Visiting Scholars – Policies and Procedures

Visiting scholars can enrich the life of departments and further the missions of research, intellectual exchange, and pedagogy. All visiting scholars must have a faculty sponsor who will serve as a point of contact with the department. Visitors are expected to engage in collaborative research and/or other creative activities with faculty and researchers in related departments. The Department of Geography welcomes this type of enrichment to the program, however it does not provide funding, housing, computing equipment, or paid teaching positions for visiting scholars.

All short-term scholars who are visiting for more than two weeks must enter the country with a J-1 visa. Canadian citizens are exempt from obtaining the visa, but they must hold a DS-2019 when they enter the United States. Both of these documents require an application via the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS).

Faculty Sponsorship of a Visiting Scholar
1. Department Approval

    First steps:
    (a) Provide Karen Doehner with:

    Name of visitor
    Contact information
    Projected dates of visit (arrival and departure)

    (b) Get Department approval, for which you will need Letter of invitation, specifying the nature of the project

    Visitor’s CV
    Copy of visitor’s passport and visa
    Fill in the online request for approval on the Visitor Form

Prior to being officially invited, the sponsoring faculty member must prepare, submit, and receive approval from the Department Chair via the online Visitor Request Form. Please include the proposed visitor’s CV, abstract, a letter of invitation, and a list of collaborators, and provide Karen Doehner with these and any other documentation you have for the visitor. Faculty Sponsors must be in residence for the duration of the proposed visit.

2. Visitor practices must be consistent with UC and UCSB policies:

  • Purpose of pursuing an appropriate activity (such as research, teaching, or training); please provide detailed information, including how their visit will benefit the department
  • The visitor must demonstrate intent to return to home country (as determined by consular officer)
  • Visitor must have sufficient funding for program–see minimum financial requirements
  • Visitor must demonstrate that he/she has the appropriate background for program activity (must meet appropriate degree requirements)
  • Have adequate English proficiency (determined by the host department—see English Language Proficiency form). Please be judicious in determining proficiency; a visitor who is unable to communicate cannot effectively navigate our English-dominant community and cannot fully participate or contribute to the academic activities of the department.

Please see: Academic Personnel Policy and III-25 Without Salary Visitors

3. J-1 Scholar Categories

  • Short Term Scholar
  • Research Scholar/Professor
  • Student Intern

The different categories of J-1 scholars are detailed at J-1 Overview
Be sure to select the one that best matches the visitor’s intended academic visit.

4. Procedures for Visa Application
Once approved by the Chair, Karen Doehner will assist with the initiation of the visa application process in coordination with the Office for International Students and Scholars. It is recommended that a request to host a visitor be made 4–6 months in advance of the proposed visit. J-1 documents received with less than a 90-day lead-time will NOT be processed by OISS and the visit will need to be delayed.
Please share any documents you may have for your visitor with Karen Doehner, including: letter of invitation, department approval, visitor’s CV, visitor’s work proposal, etc.

5. Guidelines for Visit
Each visitor must provide funding for his/her stay in the U.S., funding for his/her lodging, and bring his/her own laptop.

Arrival: A visitor must arrive within 30 days of the date on his/her letter of invitation and his/her DS-2019. If there are delays in the visitor obtaining his/her visa that prevents travel within this time frame, he/she must apply for an amendment of his DS-2019.

Please notify Karen Doehner if there are anticipated delays of the visitor’s arrival. The request for amendment must be done at least 14 days prior to the expiration of the DS-2019. OISS cannot process the new document without this lead-time, and he/she must have the amended DS-2019 in hand when he/she travels.

Departure: The visitor may only remain on campus until the date specified in the invitation letter and his DS-2019. If you wish to prolong his/her stay, there is a process to extend the visit, but it will require a prior request to OISS and the submission of several documents justifying the need to extend the stay and demonstrating the means with which to stay.

If you anticipate the need for an extension, please do so within 4 weeks of the appointment date specified on the DS-2019 so there is sufficient time to process it.

Upon departure, the visitor must return his/her keys and may no longer remain in his/her office. He/she may, however, remain in the U.S. for 30 days for tourism purposes.

Host faculty are expected to assist in enforcing this UC and Department of Homeland Security policy, given that an illegally extended stay represents liabilities to the University. Failure to comply may influence future requests for departmental approval of a proposed visitor.
Please note that UCSB is one of only 845 of the 5,300 universities in the United States that offer programs for international visitors and students. If audited by the Department of Homeland Security, an “unlawful presence” on campus (i.e., violation of the terms of a visitor’s stay) can compromise the continuation of the program at our campus.

Visitor Application for a J-1 Visa
1. General Guidelines:
Once a visitor has been invited by a professor to visit the University of California, Santa Barbara you must apply for a J-1 visa. Obtaining a visa is a lengthy process and we are seeing delays in the U.S. State Department issuing visas, so the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) recommends initiating the process 3 to 6 months prior to the date of the visit.
The application process is detailed at Apply for DS-2019
Please pay particular attention to the financial requirements and the (insurance requirements.

