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Visiting Scholar Sponsorship


Visas: Routine visa services are suspended at some U.S. embassies, however, many embassies are allowing applicants to schedule visa appointments. Please check embassy websites for the most up-to-date information.

Travel Alerts: Please refer to COVID-19 FAQs for International Students & Scholars for additional information on travel.

Special Considerations In Hosting Scholars: We encourage you to consider carefully whether or not your department has the resources needed when hosting potential scholars during the pandemic. Host departments must be be able to offer partial to full in-person activities for their visiting scholars. Support needed is both for during their program, and also as they finish, such as if they have difficulty exiting the U.S.

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 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: 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).
  • 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 W&M Affiliate Banner ID. If you have problems requesting the W&M Affiliate Banner ID, please refer to these instructions.
    • When requesting a Banner ID, 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.
  • Complete forms in iStart.
    • Go to iStart
    • Click on Administrative Services for University Departments and log in with your CAS
    • Under Departmental Services (on left sidebar), Select Add New Person and complete that form.
    • Return to Departmental Services and select J1 Scholar Request
    • Complete the forms titled J1 Scholar Information, J1 Scholar Fee Form, J1 Program Information, and upload an invitation letter (doc).
  • 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 3: 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)

Step 4: Reves Center issues DS-2019 (J-1 Visa Eligibility Certificate)

  • 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 5: Scholar applies for J-1 visa at US embassy/consulate

  • 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. Below are fees that the scholar will incur:

  • SEVIS Fee ($220): 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.
  • J-1 Visa Application Fee ($160): This government fee is always paid by the scholar directly to the US embassy.  
  • J-1 International Scholar Fee ($300): This fee is charged to visiting scholars who are sponsored by W&M for J-1 visas. There is also a fee of $75 per dependent (spouse/child) sponsored for J-2 status. This fee is paid by the J-1 Scholar by credit card through Touchnet, during the J-1 visa document request process. Those employed by W&M in .5 FTE positions and higher, including post-doctoral research appointments, language house fellows, lecturers, and visiting instructor/professor appointments are exempt the fee.
  • From the time Reves Center receives a complete request (all documents from department and scholar) it takes several days to issue the DS-2019 and send it to the scholar.
  • From then one should plan 4-6 weeks to secure the visa. Administrative processing (security checks) at the embassy or consulate can add several weeks to that timeline.

Contact Emily Bailey.