Visiting Scholars

The University of San Diego offers a dynamic international scholar community.

Over the past few years, USD has hosted a growing number of scholars from Europe, Asia, South America, and Australia who enrich the USD community by conducting research and teaching USD courses. The increasing presence of international scholars coupled with a more vibrant faculty exchange contributes to USD’s transformation into a global and internationalized campus community.

International students with flags from various countries.

Guidelines for Academic Units Hosting International Faculty/Scholars

General Information

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.


  • For questions relating to foreign nationals filling tenure track faculty and permanent positions, please contact our Human Resources Office.
  • For international visitors who will be visiting USD for a brief duration (9 days or less) and for a limited engagement only, such as a one time guest lecture or presentation, B1/B2 Visa or VWP may be an option: Honorarium Payment

Steps/Procedures in Hosting an International Scholar

  1. Please consult with Chia-Yen Lin and Rhona Reyes to determine whether or not the prospective scholar or visiting professor is a good candidate for the exchange visit program. If it has been determined that the scholar/professor may be brought in under a J-1 visa, the hosting department will identify a point person who will be required to undergo SUNAPSIS Training with our department. SUNAPSIS is our student and scholar database case management system. The person assigned will be tasked with the administrative duties of creating a profile for the scholar or visiting professor and collecting the necessary documents, in order to issue a DS-2019, Certificate Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status.
  2. The documents below are typically required for the issuance of the DS-2019, please review carefully.

    a. For paid positions: A teaching/payment contract is required. 


    b. 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.  If the academic department will cover the exchange visitor's health insurance coverage, the academic department should communicate directly with the Student Accounts to arrange payment)

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

    c. Present evidence that the exchange visitor has adequate English skills to function as a visiting scholar
    d. Proof of funding (applies whether scholar is USD-funded, self-funded, or other institution-funded)

    *All documents will be uploaded to SUNAPSIS for OISS review.

We are pleased to welcome you to the University of San Diego!

Prospective Visiting Scholars

A scholar is a foreign national who has been invited by an Academic Department. The exchange visitor enters the United States on a J-1 visa. Any accompanying spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may apply for J-2 visas.

Please refer to our Universities academic home page for more information on our Academic Departments.

Incoming Visiting Scholars

Pre-arrival Information for a Visiting Scholar

As the hosting department, you are expected to accompany or direct the exchange visitor in completing the following steps:

  1. Set up a time to meet on campus
  2. Contact OISS to schedule an immigration check-in appointment
    • Remind the international scholar to bring: passport and Form DS-2019, and proof of health insurance (proof of health insurance must be in English), if applicable
    • Provide OISS with a local address in San Diego for SEVIS validation
  3. Visit the Human Resources office
    • E-Verify validation- to check employment eligibility
    • USD ID number issuance
    • USD ID card and email address
  4. Contact the Payroll Office for tax-related procedures and tax treaty questions
  5. Provide an orientation* on USD campus and US life in general (required by law)
  6. You may also assist the exchange visitor by referring them to this J-1 Scholar Checklist

Note on Dates of Visit: Please notify OISS immediately for any changes (either beginning, end, or both) on the scholar's dates of visit

*Program regulations require sponsors to offer appropriate orientation for all exchange visitors. The orientation may include, but is not limited to, the following information:

  • Life and customs in the US
  • USD Campus Life
  • Local community resources (e.g. public transportation, schools, recreation facilities, etc.)
  • A description of the program they are participating in

Additional Resources to Prepare for Life in the United States

For a student venturing off to the United States to earn a degree, traveling can be a source of both excitement and stress. You are likely eager to find out what documents you need to bring, how much money to bring, what to expect upon arrival here in the United States, etc. To help prepare you for your departure, please consult Education USA's excellent guide on pre-departure planning by visiting this link.

In addition, the Useful Local information section of the OISS website is a great resource for your pre-departure planning. This handbook covers topics such as finding a place to live in San Diego, purchasing or renting a car, opening a bank account, etc.

Some of the information required in orienting exchange visitors are already provided by OISS during check-in and mandatory regulatory and insurance orientation. If further assistance is required by the hosting department in orienting a visiting scholar or professor, please let OISS know and we would be happy to provide some additional guidance.

J-1 Scholar Estimated Expenses

Per Month



SEVIS Fee (one-time fee for J-1 visa)

~ $180*

*Subject to change, see for   current cost

Health Insurance


Housing Expenses (i.e. rent)


~ $1,500

Personal Expenses

(Food, transportation, etc.)


~ $450

Total Estimated Expenses

(Per Month)


Information about Expenses:
  • Miscellaneous personal expenses include minimal expenses and do not include cost associated with travel to/from San Diego or within the United States during vacation periods.
  • J-1 Scholars will be enrolled in USD’s health insurance plan unless they waive this coverage by demonstrating enrollment in a comparable health insurance plan. 

Health Insurance Requirements

All J-1 exchange students and visiting scholars must demonstrate health insurance coverage for their time at USD that meets U.S. State Department and university requirements. Please find more information about the health insurance requirement here.

Current Visiting Scholars

How to Stay in Status

It is extremely important for a J-1 exchange visitor to maintain his or her status while in the U.S. Failure to maintain status is a ground for removal from the U.S. (deportation). Exchange visitors maintain their J-1 status by engaging only in activities permitted under their program and category, filing timely and appropriate transfer and extension notifications, refraining from unauthorized employment, and maintaining required health insurance coverage. Each category will have additional specific requirements.

