Maintaining Status on a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa status

Middlebury/MIIS sponsored J-1 Exchange Visitors should comply with the U.S. federal regulations governing their specific J-1 categories.  The J-1 categories that Middlebury is authorized for are Professor, Research Scholar, Short-term Scholar, or Student (Degree or Non-Degree).  The J-1 category is indicated in section 4 of his or her Form DS-2019. The following is a summary of the responsibilities that Middlebury sponsored J-1 Exchange Visitors should have in order to maintain lawful status in the United States. J-1 Exchange Visitors sponsored by another institution or organization (Fulbright, for example) should contact their J program  advisors for additional information. J-1 Trainees or Interns sponsored by an another J-1 sponsor should abide by terms and conditions of their training programs.

NOTE: If your individual J Exchange Visitor program has requirements that are above and beyond the federal immigration regulations, then you must adhere to those requirements.

Document Check-in with the International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) office by the time you arrive to your campus. 

All new J-1 Exchange Visitors must do an electronic document check-in ISSS for themselves and any J-2 dependents in order to have their SEVIS record validated by the ISSS within 30 days of their program start date listed on the Form DS-2019. A returning J-1 Exchange Visitor with a new Form DS-2019 must also check-in with the ISSS in the same time frame.  You will receive an Arrival Email from ISSS with instructions on the information you need to provide.

NOTE: If you are being paid by Middlebury/MIIS then you must register with ISSS, first, then do the I-9 and tax forms with Human Resources and the Tax Office within the first 3 business days of the start of your contract.

All J-1 Scholars who are not students (excluding Language School faculty/staff and CNS Visiting Fellows) must schedule an appointment for an orientation with Kas Singh via our Calendly appointment system: — click on “Scholar Orientation with Kas Singh” event type.  This session takes about one hour to complete. 

J-1 students will need to participate in the relevant new student orientation usually 1 to 2 weeks before your first term will begin.  You will receive email communications sent out by Middlebury prior to your arrival with details of this event in the weeks/months before your program begins.

Maintain valid immigration documents

  • Always enter the U.S. with a valid J-1 visa and DS-2019 form during your program at Middlebury (Canadian citizens/nationals do not need to obtain a visa but need to enter with a DS-2019 for the duration of their program).
    • Do not use a tourist (B-2) visa or enter the U.S. through the Visa Waiver Program.
    • When you enter the U.S., a U.S. border official will generate an electronic I-94 arrival/departure record with the notation “J-1 D/S” (Duration of Status).  If you enter the U.S. at a land border port-of-entry, you may be given a paper I-94. Please check your documents before leaving the border crossing (or processing area in the airport) so that you can request a correction, if needed.  If you arrive on campus without the J-1 and D/S notation, please see ISSS immediately.
    • To confirm that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has entered you in the correct visa status, you can access your I-94 record online here (go to Get Most Recent I-94):
  • Have a passport that is valid at least 6 months into the future.
  • Have your DS-2019 signed by an ISSS advisor for travel each year.  If you plan to leave the U.S. and re-enter in J-1 status during your program, be sure your DS-2019 has been signed in the Travel Validation box in the lower right-hand corner of your DS-2019 by ISSS.

Please note: You should check I-94 system every time you re-enter the United States from abroad. If you find an error on your I-94 record, please contact ISSS at as soon as possible. It may take CBP up to 24 hours after your entry into the United States to update your I-94 record.

Engage in appropriate activities

Carry out the duties associated with your program at Middlebury.  If you stop carrying out the activities associated with your J-1 Exchange Visitor program prior to the program end date on your DS-2019, your J-1 status is automatically ended, and you must depart the United States.

  • Professors, Research Scholars, and Short-Term Scholars: carry out the duties stated on your contract/invitation letters.
  • Middlebury College Teaching Assistants: carry out the duties stated in the offer letter, and enroll in, attend, and successfully pass at least one course during the fall and spring semester.  J-term enrollment is optional.
  • Students: Enroll full-time as per requirements of your program and/or exchange program requirements:
    • Exchange Students must engage in a full course of study -
      • take at least three courses in fall and spring, and one over the winter term. (Middlebury College)
      • take 12-16 credits per semester for length of exchange program (Middlebury Institute)
    • Degree Students must engage in a full course of study (Middlebury Institute).  They must not take more than 3 credits of on-line courses in any one term.
    • Non-Degree Students (not on Exchange programs) must engage in the prescribed course of study for their program.
    • Teaching Assistants must take, and successfully complete, one course in the fall and one in the spring in addition to their teaching assistant responsibilities.

