Visiting Scholar Sponsorship

J-1 Scholar Visas can be granted for a maximum stay of 5 years, and can be used for the following types of positions:

  • Post-Doctoral appointments (grant or state-funded)
  • Faculty or administrators coming pursuant to an exchange agreement
  • Academics and professionals coming to fill visiting positions (e.g. visiting instructors)
  • Self- or government-funded visiting academics (e.g. colleagues coming to collaborate on research, academics on sabbatical, etc.)
  • Foreign graduate students at institutions abroad coming to W&M or VIMS to conduct dissertation/thesis research

To be eligible for sponsorship in a J-1 scholar category, the foreign national typically must hold the equivalent of a bachelor's degree or higher. Exceptions exist for renowned artists, musicians, and performers. Learn more about the categories available at W&M and VIMS.

J-1 Visa (DS-2019) Request Process

Step 1: The department/sponsoring faculty member initiates the process through iStart

  • The department will need a Banner ID Number for the scholar. If the scholar will not be employed at W&M/VIMS, the department should request W&M Affiliate Banner ID. If you have problems requesting the W&M Affiliate Banner ID, please refer to these instructions.
  • The department/sponsoring faculty member will then have two forms to complete, which will request information including the dates for the scholar's time at W&M/VIMS, and the upload of an invitation letter (doc).
  • For detailed instructions on how to submit a J-1 scholar request in iStart, see J-1 Scholar iStart instructions (pdf).
  • Once the department/sponsoring faculty member has completed its part in iStart, the department chair will receive an email from iStart to sign off on the request.

Step 2: After the department has initiated the process, the visiting scholar will receive an email to complete biographical and funding forms through iStart. They will also need to upload the following documents to iStart:

  • copy of passport identity page (including for any dependents)
  • CV
  • research abstract or plan
  • documentation of funding (if not solely W&M or VIMS funded)

Step 3: Once steps 2 and 3 are done, the Reves Center issues a DS-2019, prepares a Pre-Arrival packet (includes  J-1 visa application instructions, etc.) and sends it to the scholar.

Step 4: The scholar applies for a J-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in his/her country. Spouse and children may be issued DS-2019s to apply for J-2 visas.


There are no fees that the department must pay.

  • SEVIS Fee ($180): This government fee may be paid either by the department or by the scholar. If the department wishes to pay, the Reves Center will assist with the process. Typically, departments only pay this fee if the scholar will be employed by William & Mary.
  • Visa Application Fee ($160): This government fee is always paid by the scholar.  
  • From the time Reves Center receives a complete request (all documents from department and scholar) it takes 3-5 days to issue the DS-2019 and send it to the scholar.
  • From then one should plan 2-4 weeks to secure the visa. Administrative processing (security checks) at the embassy or consulate can add several weeks to that timeline.

Contact Emily Bailey.