Visiting Scholars

Visiting Scholars

Procedures for Applying for Visiting Scholar or Visiting Research Associate Status

Visiting Scholars and Visiting Research Associates are sponsored by a program, center or institute at Johns Hopkins SAIS, and approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.  Visiting Scholars are generally leading experts in their field of expertise who conduct advanced research at the school while Visiting Research Associates are usually PhD students who are spending some time at the school conducting research. The usual term of appointment does not exceed one year. However, extensions beyond the appointed term can be approved at the discretion of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs prior to the expiration of the initial assignment and at the recommendation of the supporting program, center, or institute.

The director of a program, center, or institute must make all requests for a Visiting Scholar or Visiting Research Associate appointment in writing to the Associate Dean. These written requests should include a curriculum vitae, a description of the project or research interest of the candidate, and a brief description of how this visitor will support the school's mission. The Associate Dean reviews each request and determines whether the appointment fits within the mission of the school and, if appropriate, will approve the request. For those visitors who do not need to obtain a visa in order to begin their research at the school, a letter of appointment will be prepared and sent. Most international visitors (those who are not US citizens or permanent residents in the US), however, may or may not need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa in order to begin their research. In those cases, the Associate Dean will provide an approval in principle. Full approval and the letter of appointment will follow the satisfactory completion of the visa application jointly by the prospective visitor and the program, center, or institute (see below for additional details on this process).       

Prospective Visiting Scholars and Visiting Research Associates should send a letter of interest to the particular program, center, or institute. The director of that program, center, or institute will make a determination whether to support the applicant for visitor status. 

Johns Hopkins SAIS will provide Visiting Scholars and Visiting Research Associates, access to the library (when JCard for Visiting Scholars Form is completed), consultation with faculty members who may be interested in their research, and the right to attend, or by invitation, to participate in the school's many special activities.

In general, the school is unable to provide Visiting Scholars and Visiting Research Associates with office space, secretarial service, housing or any other amenities. In certain cases when a Visiting Scholar, or Visiting Research Associate comes with funding to cover the cost of office space, office space may be provided. Visiting Scholars and Visiting Research Associates receive the same library privileges as students through the use of the J-Card they are issued upon arrival at the school.

All Visiting Scholars and Visiting Research Associates are requested in the appointment letter to contact the Office for Academic Affairs (202-663-5628, or to set up a "welcome" meeting on their arrival. Additionally, international Visiting Scholars and Visiting Research Associates on J-1 visa are required to report to the International Student and Scholar Services located at Nitze 404 upon their arrival. They may do so by e-mailing ( or by calling 202.663.5672.

Prior to the end of the appointment term, all Visiting Scholars and Visiting Research Associates are required to schedule an exit interview with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, to discuss research conducted while at the school. They are also required at that time to return their J-Card to the Office for Academic Affairs, and when supported by the school for the J-1 status, to inform the International Student and Scholar Services Director of their departure from the United States.

In order for the school to verify that a Visiting Scholar or Visiting Research Associate is making progress on his or her research, appropriate monitoring of progress is required. To accomplish this, a progress report will be sent out bi-monthly to the Director of the program, center, or institute via email (with a copy to the Program Coordinator). Directors are requested to include a few lines describing the progress of the scholar, and any school activities he/she may have participated in (seminars, brown bag lunch talks, etc.) and returned the report to the Office of Academic Affairs.

Additional Information for International Scholars Requiring School Support for a Visa
v J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

Directors of programs, centers, or institutes that wish to support an international visitor whose visa document is not supported by an external organization (e.g., Fulbright) must seek an approval in principal from the Associate Dean as described above. Once the approval in principal has been received, the potential visitor and the inviting program, center or institute must complete a SAIS J-1 Visa - DS-2019 Request Form for Scholars. Completion of this form ensures that the program, center or institute is willing to sponsor this individual, and that the applying individual meets the necessary financial and medical requirements as mandated by Federal law as part of admittance to the United States. The completed form is to be sent to The Office for Academic Affairs (Nitze 220), for review by the Associate Dean. For international visitors, please refer to the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) website for more information.

In general, the J-1 visa certificate (DS-2019) for international visitors will be issued to cover the duration of time as shown on the letter of appointment issued from the Associate Dean. Most J-1 programs require a minimum stay of three weeks and allow a maximum stay of five years.There are several categories within the J-1 program allowing the school to sponsor international visitors into our campus. Typically each international visitor on J-1 visa who will conduct research at the school is either in the short-term scholar category or in the research scholar category depending on the duration of time he/she will be at the school. The short-term scholar category allows an exchange visitor to enter even for a day or two, with a maximum stay of six months. ISSS will use this category when the letter of appointment is valid for six months or less and there is no extension beyond the six months period. If the letter of appointment is for a period longer than six months, ISSS will list international visitor in a research scholar category, which allows the exchange visitor to be in the US up to 5 years.

There is a new provision not allowing international visitor in J-1 research scholar category to return to the US in the future to conduct research in a J-1 research scholar/professor category unless he/she has been back to his/her home country for 24 months. This 24 month bar will apply to a repeated participation in a research scholar/professor category upon completion of their J program. For example, a visiting scholar in a research scholar category begins the J program at SAIS on 7/1/07 with an anticipated completion date of 4/1/08. It is possible to extend the appointment beyond 4/1/08 up to 5 years contingent to an approved by Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. If the international visitor decides to complete the J program at anytime during the time period and return home, he/she will not permitted to participate an another new J program in a research scholar/professor category until 24 months later. However, upon completion of the research at the school, and if the international visitor doesn't plan to return home and wish to transfer to another institution, he/she can request to transfer from J program at the school to another institution's J program without having to comply with the 24 month bar. The 24 month bar will apply to the international visitor when he/she completes the J program and return to home country.