Refrain from off-campus employment without prior, written authorization.

  • J-1 Short-Term Scholars, Research Scholars, and Professors are required to be employed and conduct their exchange activities at the location(s) listed on their Forms DS-2019. Paid employment for J-1 scholars is permitted only if it is an integral part of the exchange program. In most cases, it is not possible for a J-1 visa holder to accept paid employment outside of Middlebury without prior authorization.  Please contact if you’ve been offered an opportunity to employed at Middlebury or another employer before accepting the offer.
  • J-1 Short-Term Scholars, Research Scholars, and Professors may participate in occasional lectures and short-term consultations at off-campus locations. Scholars must obtain prior written authorization from ISSS. Such lectures and consultations should not interfere with the activities of the exchange visitor’s program. The term occasional is generally understood to refer to single events rather than an ongoing activity. Please contact if you’ve been offered an opportunity to present a lecture or short-term consultation to ask if you can obtain authorization prior to accepting the offer.
    • NOTE: All the situations referred above must be related to the primary purpose (filed of study/research/teaching) as listed in Section 4 of your DS-2019.  Some programs may not permit off-campus employment.
  • Students (Non-degree & Degree seeking): You must receive approval from ISSS for both on-campus and off-campus work opportunities prior to engaging in work.  Some programs may not permit off-campus employment.  Please go to the Academic Training section of the ISSS website for more information.

Maintaining Required Health Insurance

J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents must maintain required health insurance including basic Medical Health Insurance, Medical Evacuation and Repatriation insurance throughout their stay in the United States. You can find more detailed information about health insurance here.

NOTE: Health insurance that meets the requirements must be maintained for all J-2 dependents even if they are not in the United States for the entire length of the program listed on the J-1’s DS-2019.

Report any Address Changes

  • Report any change of physical residence, email, and phone number within the U.S. to ISSS within 10 days of the change by submitting an Address Update form.  
  • You must report the same changes within 10 days for your J-2 dependents, if they are not living with you.
  • You must report if you are being assigned to a different site of activity than what is listed on your DS-2019 to carry out your program by sending an email to
  • Scholars and trainees sponsored by other institutions should contact their program sponsors directly regarding changes of address, too.

Program Extensions

If you would like to continue your J-1 program beyond the period of time specified on your DS-2019, you must contact ISSS by emailing for a program extension ideally at least 2-3 weeks before the program end date on your DS-2019.

Your hosting department/sponsoring program must agree to the extension and the evaluation and authorization of the extension will need to be obtained from all necessary administrative departments including but not limited to, Academic Affairs/Dean of Faculty; Human Resources; Payroll; and ISSS.

Please be aware that each category has a maximum time period, beyond which an extension is not possible (see below).  Some programs may not permit extensions even if the maximum time frame has not been met:

  • The “Short-Term Scholar” category is for a maximum of 6 months.
  • The “Professor” and “Research Scholar” categories are for a maximum of 5 years.
  • The “Student Non-Degree” category is for a maximum of 24 months.
  • The “Student Bachelors, Masters, or Doctorate” category has no maximum time length.  However, student must be maintaining status and making progress towards degree objectives.

Leave of Absence

Scholars may travel abroad throughout their stay at Middlebury. An extended leave of absence must be in accordance with their Middlebury academic appointment agreement and their original exchange program objectives. Contact ISSS by emailing regarding more detailed information on leaves of absence that may be needed during your J program.

Students should consult with their Academic Advisor or Dean (at the College), with their Program Chair or Academic Advisor (at the Institute) to understand what a Leave of Absence is and how it might impact your program of study.  Then they should consult with ISSS to learn how that might impact your immigration status.  There are different types of Leaves for Students:

International Travel During the J-Program

For travel outside the United States the following documents are required for re-entry.

  • Valid Form DS-2019 signed in the “travel validation” section by a Responsible Officer of your Exchange Visitor Program*
  • Valid J visa stamp in the passport (except for Canadian citizens)
  • Valid passport

*If ISSS issued your Form DS-2019 it must be signed in the ‘travel validation’ section by an advisor in ISSS and the signature should be no older than 12 months. If your form was issued by another Exchange Visitor Program (i.e. Fulbright, LASPAU, AID) you should contact that organization directly to obtain travel signatures.

