Extending your stay in J-1 status

J-1 Research Scholars and Professors can remain in the US for a maximum of 5 years. The position held at UAB must remain compliant with the J-1 regulations to seek an extension.

J-1 Short-Term Scholars can remain in the US for a maximum of 6 months. No extension beyond the 6 months can be granted.

J-1 Student Interns can remain in the US for a maximum of 12 months per degree.

Please note that once the Department of State issues a waiver recommendation, we can no longer extend your Form DS-2019, so please notify a J-1 Immigration Advisor if you plan to request a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement [also known as “Section 212(e)”].

To request an extension, please contact our office at least 1 month before the current end date listed on your DS-2019. Please note that this end date is the last day you will be authorized to work on UAB campus.

  • J-1 Reappointment Form – to be completed by UAB department
  • Extension offer letter – to be issued by UAB department – the extension letter must list the new dates of appointment, the subject of the research (you should continue the same type of research you were initially conducting) and the salary (if paid by UAB).
  • Proof of Funding
    • If paid by UAB – the extension letter will serve as proof
    • If not paid by UAB – ISSS Office need updated proof of sufficient funding to support yourself and your family (if any)
  • Proof of continuous health insurance – to be provided by the Exchange Visitor for him/herself and his/her family (if any).

Once the DS-2019 is extended, you are authorized to stay in the US. You also have the responsibility to update your I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification document) with HR or our office. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information about I-9.

Leaving UAB

We will be sad to see you go! We hope your experience at UAB is positive and contributes to your successful career plans. Please contact an ISSS J-1 Immigration Advisor at least 60 days before your last day at UAB.

Two possibilities:

  • If you plan to transfer to another institution in the US – we will need to coordinate with you new institution to transfer your J-1 SEVIS record electronically
  • If you plan to return to your home country – we may need to strategize to shorten your SEVIS record if you leave before the scheduled end date. Otherwise, we will simply require to complete the following forms:

Please note that you have 30 days to close bank accounts, pack, and prepare to leave the US after the end of your research opportunity. It is also common courtesy and expected in the American professional world to notify your supervisor and/or PI at least 30 days before your last day at UAB so that they can handle necessary Human Resources matters and make arrangements to try to find a researcher to take over your work, avoiding disruption to experiment times and missed deadlines.

Transferring labs at UAB

You have been invited to UAB by a specific PI to research a specific project in a specific lab in a specific department, and that is what we represent to the US Department of State, which allows you to remain in the US. Transfers to other research opportunities in other labs or departments at UAB are rare and will be decided on a case-by-case basis based on factors such as how similar the proposed new research will be and possible detriment to ongoing work in your current lab/department if you leave. If you are experiencing an unpleasant or unfair work environment, please contact UAB Employee Relations at UAB Employee Relations or UAB Employee Assistance and Counseling. Conversations will be kept as confidential as possible. We care about your safety and comfort while at UAB.

If you plan to change lab within UAB, it is crucial that you follow these steps:

  • Contact ISSS Office as soon as possible at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;
  • Speak with your current supervisor and give sufficient notice (we recommend at least 30 days) so that the research is not disrupted;
  • Collect the necessary documentation with your new Department before you start at the new lab:
    • New International Staff Appointment Form – to be completed by the new Department
    • New offer letter – to be issued by UAB department – the letter must list the new dates of appointment, the subject of the research (you should continue the same type of research you were initially conducting) and the salary (if paid by UAB).
    • Proof of Funding
      • If paid by UAB – the extension letter will serve as proof
      • If not paid by UAB – ISSS Office need updated proof of sufficient funding to support yourself and your family (if any)

Repeat Participation bars for Research Scholars and Professors

This rule will affect your ability to repeat a participation in a J-1 Program as Research Scholar or Professor after a previous participation in a J-1 program.

Prior participation in a J-1 program may subject you to a 12-month or 24-month bar and prevent you from coming to UAB in the Research Scholar or Professor category.

No waivers are available for these bars. The bars also apply to J-1 and J-2 dependents.

12-month bar – 22 CFR 62.20(d)(2)

If you previously participated in a J-1 program in ANY category other than Research Scholar during the 12 months preceding the prospective start date at UAB, you will NOT be able to come to UAB as a Research Scholar or Professor.

The bar does not apply in 3 cases:

  • The Exchange Visitor is transferring from another institution;
  • The Exchange Visitor spent less than 6 months in the US;
  • The Exchange Visitor was in the Short-Term Scholar category.

Examples:

  • A J-1 Student Non-Degree who is in US for more than 6 months will need to wait 12 months after the program end date before he/she is eligible to return as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor.
  • A J-1 Student Intern who is in US for only 3 months is eligible to return as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor immediately following the internship program.

24-month bar – 22 CFR 62.20(i)(2)

If the prospective Exchange Visitor previously participated in a J-1 program as a Research Scholar or Professor and completed his/her program, he/she will NOT be able to come to UAB as a Research Scholar or Professor for 24 months.

Examples:

  • A J-1 Research Scholar held a postdoc position in Georgia from May 1, 2018 – May 1, 2019 and returned home after completing the program. This scholar would not be eligible to return as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor for 24 months.
  • The same J-1 Research Scholar in Georgia has been offered a postdoc position at UAB effective April 15, 2019. As long as the scholar remains active in the current program until April 15, he/she is eligible to transfer to UAB as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor immediately. After the program at UAB is complete and the scholar returns home, he/she will be again subject to the 24 months repeat participation bar.

IMPORTANT NOTE – these bars will also apply to the Exchange Visitor at the end of the UAB program.

Two-years home residency rule (section 212(e) rule)

The Department of State’s J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is designed for international scholars to come to the US for a temporary period and then return to their home country to share their new knowledge. Based on 3 criteria, some J-1 visa holders are required to remain in their home country for two years following participation in a J-1 research opportunity.

Being subject to this rule will affect your ability to change immigration status to H, L, K or Green Card status.

The 3 criteria for being subject to the two-year home residence requirement are:

  • You received financial support from the US or foreign government agency, such as CIEE, USAID, Fulbright, SACM, the China Scholarship Council, etc.
  • Your skill has been listed by their country of nationality or last permanent residence as one in short supply there
  • You are an international medical graduate who came to the US for a residency or fellowship sponsored by ECFMG

If you are subject to 212(e), you must return to your home country and remain there for two years before you can return to the US on either an H-1B employment visa or as a permanent resident.

There are a very few ways to avoid or “waive” the 212(e) two-year home residency requirement, such as obtaining a no-objection letter from your home government, obtaining a national interest waiver, or participating in a specific program to address physician shortages in the US, such as the Conrad 30 or Delta Doctors program. The UAB ISSS office does not assist with the waiver process and suggests that you retain qualified legal counsel.

Learn More About Waivers from the Department of State →