Visiting Scholars

Guidelines for Hosting Visiting International Scholars

Hosting a visiting scholar for a semester or a year can enhance Winona State University's academic environment, especially if arrangements for their visit have been carefully planned and international visitors are received with appropriate cultural considerations. The following guidelines will be used in arranging such visits.

Each visiting scholar needs to have a sponsor on the WSU campus, typically a department or program that is most closely associated with the visiting scholar’s work.

The Center for Global Education (CGE) should be contacted as early in the process as possible, as this is the office that will coordinate the written invitation to the international scholar. Approvals must be secured from the chair of the department in which the visiting scholar will be housed, the academic college dean, and the Provost, each of whom should confirm their approval by email to CGE.

The email merely needs to indicate the sender’s approval in one sentence. The visiting scholar is expected to be engaged with university life throughout the visit and will be involved in activities such as teaching, lecturing, conducting workshops, engaging in research, giving presentations to WSU and the greater community while at WSU, and other activities as appropriate.

Visiting scholars may be invited by an instructor to observe an occasional course, but may not enroll in or audit WSU classes without previously applying for admission, applying for and receiving an F1 student visa, and paying tuition and fees. If you are hosting a visiting scholar who expresses interest in taking WSU courses, advise them that doing so violates the terms of their “J” or “B” visa.

The expectations for each invited scholar are spelled out in the Letter of Invite template (PDF).

Hospitality Considerations for a Visiting Scholar

The faculty member or department extending the invitation must be prepared to host the visitor throughout the visit. International visitors to our campus should be well received. There are both logistical and culturally relevant considerations. Hosting responsibilities include the following:

  • Give prior consideration to accommodations for the visiting scholar. Visitors are responsible for their own living arrangements and related expenses, such as food, parking, and entertainment, but the host can provide information about local accommodations (e.g., rentals or hotels).
  • Consider transportation needs for the visitor. The host or designee will arrange for airport pickup and return, or will provide information about how to reach campus and what to do once arrived.
  • Identify a suitable work space for the visitor, if needed. Office space must be approved by the appropriate department chair and college dean. Access to a WSU computer if one is needed (e.g. a rentable laptop) should be coordinated by the host department.
  • Help the visitor be introduced to the campus and the community. This may include hosting a reception for them, introducing them to department members and/or other university staff, giving them a tour of campus and the larger community, etc. Make available access to university resources (library, WSU email, etc.) as appropriate.
  • Generally orient the visitor – how to get around, what resources are available, etc. Help the visitor connect to ongoing campus, community, and regional events and opportunities.

Visiting scholars are expected to have their own funding; WSU does not pay a stipend or salary. In those rare cases where a visiting scholar will have specific work responsibilities while on campus, faculty/department host must be in contact with Human Resources very early in the process and before a letter of invitation is sent to the scholar.

The visitor may need to be hired as a fixed term or adjunct faculty member. If the scholar will be fixed term faculty, the Dean must send HR a Creditable Experience Form and curriculum vitae so HR can complete a salary calculation and determine the benefit package. On the other hand, if the scholar’s work does not fall under the guidelines of the IFO contract, HR’s participation in the process is over.

The visiting scholar must receive a formal letter of invitation which is coordinated by the Center for Global Education.

Typically the letter is signed by the Chair of the Department hosting the scholar, but it may also be signed by the Dean of that department’s College, the Assistant Vice President of the Center for Global Education, the Provost, or another university administrator when appropriate.

The letter of invite must clarify both the scholar's and the university's commitments related to funding, compensation, teaching, lecturing, and/or research responsibilities. This letter will be an important part of the visitor’s visa application documentation.

The WSU host faculty member or department chair must work with the office of International Student and Scholar Services to determine the type of visa needed (“B” visa or “J” visa). This office will also assist the visiting scholar with the visa application and immigration process.

  1. The “J” visa is for a) professors/research scholars or for b) short-term scholars.
  • Professors/research scholars may engage in research, teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting at research institutions, corporate research facilities, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited educational institutions, or similar types of institutions in the United States. The U.S. Department of State requires that research scholars entering the U.S. on J-1 visas demonstrate that they have proficiency in English sufficient to conduct their proposed research project. Further guidelines include:
    • Cannot be a candidate for a tenure track position.
    • Must not have participated in and completed a professor or research scholar program within the last 24 months preceding the beginning date of their new program’s commencement.
    • Not have participated in a J-Visa program for all or part of the 12-month period immediately preceding the start date unless they meet one of the following exceptions:
      • The participant is currently in a professor or research scholar program and is transferring to another institution in the U.S. to continue their current J-1 program.
      • The participants’ s prior physical presence in the U.S. on a J-visa program was less than six months in duration; and
      • The prior participation was as a short-term scholar.
  • Short-term Scholars - These scholars may come to the U.S. to lecture, observe, consult, and to participate in seminars, workshops, conferences, study tours, professional meetings, or similar types of educational and professional activities. Further guidelines include:
    • The maximum duration of stay is six months;
    • No program extension will be considered; and
    • No change of category will be considered.

