The length of time you may remain in the United States on exchange visitor status is determined by the general limitations for the category and the length of time needed to complete the exchange objectives. These limitations apply to the total length of stay as an exchange visitor. USCIS allows exchange visitors an additional grace period of 30 days to prepare for departure from the United States. It is important to be aware that the exchange activity and any related employment are permitted only until the ending date on the Form DS-2019. During the additional 30 days your status will be much like that of a tourist in that you may remain and travel in the U.S. If you transfer from one program sponsor to another, you cannot use that transfer to prolong your stay in the United States beyond the limitations of the pertinent category.
Limitations of Stay for J-1 Students
The duration of status or length of time permitted for participation in a program is different for a student engaged in a degree program and a student engaged in a non-degree program. The ending date on the Form DS-2019 controls the ending date of authorized stay. Except for non-degree students, a student’s stay in the United States could continue uninterrupted from the first year of a bachelor’s degree program through the third year of postdoctoral training, provided the responsible officer has filed notification of extension and granted academic training and other authorization as required by the regulations. Degree students are authorized to participate in an exchange visitor program as long as they are "studying at the post-secondary accredited educational institution listed on their Form DS-2019", are "pursuing a full course of study", and are "making satisfactory advancement towards the completion of the academic program". Duration of status may continue for non-degree students for a total maximum stay of 24 months, as long as they are participating full-time in a prescribed course of study and meet the criteria described.
Professors and Research Scholars
The Form DS-2019 may be issued initially for the period of the exchange up to a maximum of five (5) years for professors and research scholars. Under certain circumstances extensions may be granted.
A short-term scholar is defined as a professor, research scholar, specialist, or a person with similar education or accomplishments who is coming to the United States on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills at research institutions, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited educational institutions, or similar types of institutions. Examples include educators, scientists, research fellows, writers, and museum administrators.
A short-term scholar is permitted to participate in activities such as conferences, workshops, seminars, and other events if these activities are stated on his or her Form DS-2019. The maximum duration of stay is limited to six (6) months.
A specialist is an "individual who is an expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill coming to the United States for observing, consulting, or demonstrating special skills". The exchange of specialists promotes mutual enrichment and furthers linkages among scientific institutions, government agencies, museums, corporations, libraries, and similar types of institutions. "This category is intended for exchanges with experts in such areas, for example, as mass media communication, environmental science, youth leadership, international educational exchange, museum exhibitions, labor law, public administration, and library science." Maximum duration of stay for a specialist is one year.
Any Exchange Visitor wanting an extension of stay beyond the original appointment must do so prior to the expiration of the current DS-2019. For exchange visitors who are not enrolled students, the sponsoring department must submit a "J-1 Scholar Program Extension" eForm through the iStart database at least 5 days prior to the DS-2019 expiring. Proof of insurance (insurance card and copy of the policy) meeting the regulations must also be supplied at the time of extension for those not covered by University Benefits. Enrolled students need to submit an "Extension of Program" eForm through their iStart record. A UC International Services advisor will review the documents and schedule the exchange visitor for an appointment if everything is in order.
- Exchange Visitors in the Professor or Research Scholar category have a maximum stay of five (5) years.
- Short-Term Scholars have a maximum stay of six (6) months.
- Specialists have a maximum stay of one year.
- Non-degree students have a maximum stay of (2) two years.
- Degree Students do not have a maximum stay limitation. They are permitted to extend for as long as necessary to complete the program of study provided they are studying full time and making good academic progress.
Be sure that the Exchange Visitor has the amount of time you are requesting left.
Effects of Waivers on Extensions
No exchange visitor who has received a favorable recommendation from the DOS for a waiver of the two year Home Residency Requirement will receive a program extension beyond the date of the current DS-2019 form, even though the exchange visitor may not have completed the maximum time in their category. The DOS considers an exchange visitor’s filing of a waiver application as evidence of his or her intent to abandon their exchange visitor program participant status. Accordingly, the DOS no longer considers the exchange visitor a bona fide J-1 participant. Professors and Research Scholars present in the U.S. for six months or more for a particular project will not be allowed to return to the U.S. as a J exchange visitor for at least 12 months. This includes J-2 spouses of Professors and Research Scholars.