A Division of the International Studies Office

Visa Status Options

Visa Status Options


The type of visa status that is appropriate for international employees and visitors depends upon the activities that the visiting scholar will be engaged in while at UVA.  A brief description of the most common visa options are found below.  We strongly recommend speaking with staff from the ISO or from HR Immigration Services to discuss appropriate options for any visiting scholar coming to UVA.

Visas that do not require sponsorship

Visitor for business or pleasure (B-1/B-2)

The B non-immigrant category is intended for temporary visits to the United States for business (B-1) or pleasure (B-2).  Visitors in this category should not be engaged in collaborative research, but can come to conduct their own independent research.

Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

For short stays as a business visitor or tourist, foreign nationals from specific countries are eligible for the VWP. The purpose of the visit should be the same as for the B-1/B-2. Citizens of these countries simply register through the ESTA website and do not need to apply for a specific visa at a U.S. Embassy abroad. Upon entry, they are given B-1 or B-2 status with a maximum stay of 90 days.  Follow this link for the list of eligible countries and more information about the Visa Waiver Program.

Visas that Require Sponsorship through UVA

J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

The Exchange Visitor Program, administered by the U.S. Department of State, encourages  educational and cultural exchange and collaborative research, teaching and training.  Sponsorship of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is administered through the International Studies Office.  

Temporary specialty worker (H-1B)

The H-1B category is an employment-based visa status that allows for the temporary employment of an alien as a professional in a “specialty occupation.” This is defined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as an occupation requiring “practical application of a body of specialized knowledge along with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.”  Sponsorship of the H-1B Visa program is administered through HR Immigration Services. More information and details on the application process can be found here.  

Other Employment Based Visa Types

TN Treaty Workers

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) creates special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Citizens of Canada and Mexico are eligible to apply for TN status if they have an offer of employment in the US and have professional qualifications in specific fields.

Lawful Permanent Residence

A foreign national faculty or researcher may qualify for permanent residence based on employment at UVA.   More information about specific employment-based applications for “green cards” can be found through HR Immigration Services.

O –Outstanding Ability Visa

Outstanding ability in arts, athletics, science or business is available for athletes, researchers, or university faculty.