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How long may I stay on my J1 visa?

Table of Exchange Visitor (J-1) Period of Stay Limitations  

Maximum Period of Stay
Alien Physician 7 years, with possible extension
Au Pair 1 year, with extension to two years, upon approval
Camp Counselor 4 months
Government Visitor 18 months
International Visitor 1 year
Professor* 5 years
Research Scholar* 5 years
Short-term Scholar 6 months
Specialist 1 year
High School Student Minimum one semester; not to exceed one academic year
Student (degree program) Amount of time needed to complete degree
Student (non-degree program) 24 months
Summer Work/Travel 4 months
Teacher 3 years
Trainees 18 months, with exception of flight trainees who may stay for 24 months

Please click here for detailed information on Extension of J Program.

Two-year Rule

What is the "Two-Year Rule"?

This means you are subject to Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality, as amended (INA), the "two-year rule" means you must reside and be physically present in your country of nationality or last legal permanent residence for an aggregate of at least two years following departure from the U.S. before you are eligible to qualify for an immigrant visa or permanent residence status, fiancé/fiancée (K) visa, a nonimmigrant skilled worker (H) or an intra-company transferee (L) visa.

It is important to note that only a preliminary finding of whether the "two-year rule" applies to you is made on your DS-2019 when your J visa was issued. The final decision is made only when/if you choose to apply for an H1, L1, K1 or immigrant visas.

Can the "Two-Year Rule" be Waived?

Waivers of the "two-year rule" are adjudicated only by the Department of State's Visa Office. This Visa Office is also the final authority on whether an applicant is actually subject to the "two-year rule," regardless of whether or not it is annotated on your visa.

If you are subject to the "two-year rule" requirement, you may be able to obtain a waiver. For more information, please visit the Department of State's waiver information page at  You may download DS-3035 (J-1 Visa Waiver Recommendation Application) form here.

How Long am I Permitted to Stay in the U.S. After my Program has Ended?

The initial admission of an exchange visitor, spouse and children may not exceed the period specified on Form DS-2019, plus a period of 30 days for the purpose of travel. The 30-day grace or travel status period is intended to be a period following the end of the exchange visitor’s program and is to be used for domestic travel and/or to prepare for and departure from the U.S., and for no other purpose.

How Do I Extend My Stay?

Those exchange visitors who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on their DS-2019 should review the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs information: Adjustments to the J-1 Status.



Updated: November 1, 2011