The Scholar Visa Process
The following information outlines the visa application process when a new international scholar comes to Harvard University (or its affiliated hospitals) from outside the United States using a visa sponsored by Harvard University. All scholar visas sponsored by Harvard University require both a visa document issued by the Harvard International Office (HIO) and a visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the United States. Canadian citizens only need a visa document and do not need a visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate. The information in this section provides an overview of what to expect when requesting a visa document from Harvard University, applying for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, and finally, entering the United States.
Harvard Academic Appointment
Before the HIO can consider visa sponsorship, there must be an offer of an academic appointment from Harvard University. The sponsoring department at Harvard (or affiliated hospital) submits the required information to the HIO via ISD. This information includes confirmation that there is a Harvard academic appointment and that there are adequate funds for the visit if Harvard is not funding the position.
The advisors in the HIO review the information to see if the individual is eligible for a visa sponsored by the University. If so, the HIO begins the process of issuing a visa document for the scholar. The J visa document is generated in the HIO. Other visas must be petitioned for and approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in advance. If there are no unusual circumstances and all of the data is complete, the time frame for the HIO to generate a Form DS-2019 for a J visa is generally less than 30 days. To petition and obtain an approved Form I-797 for an H-1B or O-1 visa from USCIS via regular processing usually takes 2 to 6 months.
Once a visa document is generated, the HIO sends it to the scholar. The process differs if the scholar is already in the United States on a non-immigrant visa. Contact your HIO advisor for details.
Once the scholar receives the visa document from the HIO, s/he is ready to begin the visa application process at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Canadian citizens only need a visa document and do not need a visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate.