International faculty and staff are integral to the Elon community and visiting scholars and faculty are crucial in the life of academic institutions. The experience and diversity of knowledge you share continues to help Elon become an active member of the global academic community. The information below will help guide you through the process of living in a different country and serve as a guide to any questions you might have.
General Immigration Information for International Faculty and Staff
General Immigration Information
Elon University can assist departments in bringing over visiting international scholars or researchers to campus. Employing departments should be aware that a certain category (of visa) may be more appropriate for a given visitor than the other.
Visiting scholars should come to the United States on appropriate visas. The USCIS will deny most applications for change of status for people who state one intention before they enter the United States and then immediately “develop” a different set of intentions after their entry.
The US Congress recently passed legislation (November 1998) to allow the payment of expenses and honoraria to visiting scholars in “B” or visitor status, but that arrangement is for a single event or short series of events (master class/lecture/demonstration) and is limited to 9 days and the payment of an honorarium and expenses, not salary.
At the time of this writing, the USCIS has not published regulations to put these new honorarium rules into effect. Until we have those regulations, a department that wishes to bring a visiting scholar to Elon University and pay that scholar an honorarium should use the J category. Check with the payroll office to see what their policy is during this interim period.
Please note that visitors from many European countries, as well as Japan, can enter the United States with no visa at all. These entries are “visitor” entries and CURRENTLY preclude payment of honoraria. Consult the Payroll Office for more information.
Be aware that Elon University assumes a major responsibility when sponsoring an international scholar. faculty, or staff member. We must be certain that our sponsorship is extended for purposes which are consistent not only with the University’s goals, programs and immigration laws, but also with the goals and intent of State Department’s Exchange program. That responsibility rests with the departments and the individual faculty members who invite foreign scholars and request University sponsorship.
Elon University, like many other US institutions of higher learning intends to recruit the best and brightest among qualified non-immigrants in order to respond to the needs of its various academic programs in the Arts and Sciences and outstanding professional programs. To that end, Elon University, which “adheres to and believes in equal opportunity for all applicants without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, veteran status, disability or any other characteristic protected by law, is eager to petition on behalf of any qualified foreign national faculty or staff for work authorization. The following is a summary of visa categories that Elon University has been relying upon over the years to legally employ international faculty or staff:
|VISA CATEGORY||EMPLOYMENT ELIGIBILITY|
|F-1||When the faculty/staff has been authorized for employment by the Designated School Official based on a Curricular Practical Training or by the Department of Homeland Security with an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) based on Optional Practical Training.
~ See the staff at GEC for more information.
|H-1B||This is a temporary work visa for specialty occupation worker rendering services ONLY to a specific employer. Honorariums not permitted. Compensation for other services unrelated to employment not permitted. Nonimmigrant status. Appropriate for temporary long- term employment (up to 6 years), or possibly permanent appointments.|
|This visa category is employer-specific as designated by RO (Responsible Officer) for permissible activity or training incidental to status. Nonimmigrant status. Appropriate for temporary employment (up to 5 years). ~ See the staff at GEC for more information.|
|O||This visa status is intended for a small group of persons recognized internationally or nationally for their extraordinary ability in sciences, art, education, in business, motion pictures, athletics, and television.|
|TN||This temporary work visa was created ONLY for citizens of Canada and Mexico as NAFTA professionals to work in the United States.|
|B-1/B-2 and WB/WT||This category is intended for visitors.|
Of course, based on each situation, there are other visa categories that can be explored to meet the need of a given department.
We strongly encourage the departments, schools and supervisors to consult with the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center to find ways and means of meeting their needs.
Below are further details on the above visa categories of temporary work visas:
The information provided on these webpage does NOT include visa issuance fees levied at US Consulates/ Embassies from foreign nationals when applying for a US visa. Non-immigrants seeking entry into the United States of America should visit the Department of State’s website at www.travel.state.gov to obtain a current list of visa issuance procedures.
The term “visa” refers to the visa stamp in your passport, not your I-20 or DS-2019 form. All non-immigrants (except Canadians) entering the US in F or J status are required to obtain the appropriate entry visa.
