Guidelines for Paying J-1 Scholars

Cal Poly Pomona is now more active in inviting and receiving scholars from abroad on its campus for research, teaching and general enrichment of university life.

Understandably, faculty and administrators occasionally feel some degree of impatience when they sense that red tape is about to impede their effort to bring talented academicians from abroad to their classrooms and laboratories.

Many institutions, particularly those with many foreign scholars, have specialists to provide skilled assistance and specialized knowledge to these scholars and to the academic departments inviting them. The following information summarizes the complicated regulations of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and of the Department of State (formerly, United States Information Agency).

I. The academic objectives of foreign scholars fall into a number of different categories, but they can be classified according to the duration of the visit and the scholars long range plans. Note that only a few of the 50 or so nonimmigrant statuses are appropriate to an academic setting:

  • Scholars in the US for a few weeks or months and who have definite plans to leave usually obtain B-1 (visitor for business) or B-2 (visitor for pleasure) status; however, a different status must be considered if they are to receive university compensation during their stay.
  • Scholars in the US for longer visits, a month up to five years, and who have definite plans to leave the country, usually hold J-1 exchange visitor status.
  • Scholars in the US for longer visits (such as above) but who are considering remaining in the country, either at CPP or elsewhere, typically will benefit from H-1B temporary worker status.
  • Scholars in the US with a definite intent to seek permanent residency and who have an institution interested in offering them long-term employment and in assisting them to obtain permanent residence may begin in H-1B temporary worker status.

II. Compensation and the visiting scholar (USCIS rules, USIA rules; does not address Internal Revenue Service and Cal Poly Pomona state and Foundation rules*(see below):

B Visa

  • The B-1 (visitor for business) classification is available for short-term scholars paying visits to one or several campuses. However, such visitors cannot accept any type of formal appointment for a term or longer. While a university can pay their travel expenses and per diem, no salary or honorarium is permitted. To receive payments, scholars can almost always arrange for a visa that permits such payments. Before your dean/director issues an invitation, it is always wise to consult with the International Center International Student Advisor. A university representative must issue the invitation and the visiting scholar must be prepared to show adequate resources to cover the cost of the visit to the U.S. B-1 status-- CPP may pay travel/per diem but no salary or honorarium.
  • The B-2 (visitor for pleasure) status can be used by a scholar visiting the US and visiting US institutions. The B-2 visa is typically issued when a scholar indicates intent to combine an academic visit to Cal Poly Pomona with other travel. The B-2 visa precludes reimbursement for travel and per diem, as well as salary or honorarium. Upon entry, the federal inspector will mark the I-94 document carried by the visitor as B-1 or B-2. If reimbursement is planned, you should encourage a scholar to avoid B-2 status even though it is easy to obtain. B-2 status--no travel/per diem, no salary, no honorarium.
  • Visa Waiver Pilot Program, begun in 1986, allows visitors from designated countries to enter the U.S. without a visa. Their I-94s will be marked WT, visitor for pleasure (same as B-2) or WB, visitor for business„rules on travel, per diem, honoraria and salary are the same as for B-1 and B-2. Under the program, the visitor may not extend the stay beyond the three month maximum or change to another visa category. WT status--no travel/per diem, no salary, no honorarium; WB status-- travel/per diem, no salary, no honorarium.
  • Scholars may also be in F-1 practical training or J-1 academic training categories.
    1. Normally, students in the F-1 status are enrolled in formal academic programs; however, the student may remain in the US and employed up to 12 months beyond the degree (if the correct paperwork has been filed with the CPP International Student Advisor and the USCIS). In a typical scenario, CPP faculty may wish to employ a recent graduate but a) the limit is 12 months and b) the paperwork must be in place in advance of employment. F-1 student status, with formal paperwork submitted and USCIS approval, salary for practical training.
    2. Students in J-1 degree-seeking student status (not exchange students in our use of the term) may also engage in a period of post-program academic training but the paperwork has to be completed in cooperation with the responsible officer of the student exchange visitor program (often, J-1s may engage in up to 18 months of academic training and postdoctoral appointments may be extended up to 36 months). J-1 student--with paperwork and sponsor approval, may receive salary for academic training.
    3. J-1 exchange students, as we use the term to describe students from a partner university here for a quarter or academic year for non-degree coursework (different from non-degree prescribed course of study) may or may not be able to take advantage of the benefits of academic training that J-1 degree students do. Technically they may request training equivalent to the time spent here as full time students, but only with the approval of the sending university and the International Center. Consult with the International Center before proceeding. CPP exchange student with J-1 status--with paperwork and approval, part-time on-campus employment; with paperwork and approval, limited off campus practical training is possible

