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Visiting Scholar Sponsorship

Special Considerations In Hosting Scholars: Support needed for both 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
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: 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 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.
  • 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 the employment offer letter or 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: ISSP issues DS-2019 (J-1 Visa Eligibility Certificate)

  • Once steps 2 and 3 are complete, ISSP issues the DS-2019 document, 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 US 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 (accurate as of March 2023):

  • SEVIS Fee ($220): This government fee may be paid either by the department or by the scholar. If the department wishes to pay, ISSP will assist with the process. Typically, departments only pay this fee if the scholar will be employed by the university.
  • J-1 Visa Application Fee ($160 - will increase to $185 May 28, 2023): This government fee is always paid by the scholar directly to the US embassy.  
  • J-1 International Scholar Fee ($350): This ISSP fee is for visiting scholars who are sponsored by the university 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, including post-doctoral research appointments, international fellows, lecturers, and visiting instructor/professor appointments are exempt the fee. Their dependents are also exempt the fee.
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 days to issue the DS-2019.
  • ISSP will then email the DS-2019 document 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. Please note that visa processing times can often fluctuate.

Contact Emily Bailey.