A May 24, 2007, letter and table sent to NAFSA by the Department of State Exchange Visitor Program (Stanley Colvin) provided guidance on the five-year participation and 24-month bar rules for J Professors and Research Scholars, and gave updates on other SEVIS and regulatory matters.
The materials communicated the following definition of "program completion," for purposes of the 5-year eligibility and 2-year bar on repeat participation rules in the J Professor or Research Scholar exchange visitor categories:
"Completion of program activity is just that: If the exchange visitor is no longer actively participating in the Exchange Visitor Program as a Professor or Research Scholar participant then their program is completed. The status of the SEVIS records for exchange visitors who complete their program are necessarily listed as either "Inactive" or "Terminated," as appropriate. Countdown of the 12- and 24-month bars begins the day after the status of the exchange visitor's SEVIS record becomes "Inactive" or "Terminated."
In a table entitled entitled "Twelve and Twenty-Four Month Bars on Repeat Participation for J-1 Exchange Visitor Categories of Research Scholar and Professor" that accompanied the letter, DOS also stated:
"completion of program is defined as EVs who are no longer actively participating in the activities of a Professor or Research Scholar. The status of the SEVIS records for EVs who meet this definition should be listed as either "Inactive" or "Terminated" (as appropriate). Countdown of the bars begins the day after the status of the EV's SEVIS record becomes "Inactive" or "Terminated."
In a footnote in the same table, DOS also took the position that the 24-month bar likewise applies to J-2 dependents of J-1 Professors or Research Scholars, despite NAFSA’s argument to DOS that the regulatory wording does not support such an interpretation.