Faculty members may invite foreign nationals to the U.S. for short periods of time to engage in research or observe teaching. Below you will find information regarding the definition of a visiting scholar at BC and the typical visas used for international visiting scholars. For more information regarding the procedures for inviting an international visiting scholar please please contact the Office of International Students and Scholars at bcis@bc.edu or 617-552-8005.

Visiting Scholar Requirements

  • Primary purpose for coming to the U.S. is to conduct research in collaboration with or under the supervision of a faculty member, or to observe teaching. 
  • Must have a faculty sponsor who will be responsible for their invitation and stay at BC. 
  • Must receive a formal appointment letter from the Office of the Provost and Dean for Faculties. Please refer to the Faculty Handbook for instructions on how to requst an invitation letter. 
  • The visiting scholar should, prior to arrival, have clear expectations on the resources that will be available to them such as faculty member availability, office space and internet, library and computer access. 
  • Scholars may not register for classes, but can audit them with faculty permission
  • Must have at least equivalent of a Master’s degree.

Once the visiting schlar appointment letter is issued by email, the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) will be in contact with the visitor to determine the best visa type.  If a J-1 visa is required, an English Verification form will need to be completed. The OISS will send you this form upon confirmation of the J-1 visa is required.   

Note: The OISS charges a one-time $125 fee for J-1 processing to be paid by the visitor or scholar. 

J-1 Scholar Visas

The majority of international visiting scholars at BC utilize the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa for their stay at BC.  In order for the scholar to apply for a J-1 visa, the OISS must issue the form DS-2019. Once the DS-2019 for the J1 visa is issued, the Visiting Scholar must present it, along with the appointment letter and financial certification, to a US consulate in order to be issued the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa.  All visiting scholars are required to obtain health insurance for the duration of their stay which meets the minimum criteria as defined by the U.S. Department of State.  

CategoryPrimary ActivityLength of Stay


An individual whose primary activity is conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project under the supervision of a BC faculty memberMaximum 5 years. Includes time spent at another institution on J-1 status. Extensions beyond 5 years are not possible.


An individual whose primary activity is teaching, lecturing, observing or consulting on non-tenure track appointments. Participation in departmental research is allowedMaximum 5 years. Includes time spent at another institution on J-1 status. Extensions beyond 5 years are not possible.

Short-Term Scholar

A professor or researcher,  coming to the U.S. on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, or consulting Maxi­mum 6 months. No extension of stay allowed beyond 6 months.

B-1/B-2 Visitor Visas

The B-1/B-2 visitor visa may be used if the scholar will be at BC for 6 months or less (3 months for Visa Waiver Program) and

  • Not receiving compensation from BC (in some cases may receive an honorarium or reimbursement for expenses- please check with the OISS).
  • From a country where it is relatively easy to get a visitor’s visa  
  • Is not working in a science lab at BC (for liability purposes, researchers working in science labs must come to BC using a J Scholar visa.)

Scholars Coming to BC Using a B1/B2 Visitor Visa

If the scholar does not already have a B1/B2 visa in their passport they will need to apply for one at the U.S. Embassy.  Scholars from certain countries are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program and do NOT have to apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate if they are coming to the U.S. for less than 90 days. They should carry their BC appointment letter and register and pay a small fee using the ESTA system.

Other Visa Types

  • A dependent (spouse) of a primary visa holder. For example, a J-1 scholar's spouse in the U.S. on a J-2 dependent visa.
  • A scholar on a J-1 visa at another university doing work simultaneously at BC.