Please contact ISSS via email at with any questions.  You can request a travel signature by emailing ISSS at

Completion of Program – Options


  • Once your J Exchange Visitor program is complete, you will need to do ONE of the following options. You can:
    • Depart the U.S. within 30 days after your program completion date on your DS-2019.  This 30-day grace period is for the purposes of tourism, and to prepare to depart the United States. Working during this time period is not allowed. Some programs may require you to leave immediately following the completion date on your DS-2019;
    • Transfer your SEVIS record to another institution within the U.S. no later than the end date listed on your DS-2019 form. You should meet with an ISSS Advisor to discuss your plans at least one month before your program end date. Please note that a transfer is not possible if you have reached the maximum time limits for your J Exchange Visitor category (see “Program Extensions” above); if you will not be doing similar work/program in a similar field at the new institution; and there can be no break in time in your J-1 status.  Please be aware that if you have been granted a waiver of the 2-year home residency requirement, you are not eligible for any J-1 benefits such as extensions, transfers, or Academic Training.  Finally, if you are J-1 student, please discuss your eligibility for a transfer with an ISSS Advisor.
    • Apply for Academic Training (FOR J-1 STUDENTS ONLY): It is requested that you apply to the ISSS office at least 1 month in advance of your program end date for authorization to engage in Academic Training post degree-completion.  Upon approval of Academic Training, an extension of your DS-2019 will be issued along with the needed authorization to engage in paid or unpaid training directed related your Middlebury College or MIIS studies or degree.  If you are interested in learning more about Academic Training, please refer to the ISSS webpage for AT.
    • Change to another visa status within the U.S.  Changing to another visa status within the U.S. requires an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It can take several months for USCIS to process these applications. If you are subject to the 2-year home residency requirement (212(e)), you are not eligible to change your status within the U.S. Consult with International Student and Scholar Services for more information.

Remember to Update Contact Information  

  • Scholars who are leaving Middlebury/MIIS need to make sure that their affiliated Middlebury departments have been informed of their departure.
  • Scholars need to update their contact information in Oracle HCM so their Forms W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement) will be mailed to their new addresses if they were paid by Middlebury.
  • Students need to update their contact information in BannerWeb so any tax forms or transcripts and such can be sent to you, if needed.

Transferring your J Program

J-1 scholars may request to transfer from one sponsor to another. In SEVIS, the transfer is processed through updates to the J-1 scholar’s SEVIS record performed by both the current J Sponsor and future J Sponsor.

A J-1 scholar who intends to move from one employer to another should discuss their plans with the Responsible Officer (RO)/Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) of both sponsors, provide official evidence of academic appointment at the new program, and decide on a specific date of transfer before the transfer out date or the end of the DS-2019, whichever is earlier.

The transfer must be completed in SEVIS by the transferring out Sponsor no later than the end date listed on the DS-2019 but the start date at the new sponsor can be within 30 calendar days from the end date listed on the current DS-2019.

J-1 students will need to contact ISSS to determine if they can transfer their J-1 program to another J Sponsor.  Please email ISSS at to ask about transferring out should you determine this might be an option.

  • Transfer from Middlebury
    • Middlebury-sponsored J-1 Exchange Visitors who plan to go to another  J sponsor should contact ISSS as soon as they decide they want to go to another institution.
  • Transfer to Middlebury
    • J-1 Exchange Visitors who are currently in J-1 status on another J Sponsor’s DS-2019 may transfer their sponsorship to Middlebury. Once the offer or admission  to Middlebury has been made, ISSS should be contacted regarding how to transfer in the J-1 record to Middlebury.

Two-Year Home Residence Requirement and Waivers

Two-Year Home Residence Requirement - 212(e)

In some cases, the J-1 visa carries with it a two-year home residence requirement which obliges visa holders and their J-2 dependents to return to their home countries for two years before being eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or a non-immigrant H, L or K visa. The requirement also makes J-1 visa holders and their J-2 dependents ineligible to change to any other visa status within the United States if they are subject to it.

Not all J-1 visa holders are subject to this requirement. The requirement applies to those individuals in one of the following situations:

  • J-1 visa holders who are funded by the United States Government, their own governments, or international organizations during part or all of their stay in the United States are subject to the requirement.
  • J-1 visa holders whose skills are needed in their home countries, as registered on the Exchange Visitor Skills List, are subject to the requirement.
  • J-1 visa holders who are graduates of foreign medical schools participating in internships, residencies, or clinical training programs in the United States sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) are subject to the requirement.

Are you subject to 212(e)?

J-1/J-2 Exchange Visitors should check both their Forms DS-2019 and J-1/J-2 visas to see if they are subject to the two year home residence requirement, 212(e). Middlebury sponsored J-1s may contact the ISSS with questions regarding whether or not they are subject to the requirement.  Please note that as a J sponsor we are supposed to encourage all J-1/J-2 Exchange Visitors subjected to this requirement to return to your country of residence to meet the requirement.