When you enter or re-enter the US, the visa stamp in your passport must reflect your current visa status (F or J) and must be unexpired. Also, if the visa has a limited number of entries, it must have a remaining valid entry available on the intended date of reentry to the US
If there are entries left on the visa, the visa should remain valid for re-entry until its date of expiration. However, students and scholars should consider the chance of unexpected need for a later re-entry, for example, due to weather delay.
If the visa stamp in your passport has expired and/or does not have a remaining valid entry available, and automatic revalidation of your visa is not possible, you must seek and obtain a new visa in order to re-enter the US
Canadian citizens generally are not required to possess a visa stamp to enter the US and may enter the US with valid I-20 or DS-2019 and proof of Canadian citizenship if entering by land or a passport if traveling by air as of 01/23/2007.
Automatic Revalidation of Visa
For non-immigrants with expired visas, trips to Canada or Mexico may not require a new visa application. This benefit is called “automatic revalidation of visa.” Currently, the automatic revalidation of visa benefit allows certain non-immigrants with expired visas to reenter the US after a 30-day or less visit to “contiguous territory.”
Contiguous territory is considered Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands including Saint Pierre, Miquelon, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territory or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea.
Citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba are not eligible for the automatic revalidation benefit and would be required to have a valid visa for re-entry from contiguous territory.
Any non-immigrant who applies for a new US visa while traveling in “contiguous territory” is not eligible for automatic revalidation benefit. Thus if you apply for a visa in Canada and are denied, you are not allowed to re-enter the US under the automatic revalidation benefit.
To re-enter the US under the benefit of automatic revalidation of visa, you must:
- Only travel to Canada/Mexico/adjacent islands for less than 30 days and not travel elsewhere
- Maintain and intend to resume your nonimmigrant status within the authorized period of admission
- Carry your Form I-94, your currently valid I-20 or DS-2019, and valid passport with expired visa
- Not apply for a new visa during this trip.
- Not be from a country that is currently designated by US as a State Sponsor of Terrorism
- For more information, refer to US Department of State Public Notice: Change in Automatic Revalidation of Visa Benefit.
Applying For a New Visa
If you need to obtain a new visa to re-enter the US, you should be prepared for a potentially lengthy wait and complex visa application procedures which sometimes require an in-person interview at a US Consulate abroad. Depending on your particular circumstances, you may decide not to travel and avoid the risk of a visa delay or a visa denial.
Students and scholars are recommended to apply for visas at the local US Consulate with jurisdiction over the home residence. Although it is possible for students and scholars to apply for visas at US Consulates in Canada, Mexico, and other countries worldwide, the risk of denial may be higher in these cases.
If a visa denial is received when a student/scholar applies in another country, the applicant is required to return directly to the home country to reapply at the local US Consulate. If denial or visa delay occurs, the applicant may not return to the US before receiving a new visa.
The most common reason for visa denial is “failure to demonstrate ties to the home country.” For more information, refer to the Non-Immigrant Intent section.
Resources and Tips
- It’s a good idea to read about the procedures and practices of the consulate where you plan to apply for your new visa before you travel. See this US Department of State listing of Links to US Embassies and Consulates Worldwide.
- Check the estimated US visa wait time to get a visa appointment and the estimated US visa processing time to receive a visa at a specific consulate or embassy. Keep in mind that this time period does not include a security check.
- We encourage you to apply for your visa as early as possible during your trip and allow ample time for the visa approval process to return to the US Students and scholars beginning new I-20 or DS-2019 programs may be issued visas up to 120 days before the program start date.
- Refer to Ten Points To Remember When Applying For A Non-Immigrant Visa (from NAFSA, Association of International Educators).
- The following resources will provide you with a list of generally required documents for your visa application at a US Consulate.
All F and J visa applicants must complete and submit Forms DS-156 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application) and DS-158 (Contact Information and Work History for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant).
