International Scholar Relations

J-1 Categories

WesternU is currently approved for the following categories of J-1 Exchange Visitors:

Research Scholar – maximum stay 5 years – minimum 3 weeks

A visiting research scholar has a Baccalaureate, Master’s degree, or equivalent degree, and is currently enrolled in a post baccalaureate program or has recently (within 6 months) completed a post baccalaureate program, or who is employed at another institution and participates in a research and/or scholarly training program under the direction of a faculty mentor. The purpose of the J-1 program is to enable the individual to gain laboratory and research experience, to learn to use state of the art techniques, and/or to share unique expertise with the Western University community. A visiting research scholar may include an individual with a terminal post graduate degree whose appointment is less than 1 year, and who engages in the activities stated above.

Professor – maximum stay 5 years

A person may be appointed as a Visiting Professor or Visiting Research Professor, a Visiting Assistant Professor or Visiting Assistant Research Professor, or a Visiting Associate Professor or Visiting Associate Research Professor. Typically, the candidate has an appropriate terminal professional degree or equivalent qualifications. Exceptions to this degree requirement may be made for persons who otherwise have extraordinary expertise, qualifications, or credentials in the field of the intended appointment. This category applies to persons who are temporarily appointed to the University while they have continuing academic appointments in another institution of higher education, or have continuing associations with business or nonprofit organizations, or with government agencies. Appointments are made while the individual is on leave from the institution, organization or agency with which he or she is affiliated.

Both the Research Scholar and Professor category are subject to the “12 Month Bar” which means that the individual must not have been physically present in the U.S. in J-1 Status for all or part of the 12 month period immediately preceding the date of the program commencement unless the participant’s presence in the U.S. was pursuant to a Short-Term Scholar exchange activity or s/he is transferring to WesternU from another insitution’s J-1 Scholar Program.

NOTE: under special circumstances, a research scholar or professor may be granted a six-month extension beyond five years. You must contact ISR to investigate the criteria for extension, if needed to complete the program.

Short-Term Scholar – no minimum up to 6 months stay – no extension

This category is appropriate for scholars with Western University appointments up to 6 months in length. A DS-2019 issued in the J-1 Short-Term Scholar Category cannot be extended beyond 6 months. The J-1 Short-Term Scholar category is a good option for scholars whose programs are short in nature and do not expect to extend to a longer visit or transfer to another J-1 program at another university. Short-Term Scholars are required to comply with J-1 Program’s regulations as they pertain to Health Insurance.

Specialist – 1 year stay – no extension permitted after one year

An individual who is coming to the United States for observing, consulting, or demonstrating special skills for no longer than one year. A DS-2019 for the J-1 Specialist Category cannot be extended beyond 1 year.

An individual is eligible for the Specialist category if s/he:

  • Is an expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill;
  • seeks to travel to the U.S. for the purpose of observing, consulting or demonstrating s/he special knowledge or skills;
  • and, does not fill a permanent or long term position of employment while in the U.S.

A Specialist can participate in the Exchange Visitor program for the length of time necessary to complete the program, not to exceed one year. Documentation of their eligibility would include:

  • Letters from peers;
  • Copies of journal publications;
  • Other clear documentation that the individual is eligible for this category.


Research Scholar vs. Short Term Scholar

It is important to understand the difference between Research Scholar and Short Term Scholar. These are two of two of several “categories” of the J visa status. They are US Department of State terms and have nothing to do with WesternU’s job title of “Visiting Research Scholar”.

If the Exchange Visitor (EV) enters the US with a DS-2019 in the Research Scholar category, s/he will be entitled to conduct research/teach for up to 5 years. However, once the EV’s program ends ISR office must complete the EV’s SEVIS record. This means that s/he would be unable to re-enter the US as a J Research Scholar or Professor for two years. The EV could, however, enter as a tourist, etc.

If ISR issues a DS-2019 in the Short Term Scholar category, while the EV will only be allowed to stay in the US for 6 months, s/he will not have the 24 month bar on returning as a Research Scholar or Professor…For example:

  • EV’s program as a Short Term Scholar ends May 31, 2009 (completion date)
  • EV returns home within 30 days of completion date
  • EV is offered an opportunity to return to the US as a Researcher in January 2010.
  • EV is elibible to enter US as a J-1 Research Scholar

If ISR issues a DS-2019 in the Research Scholar or Professor category, the EV can potentially be here for 5 years. However, sh/he will have the “24 Month Bar” on returning as a Research Scholar or Professor…For example:

  • EV enters as a Research Scholar until May 31, 2009 (completion date)
  • EV returns home within 30 days of completion date.
  • EV is offered an opportunity to return to the US as a Researcher in January 2010.
  • EV is unable to return as a Research Scholar/Professor until May 30, 2011

Therefore, in order to accept this position, EV would need to enter in a different immigration status such as H-1B.

Two-Year Home Residency (212e)

Not all J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to this requirement. J-1 Exchange Visitors who are subject to Requirement 212e, must return to their country of legal permanent residence and reside there (not in a third country) for two years after the completion of their J-1 Program or apply and receive a waiver of this requirement before they are eligible for an H-1B, L-1 or Permanent Residency (Green Card). Changes of immigrant status within the US are also not possible unless this requirement is waived. Information on obtaining a waiver of the two year home residency requirement is available at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1267.html#12

For additional information regarding approved J-1 categories, please email: J!Program@westernu.edu

 Updated:  August 2015