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Visiting Scholar Sponsorship

William & Mary values the exchange of ideas, people, research, and culture as central to its mission of furthering human knowledge and understanding.

Aligned with this mission, the Office of International Students, Scholars & Programs (ISSP) administers the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program at W&M and VIMS. Through the W&M Exchange Visitor Program, we bring students and scholars from around the world to advance the internationalization of learning, teaching, research and community engagement at W&M and to promote mutual understanding among people of diverse backgrounds.

Participating in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program at W&M and VIMS requires a visiting sponsorship by a department or unit.

drop down list of process for j1 visa
J-1 Scholar Eligibility

To be eligible for sponsorship in a J-1 scholar category, the individual typically must hold the equivalent of a bachelor's degree or higher. Exceptions exist for artists, musicians, and performers.

Learn more about the J-1 scholar categories available at W&M and VIMS.

J-1 Visa (DS-2019) Request Process

Step 1: Review Responsibilities of the Inviting Academic Department to ensure that your department can fulfill these responsibilities.

Step 2: Obtain a Banner ID Number: The department will first need a Banner ID Number for the scholar. If the scholar will not be employed at W&M/VIMS, the department should request a W&M Affiliate Account.

  • When requesting a W&M Affiliate Account, it would be important to list the name as it appears on the scholar's passport, as they may have difficulty getting a campus ID card if the name differs.

Step 3: The department initiates the process through iStart

  • For detailed instructions on how to submit a J-1 scholar request in iStart, or for initial access if you have not used iStart before, see J-1 Scholar iStart instructions (pdf).
  • You will need the scholar's Banner ID number to complete the request.
  • Complete forms in iStart.
    • Log into iStart using your W&M ID and password
    • Once in iStart, click on Departmental Services (on left sidebar), Select Add New Person and complete that form.
    • Return to the Departmental Services option and select J-1 Scholar Request
    • Complete the forms titled:
      • J-1 Program Information, and upload the employment offer letter or an invitation letter (doc).
      • J-1 Scholar Information (this form will ask you to provide the scholar's email where they will receive an email to complete their forms)
      • J-1 Scholar Fee Form
  • Department Chair sign off: 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 4: Visiting scholar completes their forms in iStart:

  • 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 completely W&M or VIMS funded)
  • Please note that federal law also requires that all persons in J-1 and J-2 (dependent) status maintain adequate health insurance for the duration of their stay in the US.

Step 5: ISSP issues DS-2019 (J-1 Visa Eligibility Certificate)

  • Once steps 2 and 3 are completed, ISSP issues the DS-2019 document, and emails it to the scholar, along with instructions on how to apply for their J-1 visa.

Step 6: Scholar applies for J-1 visa at US embassy/consulate

  • The scholar applies for a J-1 visa at a US embassy or consulate in their country. Spouse and children may be issued DS-2019s to apply for J-2 visas.
Funding Requirements, Health Insurance, and Fees
  • Funding Requirements: All J-1 scholars must show adequate funding for their time at William & Mary or VIMS. This is a US government requirement. If the scholar will be paid by the university, that can count as proof of funding.
  • Health Insurance: Federal law requires that all persons in J-1 and J-2 (dependent) status maintain adequate health insurance for the duration of their stay in the US.
  • International Visiting Scholar Fee: A one-time fee of $350 is charged as part of the J-1 visa document request process in iStart. If the scholar needs J-2 visa sponsorship for a spouse and/or children, $75 will be charged per dependent.
    • The International Visiting Scholar Fee is usually paid by the scholar but sponsoring departments may offer to cover the cost of the fee.
    • W&M and VIMS employed scholars (e.g., international house fellows, post-doctoral researchers and visiting faculty with teaching appointments) are exempt from the fees.
  • SEVIS Fee and J-1 Visa Application Fee: These are government fees that the scholar needs to pay to apply for their J-1 visa to enter the US.
Estimated Timeline
  • From the time the Office of International Students, Scholars & Programs (ISSP) receives a complete request (all documents from department and scholar) it takes several business days to issue the DS-2019.
  • ISSP will then email the DS-2019 document to the scholar.
  • The scholar will then apply for their J-1 visa at a US embassy or consulate. For estimated times, see Visa Appointment Wait Times. Please note that visa processing times can often fluctuate. Administrative processing (security checks) at the embassy or consulate can add several weeks to that timeline.

Contact Emily Bailey.