J Visa

  • Scholars in J-1 Exchange Visitor Status are aliens with sufficient academic training to benefit from an academic or professional program at Cal Poly Pomona. The host (in this case, Cal Poly Pomona) has the required exchange visitor program authorization from USCIS to invite such scholars here. People in the category are mainly teachers (same), professors, research scholars, specialists, international visitors, etc. We have authorization for some but not all J-1 categories. Note that USCIS rarely allows a change of category within the J-1 program.
  • The document needed to obtain the J-1 visa and subsequently enter the US is the DS-2019 that only the International Center can prepare for Cal Poly Pomona. The document details the academic objective of the scholar and the source of funding. As a bare minimum, the visitor must prove $1,000/month is available, excluding insurance, for the entire stay; $2,000+ is advised for our area. You will need to provide the required demographic and other information for the International Center.
  • The DS-2019 must include information on spouse and children if the latter are to accompany the scholar. Family members have J-2 status and typically may not work and certainly may not work if the employment is needed to support the J-1 scholar. The prospective J-1 visitor must demonstrate additional funds for each dependent, for the entire stay of the dependent in the U.S. Consult with the International Center for these amounts.
  • J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents are required to have/maintain appropriate health insurance while in the US. Note that
    1. Some J-1 scholars are subject to a two-year home residency requirement (that is, they may not be allowed to return for two years in a J-1 or some other status) if
      • Funding comes from the US government, the foreign government, or an international organization;
      • The specialized field is designated on the Exchange Visitor Skills List as a human resource need in the home country; or
      • The person is a foreign medical graduate coming to the US for graduate medical training.
    2. The visitor described above may not become an immigrant, H temporary worker, etc., until after remaining two years in the home country or obtaining waivers of the rule from USCIS and the State Department.
    3. J-1 scholars not subject to the home residency requirement are not given a minimum time outside the US before returning in exchange visitor status or some other status. A research scholar working on your multi-year NSF research grant (for example) is not subject to the two-year home residency requirement.

H-1 B Visa

Scholars in H-1B (Temporary Worker) Status, TN (Trade NAFTA) Status, O, P, and Q Status, and Foreign Scholars Seeking Permanent Resident Status (labor certification, green card).

Please speak to the International Student Advisor regarding these categories. CPP does not undertake preparation of documentation for these visa categories. However, it can provide you with information on how to research the types and rules for a) compensation and b) withholding.

*Important Cal Poly Pomona State and Foundation requirements:

A taxpayer ID is required by Cal Poly Pomona and the Foundation before payment of honoraria, travel or per diem is permitted. Remember to inform visitors clearly and in advance of arriving that there is withholding; they most likely will be eligible for a refund of part or all of the withholding if they file federal and state income tax returns.

  • This added stipulation of a taxpayer ID requires us to apply on behalf of the visitor in advance of coming to southern California for an ID--6-8 weeks is typical
  • The International Center is asking for authorization to issue the taxpayer ID and reduce the time by 50% but has not yet received this authorization. Even with the authorization, advance arrangements to obtain the ID will still be required.
  • Honoraria are subject to federal income tax withholding, as much as 30%.Under certain circumstances withholding is 14%.Cal Poly Pomona and the Foundation will not waive this legal requirement.
  • For short-term visitors, it is unlikely that the Social Security Administration will agree to issue a social security number. Please check with the International Center if you have more questions regarding social security numbers.