Hiring International Speakers, Professors and Researchers

There are a variety of ways that an international person can be brought to campus, but it can be more difficult than it appears on the surface. Although it can be easy to bring in a guest on a particular visa, restrictions on that visa type can make payment for services impossible. In general, putting the work and time into the front end to get the most appropriate visas leads to less work and disappointment later. All international visitors must have a letter of welcome from the appropriate university dean's office stipulating the particular agreement between the university and the visitor.

Some visitors require specific permission from the U.S. government to be employed in the U.S. The granting entity is the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, hereafter referred to as BCIS.

For all international faculty and guests who will be paid, there are certain U.S. withholding guidelines and tax treaties to consider. For this information, contact Payroll. For visa related questions, contact Chris Andresen, Associate Director, International Education.

Typical Visas

The most typical visas used to invite guests to campus, and their parameters, are below.

B-1, Visitor for Business

B-1 visitors for business are not permitted to be employed in the U.S., but may generally accept reimbursement for expenses. Since Oct. 21, 1998, institutions of higher education may also pay B-1 visitors "an honorarium payment and associated incidental expenses for a usual academic activity or activities (lasting not longer than 9 days at any single institution)….and if the alien has not accepted such payment or expenses from more than 5 institutions or organizations in the previous 6-month period."

If you have questions about this visa type, please consult with (Associate Director, International Education) and Payroll.

WB, Visa Waiver for Business

Laws regarding employment for WB status are identical to their B-1 counterparts.

If you have questions about this visa type, please consult with Chris Andresen (Associate Director, International Education) and Payroll.

TN, Professionals under NAFTA (for Citizens of Canada and Mexico)

May be employed only by the sponsoring employer through whom the status was obtained and for occupations that qualify under the provisions of the treaty. Can be employed by more than one employer simultaneously, but must obtain TN status for each employer.

If you have questions about this visa type, please consult with the appropriate dean's office. Some of the documents required to get this approval at a Port of Entry (POE) are the responsibility of the visitor (proof of citizenship, evidence of required credentials) and some are the responsibility of the hiring dean (letter from the employer that satisfies the requirements of the TN visa, proof that job is one of the occupations covered under TN, etc.).

J-1, Exchange Visitor: Professor, Researcher, Short-term Scholar

May be employed in alignment with their status only by the designated program sponsor (in this case, Willamette University) and within the guidelines of their J-1 category.

J-1 Professor is defined as "an individual primarily teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting at post-secondary accredited educational institutions….A professor may also conduct research, unless disallowed by the sponsor. J-1 Researcher is defined as "an individual primarily conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project at … post-secondary accredited institutions….The research scholar may also teach or lecture, unless disallowed by the sponsor." Although these are different categories, the parameters are similar. Both require "appropriate academic or similar credentials" - generally a minimum of a bachelor's degree with appropriate experience in the field of endeavor. These participants cannot be a candidate for a tenure track position. These categories are affected by the "12-month bar" rule which states that an alien is not eligible to begin an exchange program in these categories if s/he was physically present in any J status for all or part of the 12-month period preceding the date of commencement of the new program unless they are a J-1 transfer, were in J status less than 6 months, or were in the U.S. as a J-visa short-term scholar. There is a three year maximum, three week minimum on this category.

J-1 Short-term Scholar is defined as above for a "short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills…." This category is not subject to the three-week minimum length of program requirement, so this is an ideal category for programs and visits lasting anywhere from one day to a maximum of six months. It can also be used for visitors subject to the "12-month bar" described above. Since extensions beyond six months are not possible, this category should not be used for anyone with plans to stay beyond this limit.

For all J-visa categories, a DS-2019 immigration document must be issued by Willamette University. To utilize this process, departments should consult closely with the hiring dean, (Associate Director, International Education) and Payroll.

Less Typical Visas

Other possible, though less typical routes include the following.

F-1 Student on OPT: Optional Practical Training

Students in the U.S. on F-1 visas are eligible for 12-months of employment related to their area of study either before or after they graduate. Most students typically save this employment called Optional Practical Training (OPT) for after graduation, but because this is not always the case, it's important to clarify with the student how much OPT they have remaining. Students apply for OPT through their degree-granting institutions through an application to BCIS. Approvals can take up to 4-5 months, so students will typically begin applying well before they graduate. Approvals are not employer specific, so a student with approval can work anywhere where the employment qualifies as related to their degree of study. An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from BCIS serves as proof of authorization.

If you have general questions about this visa type and procedure, contact Chris Andresen (Associate Director, International Education). Specific questions about a visitor's employability under this benefit may need to be directed to the visitor directly and/or their home university.

J-1 Student on AT: Academic Training

Students in the U.S. on J-1 visas are eligible to participate in employment related to their areas of study either before or after they graduate. Most J-1 students are eligible for up to 18 months of Academic Training, but the amount of time is dependent on their degree level and amount of time spent in the U.S. as a student. To have Academic Training, hiring department/dean will need to work with the international student advisor of the student's degree-granting university or sponsor who will explain what documents are required. Once approved, the student will be given documents s/he can present to WU as proof of authorization (a letter and an extended DS-2019, the immigration document that corresponds to the J-1 visa). The student does not need additional approval from BCIS.

If you have general questions about this visa type and procedure, contact (Associate Director, International Education). Specific questions about a visitor's employability under this benefit may need to be directed to the visitor directly and/or their home university.

H-1B: Temporary Worker in a Specialty Occupation

This visa category is most typically used for initially hiring international faculty the university intends to keep in permanent positions. It differs from other nonimmigrant visas in that it has dual intent and can also be considered for those with immigrant intent (eventual green card holders, as an example). BCIS approval is required, and this approval process can take 6 months or longer depending on BCIS processing times. Premium processing is available for $1,000 which gives an answer from BCIS in 15 business days, but the preliminary steps cannot be rushed, so at minimum departments wanting to pursue an H-1B still need to have at least 2 months lead time even if they're willing to pay the extra cost. This visa type also has specific prevailing wage levels that can be hard to meet.

Please begin working with (Associate Director, International Education) as soon as possible if you are considering this visa type.

Willamette University

Office of International Education

Global Learning Center
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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