Here is the story.
The J-1 visa is a great program. It allows cultural exchange between countries. However, when the recipient gets “funded” by certain government or private programs, then recipient must return to his or her home country for a period of two years before being allowed to return to the United States. While I get the idea of the two year requirement, which some view as a penalty, I think it needs to be tempered by a reasonable amount of discretion rather than rigid enforcement.
Why the two year return requirement? The idea is that the cultural exchange student or visitor will benefit his or her home country by taking those things learned or experienced back to his or her home country.