Visiting Scholars who are not U.S. citizens or who do not possess a green card will apply for a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa sponsored by Harvard University. Please note that for some countries, there is a two-year home country residency requirement following a stay in the U.S. on a J-1 visa when holders of the visa are the recipients of funding from their home country governments. For more information on the two- year home country residence requirement, please consult a U.S. embassy or consulate.
There is a minimum of three months needed to process a visa, which Visiting Scholars should keep in mind when planning to come to Harvard.
Accepted Visiting Scholars will receive additional information from the CES Program Coordinator on how to obtain a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa. Spouses and dependents under the age of 21 can accompany visitors by applying for a J-2 visa. Visiting Scholars are responsible for all fees associated with the visa application process, including the visa application fee ($160), SEVIS fee ($180), and visa issuance fee (depending on the country where the visa is issued). Accompanying J-2 dependents are not subject to the SEVIS fee.
The Harvard International Office (HIO) outlines in more detail the visa application process and is an excellent resource for all visa-related questions.
All visitors on J-1 visas and their J-2 dependents are required by US regulations to have health insurance that meets certain standards. Please consult the Harvard International Office’s website for more information on health insurance plans that satisfy the requirements for J visa holders. If you are not already covered through your home employer, you are required to secure insurance shortly after your arrival to the US. In the meantime, you are advised to purchase travel insurance for the beginning of your stay until you secure your regular health insurance.
There are a few options available to scholars to secure health insurance in the US. One option for Visiting Scholars is the International Scholar Health Insurance Plan for J-1 visa holders (ISHIP). Another good resource to consult in addition to the Harvard International Office’s website is the Massachusetts Health Connector, which is a searchable database for private health insurance.
Whether your appointment is for one semester or longer, it is possible to find suitable childcare and/or school placements in the surrounding area. For general childcare information and resources ranging from nanny placements to secondary schools, please visit Harvard’s Childcare website and the HIO’s website. To get a list of licensed child care centers, please visit the searchable online directory of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care. CES will provide additional information about daycare options and school placements to accepted candidates.
For Visiting Scholars arriving in the fall, CES holds a one-day orientation program in the first week of September, including a library tour and welcome reception. In advance of this session, all Visiting Scholars will receive a copy of the CES Orientation Guide. For Visiting Scholars arriving on campus later in the fall, CES Program Manager and CES Program Coordinator will meet with you separately to review orientation materials. For Visiting Scholars arriving in the spring, CES holds an orientation in early February.
Jessica Heffernan at the Harvard International Office is CES's assigned advisor within the Harvard International Office. You may schedule an appointment for an individual orientation here.