International employees hold a variety of positions depending on their credentials with the majority considered visiting scholars. These scholars are in the United States on J-visas to receive training and plan to return to their home country after the visa expires. Some international visitors come to the UW as honorary fellows for unpaid training. Often a lab’s Principal Investigator acts as a sponsor for an international scholar and begins the process of bringing them to the U.S. International employees may also hold appointments as visiting scientists, visiting professors and regular faculty.
The type of visa a foreign visitor works on is largely dependent on their appointment and the intent of their visit. The vast majority of visas that are handled by the university are J-1 visas. The J-1 visa is intended for individuals who will gain skills or knowledge at the UW and return to their home country. J-1 visas last for five years and many require a two-year residency in the person’s home country before they can apply to re-enter the United States. Individuals who may intend to immigrate to the U.S. should not apply for a J-1 visa. Potential visiting personnel, either as visiting scholars or as honorary fellows, are generally in the U.S. on J-1 visas. Individuals on the J-1 visa are not permitted to provide medical care; they must receive a 5-point letter from the Chair and Director of Clinical Affairs to have incidental patient contact.
Individuals who may plan to move the United States should apply for an H-1B visa which covers stays in this country for employment with the potential for immigration intent. The application for an H-1B visa takes longer and is more complicated therefore most individuals obtain a J-1 Visa. A person in the United States on an H-1B visa may be involved in patient care provided he or she passes the licensure examinations and English language competency testing.
Individuals on J-1 or H-1B visas can make arrangements to bring dependents along. Other visa options, such as an O-visa for specialists or an F-visa for students are also available. The International Faculty & Staff Services site provides more information on visa logistics as well as useful information for visiting scholars and their sponsors (or call them at 608-265-2257).
Step by Step – Employing an International Visitor
Bringing an international visitor to the U.S. can take several months to arrange. The Department of Surgery Human Resources staff, as well as those in International Faculty and Staff Services, are extremely helpful with the process. The general steps to employing an international scholar are (these are reflective of the process for a J-1 visa, although a similar process is undertaken for other visa types):
- The Principal Investigator contacts Human Resources with information, including the scholar’s contact information (e-mail or phone number) and the position for which they would like to consider the visitor.
- Human Resources e-mails the scholar paper work to fill out and requests the following documents
- Curriculum Vitae
- Financial statement for individuals who will not be paid by the UW
- Health insurance documentation if they will not be purchasing SHIP insurance
- IAP66, DS-2019, I-797, 1-20 forms if they have previously held a J-1, J-1 H-1B or F-1 visa
- Photocopy of their passport biographical page
- Degree certification
- I-94 and Visa stamp if they are in the US
- Passport biographical page, previous visa forms and I-94 card photocopies are also needed for any family the individual will bring with them
- Human Resources contacts the Principal Investigator for information on the dates of employment and salary (The department administrator will need to sign off on individuals being paid through the department)
- Human Resources will work with the Medical School to finalize the appointment and complete the necessary paperwork to apply for a visa
- Human Resources and the Principal Investigator will be notified when the request has been completed
- Remember it can take one to two months to process a J-visa and as long as four months for a H-1B visa to be finalized
More information can be found at the J Scholar Information site.