How to Invite a Scholar

Inviting an international scholar to UCSF as a visitor, an exchange scholar, or an employee is governed by U.S. immigration law and regulations and UCSF policy. The decision on which visa type to choose is dictated by many factors in addition to the immigration law and regulations and UCSF policy. In determining a non-immigrant visa or immigrant visa, the following questions should be considered:

  • What is the purpose to bring the scholar? Is it a short-term visit? Is it for a collaboration between two institutions? Is it a long term research or teaching position?
  • Who will provide financial support for the scholar? Is it the scholar’s home institution or government? Is it UCSF? Is it personal funding?
  • What kind of plan do the department and the scholar have? Does the department intend to extend the appointment in future? Does the scholar have any plans to stay in the U.S.?
  • Does the scholar have a spouse who is interested in working?
  • What visas did the scholar have in the past?
  • How soon does the department intend to have the scholar start?

With those questions in mind, let’s look at the most frequently used visa types at UCSF and the purpose of each type:

Short-term visits

B-1 for Business Travel is suitable for short-term visits, less than 90 days, with no salary or compensation, for the purpose of lab observation, business meetings and conferences, training, medical clerkships, or one-time lectures. If the foreign national will conduct research, the B-1 is not appropriate. Please see below for alternatives. Note: In accordance with immigration law, UCOP disallows honoraria and/or incidental expenses from more than five institutions or organizations in the previous six-month period. See our page on how to bring in a visitor on B-1/B-2 or WB/WT status for more information on this visa.

F-1 Optional Practical Training is a type of employment authorization for F-1 students to put what they learned at school into practice in the field of their studies. It has one year limit for most of F-1 students.

J-1 Short-term visa is proper for visiting scholars with proper credentials coming to UCSF for between 3 weeks and 6 months, for the purpose of conducting research and teaching, lab observations, and collaborative research. Academic appointments must be made at 100% time.

Long-term appointment

H-1B is a temporary non-immigrant status which intends to hire international scholars to conduct research and teach longer than one year. It has a maximum of six years duration. H-1B can only be used if it is an academic appointment with a UCSF salary. The most often used titles are Postdoctoral Associate, Specialist, Research, Professor and Adjunct, and Clinical Professor series. H-1B may also be used to support eligible clinical residents and fellows who have passed all steps of the USMLEs.

J-1 Research Scholar visa can be used for those who come to UCSF for more than six months for the purpose of research, teaching, postdoctoral training, and collaborative research. The maximum program duration is five years without the possibility of extension. The source of funding can come from a variety of sources such as government, UCSF, the home institution, international organization, or personal funds. Academic appointments must be made at 100% time.

J-1 Alien Physician (ECFMG) is a status for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) participating in a graduate medical training program.  IMGs participating in ACGME accredited or an ABMS recognized training program are required to be sponsored in this category by the Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

J-1 Student Non-Degree is a status for an individual engaged in a prescribed non-degree academic program with a specific educational objective. Such a course of study may include classroom instruction, and research projects.

O-1 is for the individual with an extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, and/or athletics. UCSF only supports O status for faculty or researchers who possess a minimum of a PhD, MD or equivelent, when no other visa status is available. O-1 visas may be issued for up to three years intially and must be renewed annually after the third year. Because it is a temporary non-immigrant status and employer specific, it is only used if UCSF provides financial support and the application must be filed by the UCSF ISSO. For information on how to apply for O status, please send e-mail to [email protected].

E-3 is for Australian temporary workers to be employed at a professional level which can be obtained for two years at a time and extended without maximum limit.

TN, based on the NAFTA agreement, is a non-immigrant category for Canadian and Mexican citizens to be employed in a professional field. It can be granted for up to three years at a time and extended without maximum limit. Please see our How to Apply for a TN Visa site for more information on the application process.

The information above is intended to provide the department a quick guide to have some preliminary assessment in determining a non-immigrant visa. Because of its complexity, we strongly urge you to consult with ISSO to make a proper choice of visa for the incoming scholar.

International Undergraduate Research at UCSF

UCSF can only sponsor unpaid international undergraduates in the J-1 Student Non-Degree category.  Please see the description for the J-1 Student Non-Degree category above.