Visiting Researcher Status at UT Austin

Visiting Researchers work with UT Austin faculty on research projects.

Visiting Researchers receive a University ID that allows access to the university libraries, computer and recreational facilities, and the bus system. All visiting researchers are required to hold a short-term or standard J-1 scholar visa, regardless of their length of stay. Visitors traveling under the Visa Waiver Program are no longer eligible for visiting researcher status.

The process for applying for Visiting Researcher status is complex and includes not only UT Austin procedures but also applying for a J-1 visa from the US Department of State. Be sure to allow plenty of time to complete the process. Step-by-step procedures and a glossary of terms are below.

Visitors who wish to take classes must apply to UT as Non Degree-Seeking Students, not as Visiting Researchers. The procedures for Non Degree-Seeking Students are different and require a J-1 or F-1 visa.


The Application Process for Prospective Visiting Researchers

1. In most cases, doctoral students who want to come to Austin as Visiting Researchers must have already made substantial progress in developing their research plan and have done a pre-thesis presentation.

2. Determine what faculty member(s) you want to work with and approach them to see if you may do research under their supervision.

3. Confirm your faculty sponsor.

4. Decide your desired dates of travel. If your sponsor wants your stay to correspond to the UT semester system, be sure to check the UT Austin academic calendar.

5. Contact the Graduate Coordinator of your department (through your faculty sponsor if necessary) and send them the following information. For departments in the College of Communication (RTF, Journalism and Advertising), you may instead send the information to Cecilia Garrec (cecilia.garrec@austin.utexas.edu).

  • CV
  • Birth date and home address (unless it’s on the CV)
  • UT EID (“University of Texas Electronic Identity”)
  • Your exact arrival and departure dates

If you have no UT EID, please get one on the UT EID Self-Service page.

6. The UT Austin department will apply for your Human Resources Management System number, which is necessary for your Visiting Researcher application. This usually takes 1-3 days.

7. You will receive a Background Check form. Please fill out the top of this form, including your current and previous home address and your UT EID, and sign and date it. The program will fill in the lower half of the form.

8. The program will submit your background check application to UT Austin Human Resources. Results are usually returned within 3-5 days.

9. Your department will submit a request for your DS-2019 form to the ISSS office. The DS-2019 form shows that the University is your visa sponsor and you will need to submit this form in your visa interview.

10. Upon receipt of the DS-2019 request, the ISSS office will issue three emails. The first two go to your sponsor and the department chairperson, asking their official approval of your application. The third email goes to you, and asks you to fill out a biographical data sheet online.

11. You must send the ISSS office proof of your financial resources. A minimum amount of funds is required for each month of your stay:

$1,250/month for the visiting researcher
$625/month for a spouse
$250/month for each child

Examples of funding statements include: a letter of financial support from the visitor’s government, sponsor or employer, or a copy of the visitor’s personal bank statement. Please email this to scholars@austin.utexas.edu, identifying yourself and the purpose of the email in the subject line.

12. Once the ISSS office has collected the necessary electronic signatures, your biographical information, and proof of financial support, it will take one to two weeks for the office to mail you the DS-2019 form. Visitors can check the status of the immigration document processing online at the Visiting Scholar Status of Documents page.

13. The program will email you a scan of an official letter offering you a position as a Visiting Researcher. The letter will be signed by your faculty sponsor. Print this letter, sign and date it, and return it via email. This makes your Visiting Researcher status official.

14. At that point, you can apply for the J-1 visa. A step-by-step guide is on the Lisbon-based US embassy "Non-Immigrant Visas – How Do I Apply?" page. Be sure to pay close attention to the instructions on the site.

More information is on the above site, but briefly, you will need to:

When you go to the actual interview, make sure you have:

  • The completed application form
  • The original DS-2019 form issued by UT Austin
  • The original bank receipt
  • A passport valid for at least six months beyond the intended stay in the United States
  • All previous U.S. visas, even if expired
  • Your appointment confirmation sheet


Terms

DS-2019: This form is a certificate of eligibility for a J-1 visa and you must bring it to your embassy appointment. The form is issued by UT Austin International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). Once your visiting researcher application is submitted, the UT Austin-Portugal program requests ISSS to send you a DS-2019. Before the DS-2019 form is created for you, you must show ISSS proof of financial support during your stay.

ESTA: Electronic System for Travel Authorization (US Department of Homeland Security). All visitors traveling under the visa waiver program (visiting the US for less than 90 days) must apply to this system at least 72 hours before departure to the US. This costs $14 USD. You will find the application form on the ESTA site.

F-1: This type of non-immigrant visa may be issued to non degree-seeking students at UT. Prospective students should plan ahead, as the UT International Office will require them to show acceptance into the University before issuing the documentation necessary for the visa.

HRMS: Human Resource Management System (UT Austin). Prospective visiting researchers must be entered into this system and be assigned an HRMS number before their visiting researcher applications can be processed.

ISSS: International Student and Scholar Services of the UT Austin International Office.

J-1: This type of non-immigrant visa is issued to exchange visitors including visiting researchers and some registered students. Visas are required for any visitor staying in the US for over 90 days and may be required for shorter stays as well.

J-2: Dependents of J-1 visitors may apply for this type of visa. Marriage and birth certificates are required at the embassy interview to prove the legal relationship between the J-1 visitor and the J-2 applicant.

SEVIS: Student Exchange Visitor Information System (US Department of Homeland Security). This is an immigration database used to process the documents of students and other international visitors coming to the US. A SEVIS fee of $180 is required of J-1 visitors. This must be paid at least 3 business days prior to your appointment at the embassy, but after you receive your DS-2019 form. It can be paid online at www.fmjfee.com. You will need to print out a receipt so you can show embassy officials confirmation of payment. In some cases, Visiting Researchers may apply for visa and SEVIS fee reimbursement. If this is the case, be sure to bring a copy of the SEVIS receipt to Austin.

UT EID: University of Texas Electronic Identity. A UT EID allows anyone with a relationship to the university to use restricted online applications. Get one on the UT EID Self-Help page.

Visa waiver program: Citizens of EU countries as well as citizens from certain other countries may travel to the US under the visa waiver program, as long as the travel is less than 90 days. For more information on the program, see the Visa Waiver Program page.

Visiting Researcher: The Visiting Researcher program is overseen by the UT Office of the Vice-President for Research. Visiting Researchers are temporary visitors who have official status at UT and may obtain a campus ID card and have access to certain facilities such as the libraries. University ID cardholders may also ride most parts of the Austin CapMetro public transit system for free. Application to the Visiting Researcher program requires an HRMS number, a CV, an agreement form signed by you and your sponsoring professor, and a completed background check.