  • Exchange visitors are required to maintain the following documents at all times:
    • valid DS-2019
    • valid passport
  • Exchange visitors must study, teach, or conduct research at the institution listed on the DS-2019.
  • Exchange visitors must carry health insurance for both themselves and their dependents (J-2s), if any. The insurance must be maintained throughout the program period on the DS-2019 and must offer repatriation and evacuation benefits.
  • Exchange visitors must report a change of address to The Office of International Students & Scholars within 10 days of the move.
  • Exchange visitors must not remain in the U.S. longer than 30 days after completing the activity for which they have been invited to participate in at USD.

You must report any changes to the following within 10 days:

  • Address (residence)
  • Contact Information (Email and Phone Number)

CHANGE OF ADDRESS PROCEDURE: Please email to report any changes to your local address.

Once you have received your Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, the next step is to apply for a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa for yourself and your dependents, if applicable. You will need to make an appointment for an interview with a Consular Officer at an American Embassy or Consulate in the city where you reside.

Please refer to the checklist below for documents that you must bring to your interview. Please note that depending on the specific embassy or consulate you apply to, you may be required to provide additional documents in support of your application. For additional guidance, please refer to information found on the US embassy or consulate in your home country. 

Items to Bring to Your Interview

For information, please refer to the U.S. Department of State website.

Health Insurance Requirement

All visiting J-1 scholars must demonstrate evidence of health insurance coverage for the primary visa holder (as well as any J-2 dependents) for the entire program period listed on the DS-2019 document.

This insurance coverage must meet US State Department and USD minimum standards. Scholars may elect to purchase USD’s international health plan (and settle all fees at the time of enrollment) or may waive USD’s coverage by showing evidence of comparable coverage at least 30 days before arrival. Scholars that are not able to show evidence of comparable coverage at least 30 days before their arrival must enroll in the USD international health plan.

Enrolling in the USD International Plan

Visiting scholars have the option of enrolling in the USD International Health Insurance plan, coordinated through USD’s provider Gallagher Student Health and Aetna. Please refer to our health insurance webpage for detailed information and eligibility requireements*.

*Note that J-2 dependent spouses and children and NOT eligible to enroll in the USD international plan.

Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Only plan

For benefits-based employees at USD on J-1 visas, there is an option to purchasing a supplementary medical evacuation as repatriation plan as USD employee insurance plans do not include these provisions. Contact for more information.

Enrollment of dependents spouses and children

Again, J-2 dependent spouses and children of J-1 scholars are NOT eligible to enroll in the USD international plan but still must demonstrate coverage that meets the US State Department requirements. Alternative insurance options are presented as part of the electronic forms that visiting scholars submit pre-arrival.

Although USD is not affiliated with the following plans, many students/scholars have used these US-based plans to cover their dependent spouses and children. It is advisable to compare plans closely and to understadn both monthly costs and fees when accessing care:

International Student Insurance

PCH Global


Payment of Fees

All fees must be settled within two weeks of enrollment by cash or check only at the USD Cashier’s Office. Once enrollment is requested, the OISS will issue the visiting scholar an invoice detailing insured individuals, a period of coverage and fees.

Waiving USD’s Requirement with Comparable Insurance 

J-1 visiting scholars who wish to waive must also submit a copy of their health insurance certificate in English, which demonstrates the following features:

  • Effective throughout the duration of semester/stay at USD
  • Maximum dollar coverage of at least $100,000 per illness or injury ( plan must includer "per injury/illness language which is not the same as $100,000 maximum benefit)
  • Include outpatient care (doctor visits, outpatient surgery, etc.)
  • Include hospitalization
  • Repatriation for at least $25,000
  • Medical evacuation for at least $50,000
  • Cost of a deductible, if any, does not exceed $500 per accident or illness

A letter from the insurance company would also be acceptable (please refer to this sample).  Individuals who fail to do so at least 30 days before the date of their arrival to USD will automatically be enrolled in the USD international health insurance plan.  J-1 scholars are not subject to the online waiver form but still must submit a copy of their insurance certificate or letter from the insurance company (in English) verifying all coverage details. 

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.

General Information

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

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 may contact (619) 260-4598 to make an appointment with either Responsible Officer (RO) Chia-Yen Lin, or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) Rhona Reyes.

What is the two-year home residency 212(e) requirement?

Under specific circumstances, J-1 and J-2 status holders may incur a two-year home physical presence requirement. If subject to the rule, this means that he/she is not eligible to change to H, L or Permanent Residency (PR) classification without first returning to the home country for a total of 2 years. A waiver of this requirement can be applied for and obtained in specific circumstances. If the two-year rule applies, changing status from J to another non-immigrant classification (such as F-1) in the United States is prohibited. The two-year rule does NOT prohibit one from returning to the U.S. in any classification other than H, L, or PR.

Can the exchange visitor two-year home-country physical presence requirement be waived?

Certain exchange visitors (J-1) are subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement which requires you to return to your home country for at least two years at the end of your exchange visitor program. This is also known as the foreign residence requirement under U.S. law, Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212(e). If you are unable to return to your home country to fulfill the two-year requirement, you must obtain a waiver approved by the Department of Homeland Security prior to changing status in the United States or being issued a visa in certain categories for travel to the United States.

For additional information, please visit the State Department resideincy waiver page.
Please read the following FAQ before filing the waiver

212(e) Advisory Opinions

If you do not know whether the two-year home-country physical presence requirement applies to you, after having reviewed the Eligibility Information webpage, you can request that the Department of State Waiver Review Division conduct an Advisory Opinion. An Advisory Opinion is a review of your exchange visitor program documents to determine if you are subject to this requirement.