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International Visiting Scholars Including Researchers, Professors and Post-Docs

General Information for BC departments

Any faculty members are interested in bringing foreign nationals to the U.S. (foreign nationals do NOT include permanent residents/green card holders) for short periods of time to engage in research or 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 or (617) 552-8005.


Visiting Scholars:

  • Primary purpose for coming to US is to do research or to teach (non-tenure track).  
  • Must have a faculty sponsor who will be responsible for their invitation and stay at BC. 
  • Expectations should be set prior to the scholar's arrival regarding resources that will be available to them such as faculty member availability, office space and computer usage.
  • Usually not registered for classes, though can audit class(es) if they wish.
  • Generally must have at least equivalent of Master’s degree.
  • Unpaid scholars must receive formal appointment letter from the Office of the Provost and Dean of Faculties.
  • If not funded by BC, the scholar must demonstrate sufficient financial resources to cover living expenses.
  • If funded by BC, must follow hiring procedures through Kronos Peoplesoft.


Typical Visa Types for International Scholars at BC:


The Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) will be in contact with you once you and the scholar have submitted information in Scholar Dossier system to determine the best visa option for the scholar.  Please find information below regarding the most typical visas used by international visiting scholars. 


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.  


Categories of J-1 Scholar Visas at Boston College



   Primary Activity

Length of Stay

Researcher          An individual whose primary activity is conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project under the supervision of a BC faculty member. Maximum 5 years. Includes time spent at another institution on J-1 status. Extensions beyond 5 years are not possible.
Professor An individual whose primary activity is teaching, lecturing, observing or consulting on non-tenure track
appointments. Participation in departmental research is allowed.
Maximum 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 Visa:


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.)


For those 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.


Examples of 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.