All male non-immigrant visa applicants between the ages of 16 and 45 – and others at discretion of consular official – must also complete and submit a DS-157 (Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application)
All applicants for an F or J visa are required to demonstrate their intent to return to their home country following the completion of their academic programs. The burden is on the visa applicant to prove ties to the home country and establish “non-immigrant intent”. There are several ways you can be prepared to support your intent to return home in your visa interview:
- Have a few sentences in mind that express how you intend to use your degree or research at home after your finish your program.
- Bring copies of deeds to any property (land, house, apartment) that you or your family owns in your home country..
- Bring bank statements of any accounts that you or your family maintain in your home country
- If you have an employer who intends to employ you when you return home, bring a letter from that employer.
You can read information from US Department of State about the requirement to demonstrate ties to your home country. In addition, you can find new, positive US Department of State guidance given to consular officials regarding interpretation of students’ situations and “ties to home country”.
Refer to Ten Points To Remember When Applying For A Non-Immigrant Visa (from NAFSA, Association of International Educators)
During any visa application to the US, you may be subject to additional security and background clearances due to your citizenship or ties to specific countries, your field of study, or other reasons which are not publicly known. Delay in issuance of the visa may result as consular officers seek mandatory security advisory opinions from federal agencies on your background. Clearance may take several weeks to several months and no circumvention of the process is possible on grounds of US national security.
Citizens of certain countries may be subject to increased scrutiny and security clearances. Although the US Dept. of State has declined to release the list of countries on national security grounds, it is thought to include Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Nationals or citizens of Cuba and North Korea are being subjected to increased scrutiny as well.
In addition, the US Department of State may be required to conduct a security clearance if you work in high technology, engineering, or the sciences. You should be prepared to be questioned closely about the details of your research. It may be helpful, if you are working in such fields, to have your department advisor or supervisor write a letter briefly detailing in laymen’s terms, the nature of your work/research and, if applicable, noting that the technology is not for military use. This letter will not deter a security clearance, but it may expedite the clearance.
The US Department of State’s list of sensitive technology fields requiring security clearance (called the Technology Alert List) is no longer public. You can get an idea of what may be on the list by using the Technology Alert List version from 2002. Use this as a guideline only.
You can also reference this outdated, but possibly relevant information published by the US Department of State regarding security check procedures.
International students, exchange students, scholars, and international faculty are governed by regulations of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). For purposes of immigration law, your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the period of your approved stay in the US. Check your passport expiration date and get an extension if you need one as soon as possible in order to maintain your legal presence. Use the directory of foreign embassies and consulates in the US if you need to locate your embassy/consulate to renew your passport or request any other service.
When the faculty/staff has been authorized for employment by the Designated School Official based on a Curricular Practical Training or by the Department of Homeland Security with an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) based on Optional Practical Training.
See the staff at GEC for more information.
H-1B Status: Non-Immigrant Workers in Specialty Occupations
The H-1B status has been commonly used by American universities in hiring foreign professors, researchers, and non-teaching staff members. Its advantages include a six year maximum period of stay, its lack of a prohibition on application for permanent residence in the United States, and its short processing time relative to processing of an application for permanent resident status.
According to federal regulations, persons in H-1B status will perform services in a specialty occupation which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge with attainment of a baccalaureate or higher degree (or its equivalent), as a minimum requirement for entry into the occupation in the United States. Applications to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for H-1B status must be accompanied by a Labor Condition Application certified by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). A $500 “anti-fraud” fee must be paid for initial H-1B employment with an employer along with the regular application fee of $320. Both fees are to be paid by the employing department, not by the employee in any form.
Persons in H-1B status may be allowed to remain in the United States for a maximum period of six years after which they would be required to leave the United States for at least one year before returning in H-1B status again. The initial H-1B period can be applied for up to 3 years with the possibility of extension for a total period of 6 years. Universities are not subject to the annual cap on the number of available H-1B visas. The petitioner (employer) is required under DOL regulations to pay return transportation if the H-1B worker is terminated prior to the end of H-1B status. Applicants for permanent residence may be eligible under certain circumstances for more than six years in H-1B status.
An application for H-1B status should be expected to take at least 4 months or more unless premium processing is requested and an additional fee of $1,000 is paid. If the prospective employee is outside the United States, additional time should be expected for the H-1B visa application at a U.S. consulate.
