|J Visa 5 Year Rule and 24 Month Bar
Q: What is the 5 year rule?
A: Previously, international visitors and employees on J visas could only stay 3 years in this status (unless they were subject to the 2 year home residency requirement). Now they can stay up to 5 consecutive years.
Q: What is the 24 month bar?
A: The 24 month bar is the duration of time that prohibits the return of international visitors or employees on J visa status to the US, after their visit on J status is completed and their SEVIS record is closed.
Q: How do the new J regulations affect COE?
A: The good news is J visa holders can stay in this status for 5 years. However, breaks in J visa status will make international visitors and employees subject to the 24 month bar. Faculty, researchers, and administrative staff will need to be aware of funding constraints and how that impacts international employees and visitors on J status. Unless an employee or visitor has another job offer, which would allow them to continue without a break (either at UC, the labs, or industry), they will be subject to the 24 month bar. Once the SEVIS record is closed, J visa holders cannot return on J status for 2 years.
Q: What if the visit or employment of a scholar is for a short period of time? Are they still subject to the bar?
A: There is a J status for temporary short term visits which exempts a visitor or employee from the 24 month bar. However, this is only good for six months with no extension.
Q: What about visitors who come once or twice a year for short visits?
A: Using the temporary short term J status is recommended. However, to avoid potential abuse of this status, SISS plans to monitor repeat requests. If there isn’t enough time between visits, this option may not be allowed in certain cases.
Q: What is the difference between the 2 year home residency requirement and the 24 month bar?
A: The 2 year home residency requirement is for those scholars whose home government supports their visit to UCB and/or the scholars home country has a shortage of scientists in the scholar’s particular field. Those who are subject can work a maximum of 2 year in the US and are required to return home for 2 years before they can return to the US on a J visa again. NOTE: Waivers to the two year home residency are often granted (contact SISS directly for information on this option).
The 24 Month Bar applies to all J visitors, even those who are not subject to the 2 year home residency requirement, who conclude their visit to UCB and return to their home country (regardless of how many years they are here – up to a maximum of 5 continuous years). Once their SEVIS record is closed, they are barred from returning for 24 months in J status. There are no waivers to this bar.
Q: Will employees and scholars on J visas be allowed to travel outside the US without being subject to the 24 month bar?
A: Yes. They will be able to travel as before and will not be subject to the bar, if their visa status and UCB appointment are current (check with SISS before your J scholars or employees travel). If the SEVIS record stays open, they will not be subject to the bar.
Q: What happens if a J-1 scholar, who has a long term appointment at UCB, needs to go back to his home country for an extended stay, but plans to return to UCB to continue working?
A: Call ERSO HR Operations to determine the best course of action.
Q: What about using H-1B visas to avoid the J-1 24 month bar?
A: Whether an H-1B is considered appropriate to the kind of appointment requested is still at the discretion of Associate Dean for Research. Please contact ERSO HR Operations for an assessment of eligibility. Requests will still be considered on a case by case basis. However, Visiting Scholars, Postdocs, and Visiting Students through the VSPA program are not eligible for H-1B status, since the H requires full time UCB employment, a prevailing wage (determined by the Department of Labor), and a specific benefit packages.
Q: How will these new J visa regulations change the way UCB appoints visitors and employees on J-1 visas?
A: Proper recruitment practices and appointment procedures will continue to be followed for all appointments and reappointments for paid employees as well as non-paid visiting scholars and students. It is very important to plan ahead and have sufficient lead time to avoid appointment delays and breaks in service which can occur from- waiting too long to request appointments, preparing VSPA applications, exceptional PTRs, search waivers, and/or submitting incomplete cases. Additionally, funding issues need to be resolved to ensure the continuation of employment for whatever duration is needed to complete research projects.
Q: What if funding to appoint a J-1 visitor is pending (the check is in the mail)?
A: Approval of academic research positions are based on funding availability. Proof of sufficient funds for the duration of all appointment requests is a requirement and must be secured prior to any application for employment or VSPA affiliation. If funding is questionable, or will be delayed, it is best to delay the visit of a J-1 visitor until confirmation of sufficient funds to support the appointment are guaranteed.