Most J-1 programs require a minimum stay of three weeks and allow a maximum stay of three years. One six-month extension can be given by the “sponsor” if the additional time is needed for the scholar to complete the purpose for which he or she originally came to the United States.
In unusual circumstances and only if certain time-consuming procedures have been started well in advance, the U.S. Department of State, which administers the J-1 or “Exchange Visitor Program,” can authorize an extension of more than six months.
If a J-1 scholar’s initial permission to remain in the United States is valid for less than three years (as it will be if the scholar application materials indicate a shorter period than three years), then an “extension of stay” for any period up to the three-year limit can be granted. This procedure requires the department to send the ISSS a completed Form for J-1 Extension of Stay.