J-1 Exchange Visitors


The J-1 Exchange Visitor Programis a program supervised and implemented by the US Department of State (DOS). The express purpose of J-1 programs (by law) is to promote international educational exchange of expertise and stimulating collaborative teaching and research efforts.  Exchange is truly at the core of the program and based on this philosophy and directive.

As a designated J-1 program sponsor, Purdue University hosts more than 900 exchange visitors from 78 countries around the world each year. We are authorized to sponsor and host professors, research scholars, short term scholars, specialists, and student interns. 

At Purdue University, therefore, a "J-1 Scholar" might be engage in teaching or research, be visiting Purdue to demonstrate their unique skills, or be participating in an internship to acquire new skills and knowledge. They might be arriving at Purdue  from a country outside of the United States, or they could be transfering to Purdue from another US institution where they have been admitted in J status. They generally are approved to enter the United States only for a specific purpose and only for a specific, limited amount of time.  

The US Department of State, which manages the J-1 visa classification, has very helpful information on its website here.



Each 'kind' of J-1 exchange visitor has a slightly different set of rules to follow, with a few exceptions. Following are rules that ALL J-1 exchange visitors, and their accompanying family members, must comply with-

  • J-1 exchange visitors may not, under any circumstances, accept permanent or tenure-track employment positions
  • The Exchange Visitor must have sufficient English language proficiency to have a productive experience both academically and culturally
  • J-1 Exchange Visitors and their dependents must have medical insurance that meets U.S. Department of State requirements.   The insurance must begin on the date their J-1 program begins (as listed on their Form DS-2019) and end no sooner than the date their J-1 program ends.
  • J-1 exchange visitors generally must engage in, and advance, whatever the 'program objective' is for their visit beginning on the date the program begins (as listed on the Form DS-2019). Unlike other visa classifications, it is not relevant whether the exchange visitor is in the USA or traveling abroad - there must at all times during the program dates (as listed on the Form DS-2019) continue to be progress toward the program objectives.
  • Certain J-1 Exchange Visitors may be subjected to a rule knows as "Home Residence", "Return Residence" or "212(e)" which requires the exchange visitor to return to their country of permanent residence for two years (specifically, 2 x 365 days) once the J-1 'program' is closed in the government database (called SEVIS). For more information, please see our discussion of the 212(e) obligation.

 J-1 Exchange Visitor Program Categories

J-1 Research Scholars and Professors

Professor and Research Scholar 

  • Program Duration: Three (3) weeks to five (5) years (continuous time)  
  • Primary Activity: Teaching or collaborative research.  Details are available on the State Department's websites for Professors and for Research Scholars.  
  • This category is subject to the 12- and 24-Month Bars on Repeat Participation. 
J-1 Short Term Scholars

Short-Term Scholar 

  • Program Duration: One (1) day to six (6) months  
  • Primary Activity: Teaching or collaborative research.  Details are available on the State Department's website.
  • This category is NOT subject to the 12- and 24-Month Bars on Repeat Participation, but may still be influenced by it.  
Student Interns

The Student Intern category within the J-1 classification is a unique opportunity for students who

  • are enrolled and in good standing in a degree-granting program (at any level) at an institution outside the USA,
  • want to engage in activities at Purdue that fulfill an educational objective of that degree program, and
  • will return to their home country to graduate from that degree program at some point once  the student internship is completed.

The law imposes obligations and requirements on the Student Intern category that are more detailed than for other J programs. For more details please see the State Department's website.

  • Primary Activity: work-based experience provided through "on-the-job" exposure to American techniques, methodologies, and technologies, as set forth in the student's individualized Training/Internship Placement Plan (Form DS-7002) with the host faculty member and ISS office.  Details are available on the State Department's website.
  • Program Duration: The Student Intern category may be requested for an overall duration of up to twelve (12) months.  Host departments and their student interns may select any appropriate appropriate duration for the visit within that 12-month maximum duration.
    • Note, though, that the requirement that the activities 'fulfill and educational objective of the degree program' means that the timing of internships is slightly less flexible than for other J categories. Requests for extensions will not be routinely granted.
      • Requests to 'extend' a student internship program will be processed if the student intern and host faculty member are able to demonstrate either that the original objectives where not met and thus that additional time is required, or that the additional time will fulfill additional educational objectives of the student's non-US degree program (such as by receiving additional course credit). 
      • Extensions will not be granted where the student intern has substantialy completed all their degree requirements. If the student intern has already completed all requirements needed for graduation (even if the degree has not technically been conferred), then by definition it is not possible for the extended activities in the USA to fulfill a requirement of the degree program, as required by law. 
    • The J-1 Student Intern category is complex; requests for extensions will not be accomodated if requested less than 3 weeks prior to the current program end date. 
    • Please talk with an International Scholar Services counselor if there are questions. 
  • The J-1 Student Intern must (by law) return home to graduate from their degree program at the conclusion of the student internship. It is not possible to directly move into another visa category at Purdue, or to directly move into other activities in the USA generally.   
J-1 Specialists


  • Program Duration: Three (3) weeks to one (1) year  
  • Primary Activity: Used for visitors who bring a unique skill set and often provide seminars or "master classes." Details are available on the State Department's website.  
  • This category is NOT subject to the 12- and 24-Month Bars on Repeat Participation, but may still be influenced by it.