What happens during the 24 month bar after the international visitor completes the J program? This 24 month bar would not prevent an international visitor from returning to the United States under different visa type, i.e. B-2 tourist, F-1 student visa or H1-B1 visa even as a J-1 short term scholar or student category.

The primary advantages of the J-1 status are that it can be obtained relatively easily and quickly, and it usually allows the spouse and dependents holding J-2 status to work while in the US. There are also tax advantages, including the fact that J-1 exchange visitors usually do not have to pay FICA during their first two years of stay in the United States.

The J Exchange Visitor carries with it certain obligations unique to this designation. In general, J visa holders have conditions on their stay in the United States and return to their home country, employment, and health insurance coverage.

Two-Year Home Country Residency Requirement

J-1 visa holders who have received direct funding from their government or the US government, or whose skills are deemed to be in short supply by the home country, are obliged to leave the United States upon completion of their programs. These scholars may not change their immigration status to another non-immigrant category permitting employment, such as H-1B Visa status, L visa status or adjust their status to that of permanent resident until they have completed the obligatory stay of two years in their home country. In some cases, this requirement may be waived,( please see upon recommendation of the home government, or on other grounds. The final authority to grant the waiver lies with USCIS. The two-year home country residence requirement does not, however, apply in all cases, since there are many countries that do not maintain a list of skills in short supply.

Health Insurance Requirements

In addition to the two-year home country residence requirement, J-1 scholars must also carry adequate health insurance for themselves and any accompanying dependents in order to maintain valid status. Since September 1, 1994, USCIS regulations require all J-1 and J-2 visa holders to have health insurance,

ISSS can provide information on a variety of health insurance options if the individual will not be covered by a University group plan or insurance from their home country.

Incidental Employment

In order to work for an employer other than SAIS in the position described on the DS-2019 form, international visitor on J-1 visa must first obtain approval in writing from J-1 Responsible Officer at ISSS, who represents the J-1 sponsor and issues Forms DS-2019. The responsible Officer at ISSS must evaluate the proposed employment in terms of the program objectives and each individual circumstance, and then decide whether it would be appropriate or not. Any incidental employment must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be directly related to the objectives of international visitor Exchange Visitor program
  • Must be incidental to international visitor primary program activities
  • Must not delay the completion of international visitor Exchange Visitor program

Please follow instruction available at the ISSS office.

Please do not confuse the 24-month bar rule with the two-year home country residency requirement. This 24 month bar applies to J-1 visa holder who is in the US in a research scholar /professor category regardless of the nationality whether or not he/she is subject to the skill list or the type government funding he/she will be receiving during the J program.

If the sponsored program, center, or Institute wishes to extend an appointment/affiliation with the school, please contact the Associate Dean's Office. ISSS is unable to extend the J-1 visa certificate without receiving a renewal letter of appointment from the Associate Dean. Keep in mind that the same criteria required for the initial appointment must be maintained or met in order to extend the appointment.

International visitor on J-1 visa can transfer from one J-1 sponsor to another including from the school to a new program sponsor or from current program sponsor to the school. A clearance from the original program sponsor to a new program sponsor is required. The international visitor may not take up employment with the new program until the transfer process has been successfully completed. The transfer of J-1 program sponsor must be completed prior to the individual's termination from the previous J-1 program and before the current DS-2019 form expires. Time spent in a previous program(s) prior to the transfer will be counted toward the five-year maximum.

A small fee of $ 250 is to be paid by the program (or visiting scholar) to cover the cost to the school of processing the J-1 visa.
Scholars who are unsure of their future plans with respect to employment in the US and who would be subject to the two-year home country residence requirement, described above, should also consider other alternative visa classifications.

  • Tourist/Business Visa (B1/B2) Or Visa Waiver Program

International visitors from certain countries who are supported by external organizations (e.g. the institution from home country or personal funding) may choose to come to conduct research at the school without J-1 visa. International visitors may enter the US on tourist/business visa (B1/B2). Please check with the US Embassy website in the home country for an instruction on how to obtain B1/B2 visa. The letter of appointment from the Associate Dean can be used as an invitation letter from the school when international visitor applies for a visa at the US Embassy. However, international visitor from certain countries may find it more difficult when applying for B1/B2 visa at the US Embassy. 

International visitors may enter the US on a Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This VWP program is similar to B1/B2 visa except that international visitors do not need to secure the visa from the US Embassy before entering the US Information about visa waiver program is available at

There are certain restrictions for people who enter the US on a B1/B2 or Visa Waiver Program.

1. Maximum duration of stay for VWP is 90 days of each visit without extension.
2. Maximum duration of stay for B1/B2 is generally no more than 6 months. The authorized duration of stay for this visa is a discretion of the Immigration Officer at the US Port of Entry.
3. No incidental employment is allowed for both B1/B2 or VWP.
4. Not allowed to change from VWP to any other visa category in the US
5. An honorarium payment and associated incidental expenses for a usual academic activity or activities (lasting no longer than 9 days at any single institution) is allowed if such payment is offered by an academic institution or organization and is made for services conducted for the benefit of that institution or entity and if the international visitor has not accepted such payment or expenses from more than 5 institutions or organizations in the previous 6-month period.

If the duration of an appointment at the school is short term, with no expectation of extension and no financial support from the school or any other institutions within the United States, it is recommended that international visitors consider entering the United States on this visa classification.