Office of International Students and Scholars

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Guidelines for Academic Units Hosting International Faculty/Scholars



Academic departments may host an international scholar (exchange visitor) in the following categories:

PROFESSOR/RESEARCHER (from six months up to five years)
- is someone who is engaged in this program for the purpose of teaching, conducting research, or both.  The maximum stay in this category is five years that must be used consecutively in a non-tenure track position.

- is someone who is participating in a USD program for six month or less.

NOTE: For questions relating to foreign nationals filling tenure track faculty and permanent positions, please contact our Human Resources Office.


  1. Complete an application form for Request for DS-2019, Certificate Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (Note: The hosting department must complete the DS-2019 Request Application, not the international scholar.)
  2. For paid positions: A teaching/payment contract is required. 


    For non-paid positions: prepare an invitation letter for the visit

    The invitation letter must state the following:

    • Name of the hosting department
    • Name of USD faculty member serving as host
    • Duration of the visit: Beginning and end dates
    • Purpose of visit (research topics)
    • Title of the position
    • Office space available to the exchange visitor, if any
    • Party responsible for funding the exchange visitor's health insurance* (if the exchange visitor is expected to cover his own medical insurance expense, it must be clearly noted in the letter)

    Note: Invitation letter must be signed by the Dean or Department Chair

  3. Present evidence that the exchange visitor has adequate English skills to function as a visiting scholar
  4. Proof of funding (applies whether scholar is USD-funded, self-funded, or other institution-funded)
  5. Submit all the above documents to OISS for review and DS-2019 issuance (we are in Serra Hall 315)

The following is a Frequently-Asked-Questions (FAQ) guide on how academic units or department heads can extend an invitation to or host international faculty, visitors, or researchers to the University of San Diego for official business.


What is the appropriate visa to bring an international visitor to teach, conduct research, do a presentation or participate in a comference?

Before the proper visa category for an international visitor can be determined, the academic department must first figure out the answers to the following questions:

  • What activities will the international visitor be engaging in during his stay?
  • Is the international visitor going to be paid/compensated for his activities at the university? If so, how is he going to get paid?
  • What is the expected length or duration of the visit?
  • If the international visitor will engage in paid activity, what would be the classification of his employment (temporary vs. tenure-track)?

The type of visa used in different categories is closely tied to the circumstances above.

What are the visa classifications most commonly used to bring international visitors to the university, and when are they appropriate?

There are 3 visa categories that may be used by an international visitor to conduct official business at the University of San Diego, namely, the J-1, H-1B, and B-1 visas.

Most international visitors will require a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa to teach, conduct research, do a presentation, or participate in a conference.

To determine whether a visitor may be suitable to receive a J-1 Visa, the following must be established:

  1. That the visitor will be teaching and/OR conducting research that will take place for a period of MORE THAN NINE (9) days
  2. That the visitor possesses adequate English skills
  3. That the visitor has credentials available to prove qualifications
  4. That the visitor is not subject to any of the J-1 participation bans
  5. That the visitor is NOT going to be placed in a tenure track position

For more information on how to bring in a visitor on a J-1 visa, please see our J-1 Guidelines.

What are circumstances that require an H-1B Worker Visa?

If the position being offered is a tenure-track faculty and/or a permanent position. The H-1B visa requires Labor Certification.  If this is the case, please contact our Human Resources Office.

What are instances when a visitor may come in on a B-1 Temporary Business Visitor Visa?

If a visitor will be at the University rendering service for no more that NINE (9) days, he or she may just come to USD on a B-1 visa, especially if the visitor has already been previously granted an unexpired B-1 visa.

The specific purposes for the B-1 Temporary Business Visitor Visa are as follows:

    • Engage in commercial transactions, which do not involved gainful employment in the United States;
    • Negotiate contracts;
    • Consult with business associates;
    • Litigate;
    • Participate in scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions, conferences, or seminars; or
    • Conduct independent research.


If the visitor has yet to receive a B-1 visitor visa, he or she must provide evidence to the US Consulate that shows the purpose of the trip, an intent to depart the Unites States, and that arrangements have been made to cover the costs of the trip.  Persons traveling to the US. on business can present a letter from the US business firm indicating the purpose of the trip, the bearer’s intended length of stay and the firm’s intent to defray travel costs.

Can I reimburse or grant per diem expenses payment to a B-1 visa holder?

Visitors in B-1 status are allowed to receive reimbursements for incidental expenses or per diem related to their B-1 category.  The total amount of such payments cannot exceed what is “reasonable” as a business expense.

Can I pay an honorarium to a B-1 visa holder?

Visitors in B-1 status may receive “academic honoraria” payments and payments for associated incidental expenses lasting no longer than 9 days at any single institution.  There are some types of payment that CANNOT be characterized as “honoraria,” including wages for teaching a course or research.

We have put together a DIAGRAM to simplify the determination for scholar visa type by time and pay. If you have further questions/concerns, please contact OISS.

For more information on the process of sponsoring a visiting professor or scholar, you make contact (619) 260-4598 to make an appointment with either Responsible Officer (RO) Chia-Yen Lin, or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) Rhona Reyes.