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Procedures for Inviting an Unpaid Visiting Scholar/Researcher

Please note: As of March 3, 2020, Florida State University has temporarily suspended all new international visiting scholar applications. We will review this temporary suspension as conditions change. Please contact Stephen McDowell, Assistant Provost, if you have any questions.

Following FSU policy 3A-100, all visiting scholars/researchers, whether foreign national or U.S. persons, may only be invited to campus for more than 14 consecutive days with prior approval of department chair/director, dean, and Director of Research Compliance Programs in the Office of Research. Background checks (if deemed necessary after completing background check questionnaire form) and courtesy appointments are required for all visiting scholars/researchers. Visiting scholars/researchers may not begin program activity until on or after the start date on the courtesy appointment entered into OMNI or remain longer than the end date of the courtesy appointment.

In the event the host faculty member plans to invite an international visiting scholar/researcher, the host faculty member must determine whether or not the visiting scholar/researcher must have a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa to enter the U.S. In the event J-1 visa is necessary, the visiting scholar/researcher must meet the required English proficiency level for this visa.

U.S. citizens, permanent residents, international students and dependents with approved employment authorization, and other already approved legal immigration statuses which allow unpaid research will not need the J visa.

Registering Short-Term International Visitors

The hosts of all international short-term guests (visits 14 days or less) must register these visits with the Office of Research Compliance Programs (ORCP), subject to the exceptions noted in the Short-Term International Visitor Registration Policy. Links to the Policy and FAQs are shown below:

Short-Term International Visitor Registration Policy

Frequently Asked Questions

The FSU employee hosting a short-term international visitor must submit the following information to the ORCP at research-compliance@fsu.edu, located within the Office of the Vice President for Research, at least two weeks before the visit.

  1. Name of visitor
  2. Country of citizenship
  3. Home address
  4. Affiliation (school, government, etc.)
  5. Name of faculty host
  6. Host’s department or unit
  7. Purpose of visit
  8. Dates of visit

Contact Diana Key at 644-8648 if you have any questions about this Policy.

To Extend an Appointment

If a host faculty member wants to extend the visiting scholar/researcher appointment after the arrival of the visiting scholar/researcher, a new “Unpaid Visiting Scholar/Researcher Courtesy Appointment" form must be completed by the HR representative in the academic department/unit. The host faculty member must provide a written explanation of why the extension is warranted and the benefit provided to FSU to be included in the comments section of the “Courtesy Appointment Form”. The chair/director and the dean must review and sign off on the “Courtesy Appointment Form” verifying that the extension is warranted. 

If the visiting scholar/researcher is not on a J-1 visa sponsored by FSU, the new courtesy appointment form is sent to Human Resources for an extension of the courtesy appointment along with any required documentation of the visiting scholar/researcher's continuing legal status or authorization, if not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

If the visiting scholar/researcher is on a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa sponsored by FSU, the new courtesy appointment form is sent to the J-1 Exchange Visitor Advisor at apstevens@fsu.edu along with a request for extension, documentation of funding for the extension period, a copy of the extended health insurance through the entire extension period, and documentation of approved leave from the scholar/researcher's home institution. The J-1 Exchange Visitor Advisor reviews the requested extension for eligibility and makes the update on the visiting scholar/researcher's immigration record. The form is then forwarded to Human Resources along with other required documentation for the courtesy appointment extension to be made in OMNI.


To Reclassify a Paid Visiting Scholar to Unpaid Visiting Scholar

A paid visiting scholar can only be reclassified as an unpaid visiting scholar if the work the scholar will do as an unpaid visiting scholar is substantially different from the work the scholar did while being paid. This reclassification and work assignment must be approved by HR. The hosting department must then complete the procedures for inviting an Unpaid Visiting Scholar/Researcher.

If the scholar is on a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa sponsored by FSU, the hosting department must also provide the Exchange Visitor Advisor at the Center for Global Engagement a signed letter on letterhead describing how the work the scholar will be doing during the unpaid period varies substantially from what the scholar was doing for pay, how the work fits within the original J-1 program objectives described on the DS-2019 form, and for what period of time the unpaid work will be done. The J-1 scholar will need to provide to the Exchange Visitor Advisor documentation of sufficient funding and J-1 visa compliant insurance for the unpaid period. The Exchange Visitor Advisor must also receive a copy of the approved Unpaid Visiting Scholar Request, the background check results, and the courtesy appointment form noted in the procedures at the link above, which will be forwarded to HR with a copy of the updated DS-2019 form showing personal funding and any change in program dates.

NOTE: Students and recent graduates of FSU are not eligible to be an unpaid visiting scholar/researcher at FSU.

  • Students who recently completed a Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate (e.g., Sc.D., M.D.) at FSU may be eligible for a Postdoctoral Courtesy Appointment. Information about this classification is available at: http://opda.fsu.edu/policies-and-hiring/information-fsu-postdoctoral-administrators-and-pis.
  • FSU students and recent graduates who have completed a Bachelor or Master degree at FSU may be eligible to volunteer and would be covered under workers’ compensation as volunteers. Please contact HR for information on volunteer eligibility and to access

Contacts for Policy and Procedures

Courtesy Appointment: Shayna Harris at HR-CourtesyDocs@fsu.edu

Deemed Export Questionnaire or Visiting Scholar/Researcher Agreement: Diana Key at dkey@fsu.edu

J-1 visa or English proficiency requirements: Angelique Stevens at apstevens@fsu.edu

Policy: Steve McDowell at smcdowell@fsu.edu


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