2. A "B" visitor may accept only honoraria and associated incidental expenses (not salary for employment), if ALL of the following criteria are met:

  • Usual academic activities (lectures, conferences, teaching, presentations, etc.) conducted at an education or non-profit research institution.
  • Activities conducted for the benefit of the paying institution.
  • Activities lasting only nine (9) days or less.
  • Accept such payment from only six (6) institutions during any 180-day period.

Visiting scholars must have adequate English proficiency in order to participate in the visiting scholar program, as required by the U.S. Department of State. When you first talk with the Center for Global Education about your proposed visitor, you will be asked whether the participant has adequate English proficiency and how this assessment was conducted (e.g., phone conversation, writing sample, video conferencing, etc.).

Visiting scholars are required to show proof of financial support for the duration of their program participation. In general no honoraria or salary is provided to a visiting scholar because they are expected to have their own funding. Please note that if the scholar is performing any responsibilities that are covered by the IFO contract, the individual must be compensated accordingly, which is why early consultation with HR is so important. In those rare cases where the scholar is to receive compensation from a WSU College or department, Human Resources will ensure all federal and state regulations are met and will manage the appointment process.

ISSS will work with the department and the scholar to gather the documents necessary for proof of financial support. The minimum financial support that is required is:

  • $1,000 / month for J-1 Exchange Visitor
  • $500 / month for J-2 Dependent Spouse (if applicable)
  • $500 / month for each J-2 Dependent Child (if applicable)

All financial documents must be current at the time of application in order to be considered valid. Appropriate documents reflecting financial ability include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Bank statement, stamped or signed by a bank official
  • Affidavit of support, submitted by sponsor & accompanied by financial verification
  • Scholarship letter from sponsoring organization outlining dates and terms of scholarships
  • Letter from employer stating earnings for period of requested stay
  • Contract listing areas of support


Health insurance is mandatory and scholars must prove they have insurance or will purchase it on arrival. They may work with ISSS for assistance with this. The medical insurance must cover the following as required by the U.S. Department of State:

  • At least $50,000 per person, per accident/per illness
  • $7,500 for repatriation of remains
  •  $10,000 for medical evacuation
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident/per illness

1. Visit International Student & Scholar Services. Upon arrival to Winona, the visiting scholar must visit ISSS to confirm their arrival and to complete the SEVIS check-in process. The following information is needed to complete the check-in process:

  • Passport
  • I-94
  • Proof of health insurance.
  • Address in the US


2. Visit the Social Security Office. To secure a Social Security Number (SSN), the scholar must visit the Winona Social Security Office in person at 53 East 3rd Street. The visitor must present their passport and visa, DS-2019, and Form I-94 to apply for a SSN. The scholar must visit ISSS to complete SEVIS check-in before applying for the SSN. To obtain a Faculty Identification Card, Tech ID, email access, and library privileges a visiting scholar must have a SSN. In addition, a visiting scholar must have a SSN to be entered into and be paid through WSU payroll. Payroll will not be administered until the SSN is provided to Human Resources.

3. Visit Human Resources (if the scholar will be receiving compensation). Once the scholar has a SSN, the next visit must be to Human Resources if the scholar has been hired as an adjunct or fixed term faculty. Human Resources will issue a token to initiate the onboarding process which assigns a STAR ID, Warrior ID and email account. The Chairperson/department will then assign the scholar to courses in Term Course which feeds the Faculty Workload Management system. The scholar will complete an I-9 form and present HR with original immigration documents, so HR can determine tax residency status. HR will schedule an appointment with the scholar to review documents and benefits. Benefits will vary based on workload. In order to make sure this process is completed prior to the start of the scholar’s assignment; the visitor should be advised to arrive in Winona as early as possible – preferably 10 days to 2 weeks prior to the start of the academic year. Failure to obtain a SSN will result in a delayed start date.

4. Provide a Department/University Orientation. The WSU host should provide an orientation to WSU and the hosting department. This should include helping the visitor understand University and department policies and procedures; find important offices such as the Library, Tech Support, or Human Resources; and meet members of the WSU faculty and staff.


  1. Confer with the Center for Global Education about your interest in or pending invitation to a visiting scholar. This will also ensure that staff in ISSS becomes involved to determine which visa is required.
  2. Secure approval to host the visiting scholar (from department chair, Dean, Provost, etc.).
  3. Identify the faculty member/department who will serve as host for the duration of the scholar’s stay. 
  4. In the rare cases will the visiting scholar will be paid by Winona State and/or have work responsibilities that fall under the IFO contract, meet with Human Resources.
  5. If the scholar will not be paid by Winona State, you will need to request that a Non-WSU account be created for them. This will aid you and the scholar in obtaining a StarID, email address, laptop, Warrior ID card, and many other amenities on campus. Visit Network/Non-WSU Account Wiki page for more information and to make that request.
  6. Housing is not provided for visiting scholars. In those rare cases where there may be an exception to this, meet with the Director of Housing to learn whether there is on-campus availability, or provide other information to the scholar such as rental or hotel accommodations.
  7. Ask the Center for Global Education to issue the letter of invitation.
  8. Greet and welcome the visiting scholar. Escort them to ISSS, and then to HR (if relevant).
  9. Introduce them to campus and colleagues.