J-1 exchange visitors’ dependents (legally married spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21) can enter the U.S. as J-2 Dependents. Other family members (such as parents, siblings or domestic partners) are not eligible for J-2 status, but may be eligible to visit the U.S. as tourists with a B-2 visa.

The U.S. Department of State Exchange Visitor Program Welcome Brochure can be viewed here. If you are not sure if you meet the requirements to be a J-1 Exchange Visitor, please contact the UCSB Office of International Students & Scholars.

Detailed information regarding the J-1 process can be found in the J-1 Scholar Program Handbook.

Each visitor must provide funding for his/her stay in the U.S., funding for his/her lodging, and bring his/her own laptop.

2. Application Procedures

  • The prospective visitor will work with the Visitor Coordinator (Karen Doehner, to apply for the DS-2019, which will then enable you to apply for the visa. Please be prepared to submit the required information and documents to the OISS International Scholar Dossier (ISD) system. These will include biographical information, copy of the visitor’s passport, the letter of invitation, evidence of highest education, proof of financial support, proof of English proficiency, among others.
  • English proficiency must be demonstrated by a standardized test (TOEFL, IELTS) taken within the past 5 years, or by an interview with the sponsoring faculty.
  • You will be invited to fill in your personal information and submit your documents in the ISD system; this will be reviewed for accuracy by the Department of Geography, and then submitted to OISS for further review and approval.
  • Once approved by OISS, a DS-2019 will be issued and shipped to the traveler by an overnight carrier. This document is necessary for visa application at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy and must accompany the visitor when he travels. The visitor will be given instructions on how to pre-pay for the overnight shipment of the DS-2019.
  • Please check with the consulate offices about the expected delays in processing the visa to make realistic travel arrangements. If there is a delay in receiving the visa or in travel arrangements and he/she can’t arrive within 30 days of the date on the DS-2019, he/she must apply for an amendment of the DS-2019. This request must be made at least 14 days prior to the expiration date of the DS-2019 to give the OISS sufficient time to process the amendment.
  • It is advisable to begin looking for accommodations in Santa Barbara once the DS-2019 has been approved. Craig’s list is an online site for finding local resources. Rooms in a private home are used extensively by visitors and students at UCSB; they will be listed here, and they generally run between $700-$1200/month. They tend to be furnished, and have kitchen and laundry privileges.

The Santa Barbara area communities are:

  • Isla Vista (closest to UCSB, within walking or biking distance)
  • Goleta (adjacent to UCSB, about 5 to 15 minutes, biking or bus transportation necessary)
  • Downtown Goleta (close to UCSB, but biking or bus transportation necessary)
  • Santa Barbara (about 10-20 minutes from UCSB, bus or car transportation necessary)
  • Montecito (about 20-30 minutes from UCSB, transportation necessary)
  • Carpinteria (beachside community, about 30-40 minutes from UCSB, transportation)
Visitor Arrival and Check In
Remember: Each visitor is responsible for securing his/her own housing and bringing his/her own laptop.
1. Travel
Once a visitor receives his/her J-1 Visa from the U.S. State Department, he/she may purchase his/her tickets to travel. Please bear in mind that arrival at UCSB must be within 30 days of the date specified on the DS-2019.

If a delay in arrival beyond the 30-day window is anticipated, a request for amendment must be made at least 14 days prior to the expiration date of the DS-2019. The updated amended DS-2019 is necessary for travel.

2. Arrival and Check In

  • Upon arrival, the visitor must first check in with OISS (Student Services Building, UCSB). OISS is open for visitor check in between 1 and 3 p.m. on Monday through Thursday.
  • Following this, the visitor must check in with the Karen Doehner in the Department of Geography (Ellison 1839), where he/she will receive assistance in establishing a UCSB NetID, which is necessary to gain access to campus Wi-Fi and library services. Administrative staff will assign office space, and a key to the office can be checked out. Check in at the department is between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

3. Departure
Once the visit is concluded (on the end date of the DS-2019), the visitor must return his/her keys and he/she may no longer continue to work on campus. However, if the visitor anticipates the need to extend his/her visit, he/she must request an extension within 4 weeks prior to the expiration date specified on the DS-2019. OISS will need to see documents justifying the need to extend the stay and demonstrating the means with which to stay. This will be done via the ISD system, with Karen Doehner’s assistance.

Please note: J-1 program participants are allowed to stay 30 days beyond the program end date on their DS-2019. This 30-day grace period allows the visitor to prepare to return home, travel, sightsee, etc. within the U.S. Travel beyond the borders of the U.S. is not recommended since the DS-2019 is no longer valid and he/she may not be permitted re-entry. However, during the grace period UC policy specifies that the visitor may not work or continue and/or complete his/her research activities on campus. This qualifies as an “unlawful presence on campus” and is considered a violation of the terms of the J-1 visa.

A visitor cannot transfer or extend his J-1 status during the 30-day grace period.