Duration and Extension of a J-1 Visa

Duration and Extension of a J-1 Visa


How long is the valid status for a J-1 visa?

The J program's duration depends on the program category and the J program sponsor.

The duration of J-1 status depends on the rules established by your particular Visitor Exchange Program.

The most common J-1 categories along with their corresponding lengths of stay are listed below.

  • Aviation Program Trainees; 24 months
  • Au Pair: 12 months, with the option to extend 6, 9, or 12 more months.
  • Business Trainees: 18 months
  • College Professors: 36 months
  • College and University Students: Duration of studies plus duration of practical training program following graduation. The additional months for practical training programs are 18 months for baccalaureate/masters and 36 for post-doctoral students.
  • Government Visitors: 12 months
  • International Visitors: 12 months
  • Medical Residents/Interns receiving medical training: Duration of residency program, 7 year maximum
  • Primary and Secondary School Teachers: 36 months
  • Research Scholars: 36 months
  • Specialists: 12 months
  • Summer Work/Travel: 4 months

How can I determine the time period of valid status on my J Visa? 

The valid period of your J-1 visa is the period during which you may enter and stay in the U.S.  This differs from the maximum duration of stay for your J program which defines maximum amount of time you may stay participating under your particular J program.  Your valid period may be less than the maximum time allowed in you5r exchange program.


How do I determine my current legal status in the U.S. as a J-1 Status Holder?

The Exchange Program Period determines the length of your legal stay within the U.S.  To find the dates of your approved legal stay in the U.S., check your Departure-Arrival Record.   When you entered the United States, the immigration inspection officer marked "D/S" on your Departure-Arrival Record.  "D/S" stands for "Duration of Status" and indicates the certain limited period of time for which your visa is valid.  If you are within that time period, (or in the grace period, discussed below) you are in the U.S. legally.


Does USCIS provide a grace period to legally stay in the U.S.? 

Yes, you have 30 days grace period to legally stay in the U.S. after your J status expires.

Can I extend my J-1 visa?

You may be eligible to extend your stay under the J-1 Visa if your total stay period does not exceed the maximum duration of stay for the program and your program sponsor agrees to your extension.  The J program sponsor has full discretion to extend the period within the maximum program's duration period.

The J-1 program sponsor who issued the original Certificate of Eligibility can extend your J-1 status by completing a new Certificate of Eligibility with the extended expiration date, provided the date falls within the maximum duration period and they notify the State Department of the change.  It is NOT necessary to notify USCIS.


Are J-1 Professors and Research Scholars eligible for a special extension?


J-1 Professors and Research Scholars are eligible to extend their stay for an additional six months after the three-year maximum duration period.  However, the extension must be necessary to complete a specific project or research program.  Granting the extension is entirely up to the program sponsor's discretion and no State Department or USCIS approval is required.


J-1 Professors and Research Scholars are also eligible to extend their stay via the State Department.  The State Department may authorize an extension beyond the three-year period if "exceptional and unusual" circumstances exist.  The extension request should be made with Department of State within 90 days prior to the expiration of the three-year stay period.


Transferring to Another J Visa Visitor Exchange Program

The Department of State oversees all transfers or changes of category to another J program by any noncitizen already in the United States.  Immigration laws require that a change into another program category must be “clearly consistent and closely related to the participant’s original exchange objective.”   The current and new sponsors must communicate in order to ensure that the noncitizen transfers in an uninterrupted and continuous manner.  The responsible officer in an exchange program must submit a written request with supporting justification for the change to the Department of State on behalf of the participant and submit the appropriate fee to the Department of State.

Termination of J-1 Visa

Participants in the Exchange Visitor Program are subject to the Department of State's regulations, and to the rules specified by their sponsors.   Participants found to be in violation of program regulations and/or sponsors' rules may be terminated from the program.  Nonimmigrant exchange visitors on a J-1 visa may have their visa revoked by the State Department as a result.

Other grounds for termination include, but are not limited to:


  1. Failure to pursue the exchange activities for which the participant was admitted to the United States;
  2. Inability to continue the program;
  3. Willful failure to maintain insurance coverage as required
  4. Unauthorized employment in the U.S.


Participants who are terminated from their exchange programs are expected to leave the United States immediately.  The 30 day grace period does not apply.


My Certificate of Eligibility and Arrival-Departure Record are still valid, but my visa has expired.  May I leave and re-enter the U.S.? 

You will need a new visa to re-enter the U.S.  Reapplying for a J-1 or J-2 visa may be difficult in some countries.  You can obtain a Third Country Visa at a U.S. Consulate located in a Mexican border city before you leave the U.S.

Can I apply to change to another nonimmigrant status while I am in the U.S. on the 30 day grace period provided by my expired J status visa?

No.  You cannot change to another nonimmigrant status within the 30 days.  The 30 day grace period is only for packing and leaving the United States.

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