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J-1 Scholar Categories & Bars


UC Davis has authorization to issue DS-2019s in the “short-term scholar”, “research scholar/professor”, “specialist” and “non-degree student” categories for visitors who will conduct research, teach, observe, consult or demonstrate special skills. The following information describes the context in which a certain category should be selected. Please note, the 12-or 24- month bar* may affect eligibility for a new J program in the research scholar/professor category.


J-1 Short-Term Scholar

This category is used for visiting scholars with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and appropriate experience in the field in which research is to be conducted. This category is suitable for professors, research scholars, specialists, or a person with similar education or accomplishments coming to the United States for a short-term visit for the purpose of research, lecturing, observing, consulting, training or demonstrating special skills.

  • Program time: 1 day-6 months
  • Advantage: Category does not subject the scholar to the 12- or 24-month bars. The scholar may return to the U.S. in a J category again without a waiting period.
  • Disadvantage: Program duration in this category is limited to 6 months without the possibility of extension.

J-1 Research Scholar/Professor

This category is appropriate for visiting scholars with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and appropriate experience in the field in which research is to be conducted if the individual will come to UC Davis primarily to conduct research, observe or consult in connection with a research project. The research scholar may also teach or lecture within the same field, if the departmental appointment permits.

Important Note: A J-1 research scholar/professor who has completed a previous J status (including J-2 status) in the past might be affected by the 12- or 24-month bar. Please consult with an advisor at SISS with any questions.

  • Program time: 3 weeks-5 years
  • Advantage: The Research Scholar/Professor may stay in the J-1 program for up to 5 years, which allows sufficient time for a full postdoctoral appointment or other temporary research or teaching appointments.
  • Disadvantage: Once the research scholar/professor completes his or her program at any point up to 5 years, there is a 24-month bar that will prevent the scholar from using this category again for 24 months. In addition, if the scholar has been in any other J category for 6 months or more (for example, short-term scholar or specialist), he or she cannot use the Research Scholar/Professor category until 12 months have passed since last using the J-1 status.

J-1 Undergraduate Researcher (non-degree student)

This category is used for visiting undergraduate researchers who have not attained a bachelor’s level; who will receive at least half of their funding from a source other than personal funds; who will participate full-time in a prescribed course of study or research study toward a degree at a foreign institution; and who will maintain satisfactory advancement towards the completion of their academic program at a foreign institution while at UC Davis.

Important Note: The 12-month bar applies to J-1 Undergraduate Researchers who have been in the J program for more than 6 months. They will not be eligible to apply for a J-1 visa in the research scholar/professor category once they obtain a degree until at least 12 months have passed since the date of completing their Undergraduate Researcher J program.

  • Program time: 3 weeks-2 years
  • Advantage: This category allows undergraduates nearing a degree to do research or study toward their degree. It can be used for up to 24 months.
  • Disadvantage: Undergraduate researchers at UC Davis pay no student fees so they are not eligible for student benefits such as student health insurance, free access to the ARC, or free travel on Unitrans buses. In addition, this category is only available to non-degree students who are funded at least 50% by UC Davis, their home institution, a scholarship, or some other source of funds that is not personal funds.

J-1 Specialist

This category would be appropriate for an individual who is an expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill coming to the United States for observing, consulting, or demonstrating that special skill. This category is not intended for individuals who would otherwise be considered researchers, professors, or short-term scholars. An example might be a person with a particular and unique knowledge of a particular type of equipment who is coming to UC Davis to demonstrate the use of the equipment, observe the appropriate use by others, and/or consult on that particular piece of machinery. As the use of this status is limited to the definition above, please consult with an advisor at SISS for further information.

  • Program time: 3 weeks-1 year
  • Advantage: This category emphasizes specialized skills for which an academic degree may not be necessary. There is no 24-month bar with this category.
  • Disadvantage: This category may only be used for observing, consulting, or demonstrating a special skill, and stay is limited to 12 months without the possibility of extension. Given its limited nature, it is very important for departments to consult with an advisor at SISS to determine if this category and the duration of stay are appropriate. Note: This category has no relationship to the Junior Specialist title.

Please note: if a visiting scholar using the specialist category is a physician in his or her home country, the department and the scholar should complete the “Attachment to Request for Form DS-2019 for J-1 Physician using the J-1 Specialist category.” Please ask an advisor at SISS for this form (the form for physician specialists is not included in this packet).

Bars and impact on a future return in the J-1 research scholar/professor category

  • 12-month bar:

This limitation applies when the scholar has previously been in any J status for more than 6 months during the 12 months prior to the new program start date in the J-1 Research Scholar/Professor category. The scholar must wait 12 months after the end of any J status before beginning another J-1 program in the research scholar/professor category.

  • 24-month bar:

This limitation applies when the scholar has already completed a J-1 program as a research scholar/professor and the SEVIS record was closed. In this case, the scholar will have to wait for 24 months to return to the US using a new J-1 program in the “research scholar/ professor” category. The 2-year home residency requirement is not the same as the 24-month bar.