Applications for H-1B status at Elon University are solely initiated by a Dean, a Chair or a supervisor of the employing unit at the University. Please contact the Director of International Student and Faculty Scholar Services at the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center.
If your spouse or child (residing inside the United States) is applying as a dependent family member, you must also provide the following:
- Form I-539 completed and signed by spouse (or eldest child, if spouse is not applying). This form may be found at www.uscis.gov.
- Supporting documents required for dependents include copies of passport biographical pages, I-94 cards, proof of relationship (i.e., marriage/birth certificate) and copies of all documents in previous status.
J-1 Status: Exchange Visitor
This visa category is employer-specific as designated by RO (Responsible Officer) for permissible activity or training incidental to status. Nonimmigrant status. Appropriate for temporary employment (up to 5 years).
See the staff at GEC for more information.
O-1 Status: Persons of Extraordinary Ability
This visa status is intended for a small group of persons recognized internationally or nationally for their extraordinary ability in sciences, art, education, in business, motion pictures, athletics and television.
The O-1 non-immigrant status is intended for the very small group of persons who have reached the very top of their field of endeavor. This includes those who have achieved and sustained national or international acclaim for extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts and education and who might come to the University as researchers, professors or artists. Others in business, athletics, motion pictures and television may also be eligible.
The first way to demonstrate “international acclaim” is to receive a Nobel Prize or other major, internationally recognized award of equal stature. Alternatively, evidence can be presented that an individual meets at least three of eight criteria.
These criteria include:
- National or international awards in the field
- Published materials in professional journals or major media concerning the individual’s work in the field
- Membership in associations requiring recognition of outstanding work in the field
- Evidence of acting as a judge of others’ work in the field
- Evidence of original scientific contribution of major significance in the field
- Evidence of authorship of scholarly articles in the field
- Evidence of employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation in the field
- Evidence of commanding a high salary within the field
The O-1 application is a high priority application intended to provide a fast and easy way to bring leading figures in a field to the United States. The main problem is in gathering the quality and quantity of documentation required to support the application. Because of the high standard of evidence of eligibility, the O-1 status is used infrequently.
O-1 status can be granted initially for up to three years with yearly extensions thereafter. There is no maximum period specified.
TN Status: NAFTA
This temporary work visa was created ONLY for citizens of Canada and Mexico as NAFTA professionals to work in the United States.
This type of employment authorization is a temporary employment for citizens of Canada and Mexico as NAFTA professionals to work in the United States. Permanent residents, including Canadian permanent residents, are not able to apply to work as NAFTA professionals. This category is regulated by the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS).
The following are required for entry into the United States in TN status:
- Proof of Canadian or Mexican citizenship, (Canadian Landed Immigrants are not eligible for TN status);
- A letter from the employer providing details as to the specific duties to be performed in the United States showing that the person’s activities will be within one of the listed fields for TN status. College teachers having at least a baccalaureate degree are one of the listed groups (if the position carries a minimum degree requirement, it should be stated in the letter, e.g., “this position requires a Ph.D. degree in Music Performance”);
- Evidence of the professional credential (the original diploma or a certified copy);
- Documentation (an employer letter) of the employment agreement offering the position for a three-year period and providing terms of compensation;
- A statement in the employer’s letter that the purpose of the entry to the United States is temporary (this is “temporary” in the immigration sense that the TN status is a nonimmigrant, not a permanent status, and therefore, that the employment is for a period of time consistent with the individual’s immigration status; if the position is a teaching position which normally extends to a specific date with the possibility of extension, it should be stated as such. For example, “the position of Assistant Professor is offered for the period September 1, 1999 to August 31, 2000. The period may be extended by mutual agreement.”
- A filing fee of U.S. $50
Canadian Entry Requirements:
The documentation is presented to a U.S.-Canadian preflight inspection facility or a U.S.-Canadian port-of-entry inspection facility. No TN visa (stamp) required.
Mexican Entry Requirements:
The documentation including a submitted Nonimmigrant Visa Application is presented to a U.S. consulate to apply for the required TN visa.
