J-1 Scholar Categories

Non-Degree Seeking Student An individual engaged in a prescribed non-degree academic program with a specific educational objective. Such a course of study may include classroom instruction, and research projects. Exchange Visitors can participate in the Non-Degree Student category for a minumum of 3 weeks and no more than 24 months. This is the only category appropriate for undergraduate students. More information about this category can be found here.
Specialists Specialists, for J-1 purposes, are defined as individuals who are experts in a field of specialized knowledge or skill coming to the U.S. for observing, consulting or demonstrating their special skills. A specialist may not fill a permanent or long-term position of employment while in the U.S. This category is not intended for experts covered by the research scholar, professor, short-term scholar or foreign physician in graduate medical education or training categories. The maximum period of stay is 12 months.
Short Term Scholar The J-1 Short Term Scholar category can be used when the academic objective for the visit can be completed within six (6) months or less. This J category is often used for lectures, observations, consultations, or to participate in seminars, workshops, conferences or professional meetings. The J-1 Short Term Scholar category is designed for academics who reside outside the U.S. and will from time-to-time be invited for short visits. The J-1 Short Term Scholar may return to the U.S. again for a new Short Term Scholar stay providing there is a substantial break in between and each visit constitutes a new objective. Another advantage of using the Short Term Scholar J-1 category is that the visitor may also return to the U.S. for a longer term stay using the J-1 Research Scholar/Professor category without being subject to the 12 and 24 month-bars.
Professor/ Research Scholar

This J-1 Exchange Visitor category has a minimum stay of 3 weeks, and a maximum continuous stay of 5 years. The five year maximum stay for a J-1 research scholar/professor. The five year "clock" begins with the start date on the Form DS-2019 and this status remains available until the end of five years from that date or the date the J-1 program is concluded, whichever is earlier. At UC Merced, the initial DS-2019 will be issued for the duration of the academic appointment and can be extended up to a maximum of five years. However, when the program at UC Merced is completed so is the J-1 status unless the scholar transfers immediately to another J-1 sponsor.

Paid employment for J-1 research scholars or professors is permitted only if it is described on the Form DS-2019 issued to the J-1 visa holder. In most cases, it is not possible for a J-1 visa holder to accept paid employment outside of UC Merced. However, there is a provision which allows for occasional lectures, if the permission is requested and granted by OIA before the event. Please contact an advisor for details.

12 and 24 month Bars:

There are severe restrictions that make some individuals in-eligible to use the Research Scholar or Professor J-1 category. Please review the details here.