Visiting Scholars/Exchange Visitors

California State University, Fullerton welcomes visiting scholars, also known as Exchange Visitors (EV), for stays of varying duration in order to conduct research, teach and/or consult with faculty members at the university. Such visits are in keeping with the university's mission and goals, which express its aspiration "to combine the best qualities of teaching and research universities" and its commitment to "promote collaborative and innovative exchanges with other educational institutions." Visiting scholars from abroad may especially contribute to the internationalizing of a campus that sees itself as "a regional university with a global outlook."

Visiting foreign scholars and faculty are participants in the "Exchange Visitor Program" regulated and operated by the U.S. Department of State.

As a Program Sponsor, CSUF is authorized by the State Department to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program. A host of complex regulations limit the conditions and circumstances under which we can invite an Exchange Visitor and severely restrict the activities of the Exchange Visitor and dependents while in the United States. A visiting scholar may be invited as an EV in one of the following J-1 non-immigrant visa categories:

J-1 Visa Category Intent/Main Activity Duration of Program
1. Professor Teach/lecture in the EV’s area of expertise Minimum 3 weeks; Maximum 5 years *
2. Research Scholar Conduct research in the EV’s area of expertise Minimum 3 weeks; Maximum 5 years *
3. Short-Term Scholar Engage in short-term activities related to the EV’s area of expertise e.g. engage in research projects, guest lecture, conduct master classes, etc. Minimum 1 day;
Maximum 6 months

(Note: NO extension is allowed; there are no exceptions)

Other visa eligibility requirements:

  • An exchange visitor cannot be a candidate for tenure track position.
  • An exchange visitor cannot be hired on campus as a graduate assistant while engaging in intended activity throughout his/her stay.
  • EV's in categories 1 and 2 are not eligible for repeat participation in the same category for a period of 2 years (24 months) after the end of the program.
  • Note: this rule does NOT apply to short-term scholars.
Although the maximum time is 5 years, it is our current practice to recommend initially one year with the possibility of extension. Evidence of financial support must reflect the entire duration of program at time of initial application.


The process of facilitating an Exchange Visitor's temporary stay on campus involves the following steps:

  • Faculty initiates the invitation by completing the Visiting Scholar Application.
  • Faculty obtains approval of the proposed visit by appropriate department chair and college dean.
  • Faculty submits the completed Visiting Scholar Application to It is recommended that forms be submitted at least three months in advance of the EV's anticipated arrival date to allow for visa processing. Depending on the US Embassy, visa application processing times may vary.
  • The International Students and Scholars (ISS) office emails "DS-2019 Request Form" to Exchange Visitor requesting personal data and evidence of financial support.
  • The US Department of State (DOS) requires that all prospective/new exchange visitors coming to US universities in J-1 status demonstrate sufficient English proficiency and documentation before the University may issue the DS-2019 documentation needed to bring the scholar here and to participate in his or her program on a day-to-day basis. The program sponsor must verify an applicant's English language proficiency using one of the following accepted procedures:
    Language Assessment Minimum Score
    TOEFL iBT 57
    TOEFL PBT 500
    IELTS 5.0
    TOEIC L&R 275
    TOEIC S&W 120
    Cambridge ESOL Examinations PET
    Pearson Test of English 2 Intermediate
    Option 1: Native Speaker. Applicant may submit evidence of citizenship of a country whose official language is English.
    Option 2: Recognized English Language Test. Applicants must show evidence of having obtained the minimum required scores on a recognized English language test.
    Option 3: Completion of Bachelor's or Higher Degree Where English is the Language of Instruction. Applicants who have completed a bachelor’s or graduate degree at a recognized institution of higher learning in the U.S. or another country where English is the primary/official language may use this option. Applicant must submit a copy of their diploma with the DS-2019 application materials.
    Option 4: Documented English Proficiency Interview. J-1 English Proficiency Interview Assessment Report from an interview conducted in English by the program sponsor with the prospective exchange visitor. The interview can be conducted in person, via Skype or other videoconferencing method; or if videoconferencing is not available, telephone.
  • Upon receipt of all required documents, the Associate Vice President for International Programs issues a formal invitation letter.
  • A Form DS-2019 is issued by the International Students and Scholars office and express mailed to EV together with the formal invitation letter and other pre-arrival information such as procedures for visa application, purchase of health insurance, etc.
  • The actual J-1 visa for the Exchange Visitor is issued by a U.S. Consulate or Embassy overseas.

Exchange Visitor Responsibilities

  • The EV will have sufficient funds for the duration of the proposed activity including funding support for family members, if any. EV's providing personal funds will be required to submit financial evidence of U.S. $2500 per month, and an additional $500 per dependent. This information will be sent to the visiting scholar from the ISS office.
  • EVs are required to purchase mandatory health insurance for themselves and dependents. It is the responsibility of the EV to purchase the health insurance policy upon arrival.
  • The EV will inform ISS staff when the following occurs:
    • Changes in financial support
    • The EV plans to travel outside the country during their program and needs a travel signature.
    • Changes of address, contact information or emergency contact information
    • The EV's program ends earlier than the date originally printed on the DS-2019
    • The EV would like to add a dependent on their DS-2019
    • The EV will be extending the date of their program
    • The EV plans to transfer out to another program/university