Extending Your Stay, Changing Status, and Future Appointments

Some scholars may extend their permission to stay and work at MIT. You are permitted to remain in the United States until the end date shown on your visa document (such as the Form DS-2019 or I-797) or on the most recent I-94 admission record or admission stamp in your passport.  The expiration date of your visa stamp is not relevant in this respect. If you seek a longer affiliation, discuss this with your supervisor or department headquarters several months in advance. Scholars who have registered with the ISchO are entered into the ISchO's database, and we send a reminder to your department 4-6 months in advance of the expiration of current appointment or document end date, whichever comes first. It is important for your department to complete the requested information so we may issue the appropriate instructions and any necessary document or withdraw your file from our records.

If you are in J-1 visa status, refer to the end date of your Form DS-2019 rather than your I-94 record or admission stamp. Permission to work at MIT and to leave and reenter the United States in J-1 status ends as of the end date on your DS-2019 or the last date of your appointment, whichever is earlier. This date is followed by an automatic 30-day grace period during which you may remain in the United States. Applications for extension of stay must be submitted before your authorized stay expires. See How to Extend Your J-1 Status.

Each nonimmigrant status has an associated time limit: 5 years for J-1 scholars in the Research Scholar or Professor category, 6 months for J-1 scholars in the Short-Term Scholar category, 6 years for H1-B scholars, and 1 year at a time with annual renewals for TN scholars. Individuals on F-1 Practical Training and J-1 Academic Training are also authorized to work only for a specific period of time.

If you think you may wish to remain on appointment at MIT for longer than the limit that is allowed in your current nonimmigrant status, it is crucial for you to talk with an ISchO staff member well before your authorized stay expires. A change of status may be possible, but requires careful advanced planning. Those in J-1 status should inquire about options more than one year in advance.

  • The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA) imposes strict penalties on people who overstay their nonimmigrant status (the period for which they are authorized to be in the United States). It is important to avoid this situation and seek any necessary assistance from the ISchO. When applying for a new visa stamp abroad, be prepared to demonstrate the purity of your immigration record. Generally, the term "overstay" refers to a person who has stayed in the United States past the expiration date of the Form I-94 or other applicable document. If a person completes or otherwise interrupts the activity for which he or she was admitted earlier than the end date on the applicable document, the relevant date is typically the completion date.

    An "overstay" suffers three consequences under this law:

    • If the person (overstayer) exits the United States, and requires a new entry visa stamp, that new stamp may only be obtained in the person's country of nationality. It may not be obtained in a third country. For people whose current country of permanent residence is different from their country of nationality, the visa may be obtained in the country of permanent residence.

      Even a valid visa stamp in the passport is considered to be "void" if a person has overstayed. Again, a new entry visa stamp may only be obtained in the person's country of nationality or permanent residence. This "void" provision also applies to people who would otherwise be eligible for "automatic revalidation" (exit and reentry to the United States with an expired visa) for trips to Canada, Mexico, and adjacent islands.

      Applicability of this overstay provision for those in F and J status is somewhat different from those in H, B, O, or other classifications. The ISchO can provide further guidance on this complicated regulation.

    • If a person is "unlawfully present" in the United States for more than six months, but less than a year, that person is not eligible for readmission to the United States for three years. The definition of "unlawfully present" is complex. Consult with the ISchO for further guidance.

    • If a person is "unlawfully present" in the United States for one year or more ( starting April 1, 1997), that person is not eligible for readmission to the United States for ten years.

    The ISchO is here to help clarify confusing regulations, assist you to stay in legal status throughout your stay at MIT, and, to the extent possible, help you avoid difficulties when traveling in and out of the United States. Please contact us as needed.

  • Those who are currently in J-1 (or J-2) Research Scholar or Professor categories must be aware of the 24-month bar if they anticipate returning to MIT or visiting another U.S. institution in the future under the same visa categories.

    You will become subject to the 24 month bar if:

    • You complete a full five years of J-1 (or J-2) Research Scholar or Professor program participation with one or more J-1 program sponsors.
    • You complete a particular J-1 (or J-2) Research Scholar or Professor program of ANY LENGTH, and your SEVIS record becomes inactive BEFORE the full five year period is over.

    If you are subject to the 24 month bar, you must wait at least 24 months before you may begin a new J-1 Research Scholar or Professor program. For more information, please consult an ISchO advisor.

  • Those who anticipate a return visit to MIT or another U.S. institution should also be aware of the 12-month bar. The bar prohibits a person who has been in the United States in J-1 or J-2 status, in any category, within the past 12 months from a subsequent visit in the J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category unless one year has lapsed. However, the 12-month bar does not apply if the previous stay in the United States as a J-1 or J-2 visitor was in the Short-Term Scholar category and/or was of less than 6 months duration. It also does not apply if a J-1 transfer is processed with no gaps between the two J-1 programs (not to exceed 5 years).

Page updated May 2023