Rules for J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

J-1 Exchange Visitor Program Rules for Research Scholars/Professors

Purpose of the J1 Exchange Visitor Program [22 CFR Part 62.20]

  • Fosters the exchange of ideas between Americans and foreign nationals and stimulates international collaborative teaching, lecturing and research efforts
  • Provides foreign professors and research scholars the opportunity to participate actively in academic life and, upon returning home, to share their experiences and increased knowledge of the U.S.

The J-1 visa is useful for departments wishing to bring visiting professors and researchers to GMU for a limited period of time.  The Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) monitors Mason’s J-1 program.

          I.     George Mason’s policy on eligibility for participation as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar

  • Must qualify professionally for a faculty appointment – the inviting faculty member must ask whether s/he would hire this individual
  • Possess a terminal degree
  • Have a research agenda
  • Make an academic contribution to the university
  • Affiliated centers/institutes must go through the related academic department to invite a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor
  • Deans must sign all request forms

Visitors who don’t meet these conditions may come as a J-1 Short Term Scholar for up to 6 months.

       II.     Regulatory conditions affecting participation as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar

  • May not be a candidate for tenure
  • Must be proficient in English
  • Must maintain health insurance coverage for self and all dependents
  • 12 month bar - may not have been physically present in the U.S. in any J status (including J2 dependent) during the previous 12 months unless transferring in from another institution, or unless previous J-1 stay was less than 6 months
  • 24 month bar (new) on repeat participation as a Professor or Research Scholar

OIPS must examine all conditions when determining eligibility to participate as a Professor or Research Scholar.

      III.     J-1 program participation for Professors/Research Scholars

  • Minimum program duration for a Professor or Research Scholar:  3 weeks
  • Maximum program duration for a Professor or Research Scholar: 5 years 
  • The 5 year period is a continuous period given to a participant on a “use or lose” basis, beginning with the initial program begin date and ending 5 years from such date.  J1 participation at Mason may be extended as needed up to 5 years, or J1 participant may transfer to GMU from another institution during their 5 year period.
  • ***Note:  please refer all applicants to our website:
  • The 5 year eligibility window can be closed, and the remaining time lost, if the participant completes a program of less than 5 years and returns home and OIPS terminates the record.  Participants must then wait for 2 years before returning on another J1 program.
  • J-1 applicants must be supported substantially by funding from any source other than personal or family funds. Personal funds may supplement but not substitute for institutional, governmental or agency funding. Personal funds from individuals do not qualify.