Upon Entry into the US:
U.S. immigration will issue a form I-94 marked for “TN” status and multiple re-entries with an end-date for status in conformity with the end-date of employment as provided by the employer. TN’s are eligible to extend TN status on a yearly basis an unlimited number of times; however, the intent of a TN under immigration law must continue to be to stay in the U.S. for a temporary period of time, and then to leave the U.S. Only non-immigrants in the H-1B status are currently allowed by law to have dual intent: permanent intent as well as temporary intent. Additional information is available at travel.state.gov.
TN status is being granted for a period of 3 year and there is no limit on how long an individual can extend their stay in TN status. It is important to remember though that the TN is not for permanent residency.
B-1/B-2 and WB/WT Status: Visitor Visas
Visitor Visa Statuses: B-1/B-2 and WB/WT Statuses
B-1 Visa Status:
The B-1 category is used for persons who wish to enter the United States to engage in temporary business or professional activities related to their employment or business abroad. The main intent for this visa type is that it’s for business purposes. To be eligible for the B-1 visa, Elon University must provide evidence that shows the purpose of the trip, intent to depart the United States, along with arrangements made to cover all costs involved with the trip.
B-2 Visa Status: (Tourist/Visitor)
The B-2 classification is used for visitors who wish to come to the United States temporarily for pleasure. B-2 and WT visitors are NOT permitted to engage in employment of any kind while in the U.S., nor are they permitted to receive any other type of payments or reimbursements other than academia honoraria under INA §212 (q).
WB/WT Statuses: (Waiver for Business/Waiver for Tourism)
If a person is from one of the countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program, then a B-1or B-2 visa is NOT needed, instead they may enter the United States in “visa waiver” status for 90 days or less. A WB (Waiver Business) is a waived visa for business purposes. A WT (Waiver Tourist) is waived for tourist purposes.
B-1/B-2 and WB/WT:
As a general rule, the B-1/B-2/WB/WT category is NOT intended for employment in the United States. Visitors in this status are not permitted to engage in any kind of employment while in the U.S. However, certain reimbursement and honorarium are permitted IF they occur because of a legitimate B-1/B-2 or WB/WT activity.
The Department of State website provides information on the current countries that participate in the US Visa Waiver (WB/WT) program. This website is the best place to find updates and additions to the VWP List.
Note: President Bush recently announced that the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia will be admitted to the Visa Waiver Program soon. However, the United States must still complete certain internal steps required by statute before these countries can be included in the VWP. At the present time, citizens of the above countries continue to require a U.S. Visa for travel to the United States.
Canadian Visitors & Permanent Residents of Canada:
Citizens of Canada traveling to the US for temporary business or pleasure/vacation do not require a visa. They enter the USA in a status similar to WB/WT status. Permanent residents (aka landed immigrants) of Canada must have a nonimmigrant visa unless the permanent resident is a national of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), meets the VWP requirements, and is seeking to enter the U.S. for 90 days or less under that program.
Mexican Visitors & Permanent Residents of Mexico:
Citizens and permanent residents of Mexico, traveling to the US for temporary business or pleasure/vacation, generally must have a nonimmigrant visa or Border Crossing Card (also known as a “Laser Visa”). The Border Crossing Card, Form DSP-150 is a biometric, machine readable card that is a combined visitor B1-B2 visa/Border Crossing Card. Select Border Crossing Card.
Citizens of Bermuda:
Citizens of the British Overseas Territories of Bermuda traveling to the US for temporary business or pleasure/vacation reasons lasting no more than180 days, do not require a visa.
Special Notes for those on B-1/WB Status:
Visitors in B-1/WB status are allowed to receive reimbursements for travel and incidental expenses or per diems related to the B-1/WB activity. Note that the total amount of such payments cannot exceed what is “reasonable” as a business expense.
Visitors receiving honoraria may only be engaged in the academic activity for nine or fewer business days, AND the visitor may not have received honorarium payments from more than five academic institutions in the past six months. This requirement is generally known as the “9-6-5 rule.”