Advisory Opinion from the U.S. Department of State

In the case that there is a doubt in whether or not a J-1 visa holder is subject to the requirement; the individual may request an Advisory Opinion from the U.S. Department of State.

212(e) Waiver

J-1 visa holders who are subject to the requirement based on the information noted above and who do not wish to fulfill the requirement by returning to their home countries for two years may apply for a Waiver of the two-year home residence requirement. Please note: Before requesting an Advisory Opinion or applying for a Waiver, J-1 visa holders are encouraged to contact their ISSS advisors. Failure to inform an ISSS advisor regarding this matter could jeopardize the visa holder’s ability to secure an extension of the Form DS-2019, or the option to change into another non-immigrant status.

12- or 24-Month Repeat Participation Bar

The 12-Month Bar

Individuals who have been in the United States for more than six months in the previous year (12 months) in J visa status are not eligible to enter the United States as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor for a 12-month period. Time spent in the J-1 Short-term Scholar category does not count towards the 12-month bar. The 12-month bar applies to both the J-1 principal and any J-2 dependents. The 12-month bar does not prevent individuals from returning to the United States in any other visa status.

The 24-Month Bar

Any individual who participates in an Exchange Visitor program in the J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category on or after 11/18/06 is subject to a 24-month bar on “repeat participation” in those categories. Scholars subject to the 24-month bar may not return to the United States as a J-1 scholar in the Research Scholar or Professor category for the 24-month period. This bar also applies to J-2 dependents. The 24-month bar is not the same as the Two Year Home Residence Requirement. The 24-month bar does not prevent individuals from returning to the United States in any other visa status.

Impact of the 24-Month Bar

When a J-1 research scholar or J-1 professor either concludes or leaves a J-1 program, whichever happens earlier, the scholar’s record becomes inactive in SEVIS; thus making it impossible for ISSS to reactivate it. At that point, the 24-month bar time starts to accrue. Therefore, it is extremely important for the ISSS to be informed of a scholar’s departure from Middlebury and his/her future plans, so that the scholar’s SEVIS record can be properly maintained to facilitate his/her possible return to the United States.

Frequently Asked Questions about the 24-Month Bar for Research Scholars and Professors

Q: Can I change jobs and have a new J-1 Professor/ Research Scholar visa with a new employer within the 5 year limit?

Yes. If a J-1 professor/ research scholar leaves one employer and moves to a new job with another institution (that also sponsors J-1 visas) s/he can transfer to the J-1 program of the new employer. These scholars may keep extending and changing employers via the J-1 transfer process for up to 5 years.

NOTE: There cannot be a gap of time between employers. Scholars need to communicate to both employers their intent to remain in the United States on a J visa.

Q: What if I need to leave the United States for a meeting or conference—will I have to wait 24 months before I can return?

A: No. As long as the J-1 professor/ research scholar continues with the original Middlebury affiliation, short stays outside the United States are permitted, and do not constitute a completion of the J program.

Q: I have a J-1 Professor/ Research Scholar visa that is only valid for one year. I may stay longer if the grant is renewed for one more year. Will I have to go home for 24 months or can I extend my J visa for a second year?

J-1 professor/ research scholars may extend their stay for up to 5 years as long as there is no gap of time and the ISSS receives the requests of extension before the expiration of their current Forms DS-2019.

Q: Are the two year home residence requirement and the 24-month bar the same thing?

No. As mentioned in #2 above, the 24-month bar affects only scholars who have had the J-1 visa status in the Professor or Research Scholar categories, and who wish to use the same category again. The two year home residence requirement can be an issue for any J visa holder - not just those who have been in the J-1 Professor/ Research Scholar category.

Q: During my 24 months outside the United States, may I return to the United States for short visits?

Yes. You may return to the United States on any kind of visa, including the J-1 Short-term Scholar visa category. You are only prevented from returning on the J-1 visa in the Research Scholar/Professor category.

Rights and Protections for Temporary Workers in the U.S.

As a temporary worker in the U.S., you have a right to:

  • Be paid fairly
  • Be free from discrimination
  • Be free from sexual harassment and sexual exploitation
  • Have a healthy and safe workplace
  • Request help from union, immigrant, and labor rights groups
  • Leave an abusive employment situation

For more information on your rights and responsibilities as a temporary worker in the U.S., please read the Wilberforce Pamphlet on the Rights and Protections for Temporary Workers.

Last updated 05/23/2023 by Kas

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