The Exchange Visitor Program is managed by the U.S. Department of State. Its purpose is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries through educational and cultural exchanges. Illinois State University is an immigration sponsor of the Exchange Visitor Program.
For more information on inviting exchange scholars, contact ISSS.
Research Scholars and Short-Term Scholars
- J-1 Researchers are invited to conduct research in close collaboration with ISU faculty on research that is of mutual interest and benefit.
- Scholars generally do not enroll in or audit classes. Instead, they are engaged full time in conducting research, lecturing, observing, consulting or training.
- Scholars may be paid or unpaid by the University.
- Hosting departments and candidates must outline a specific research plan before immigration documents can be issued.
- Scholars must complete their program on the Illinois State campus, not in another city or location.
International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) creates the immigration form (DS-2019) needed to apply for the J-1 visa.
4 Months to Arrival
- Host department discusses research activities with potential scholar and department chair.
- Host departement invites scholar to campus (see Sample Invitation Letter) or a formal offer letter is issued (if the individual will be employed by ISU).
- Host department contacts ISSS by emailing email@example.com or calling 309-438-5112 to confirm the faculty host has correct access to the ISSS Portal and that the correct departmental workflow is on file.
- Host department logs in to the ISSS Scholar Portal. Click on "CLICK HERE TO LOGIN WITH CENTRAL LOGIN" and enter your university credentials.
- If you need assistance logging in to the ISSS Scholar Portal, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Once logged in to the portal, the host department submits a
New Sponsorship Request
Tips for submitting your sponsorship request:
- Read and follow all instructions on the request
- Complete as many fields as possible (not only the required fields)
3-4 Months to Arrival
- ISSS will determine if the
New Sponsorship Request
meets the eligibility requirements for J-1 status.
- ISSS notifies the department and scholar via email, and the scholar is given access to the ISSS Portal.
- Both the department and the scholar will need to complete additional fields and upload appropriate documentation.
- Once all fields and documentation are complete, the DS-2019 visa document is issued.
2-3 Months to Arrival
- ISSS sends scholar email with Visiting Scholar Handbook, Exchange Visitor Program Welcome Brochure, and ULID activation information
- Scholar schedules a shipment for the DS-2019
- Scholar pays I-901 SEVIS fee, J-1 visa application fee, and any other related fees
- Scholar schedules visa appointment at the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy
1-2 Months to Arrival
- Scholar receives visa approval (if visa is denied, scholar may re-apply)
- Scholar makes travel and housing arrangements with the assistance of host
- Scholar confirms health insurance coverage with ISSS
- Scholar and host complete research agreement (if required) through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs
1 Week to Arrival
- ISSS contacts scholar to schedule a mandatory orientation related to immigration and an introduction to Bloomington-Normal
- Scholar attends mandatory orientation session with ISSS
- Scholar obtains Redbird ID card and pays fee
- Scholar's program begins
Scholars must be researchers or professors at home, or have similar expertise and qualifications. At minimum, they must have a bachelor's degree. (To invite undergraduate students, ask about the J-1 Student Intern category.) They must prove English proficiency and adequate funding to cover cost-of-living expenses while in Bloomington-Normal.
Research Scholars and Professors are eligible to stay in the U.S. from 3 weeks to 5 years depending on the program. Short-term (Research) Scholars may stay from 1 day to 6 months.
- The U.S. Department of State (DOS) requires that Exchange Visitors have sufficient funds to cover all of their expenses.
- Scholars can be self-funded; they do not need to be employed or funded by ISU.
Scholars may only engage in employment or receive payments or reimbursements when related to their ISU program for which they have received prior written authorization. Receiving anything in return for services rendered (consulting, presenting) such as pay, free airfare, free hotel stay or lodging, etc., constitutes an employment relationship according to ICE. Any employment must be preapproved by ISSS.