS-2019s, even to the J-1 exchange visitor.

Loss or theft of DS-2019s
If a DS-2019 is lost or stolen, you must request a new document by submitting an OIE Request for Services form to OIE within 10 calendar days. 

Last updated:  December 19, 2016