Hosting & Hiring International Scholars
ISSS works with academic departments and the Office of Academic Affairs in assisting departments in the invitation of visiting international researchers and the hiring of international faculty and research scholars. ISSS helps departments understand the pertinent federal regulations and determine the appropriate visa classification, and prepares US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) petitions and Department of Labor documents to hire individuals who are not permanent residents or citizens of the United States.
There are four main visa types to utilize in the invitation of visiting scholars or hiring of international faculty and researchers (Tourist, J-1, H-1B and TN). The university also supports departments in permanent residence petitions (green card) for qualified permanent faculty. Departments are encouraged to contact ISSS as early as possible in the invitation or hiring process. Petition and visa processing can take three to six months to complete for the J-1, H-1B, and TN visa statuses. Permanent residence petitions may take substantially longer due to the complex application process.
The J-1 non-immigrant visa category for exchange visitors is used for international scholars, professors, and researchers coming to the university on temporary and short-term appointments for a maximum of five years. The eligible participant must at minimum hold the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in their field of research or teaching, but may NOT be a candidate for a tenure track position. J-1 Exchange Visitor scholars or professors may be paid or unpaid by PSU, but are required to have sufficient funding for their stay in the United States.
H-1B is a nonimmigrant visa status for those individuals intending to work in the United States on a temporary basis. The individual must be a professional who has a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and will be working in a “specialty occupation.” The maximum stay permitted in H-1B status is usually 6 years, and the maximum period that can be requested in a single H-1B petition is 3 years. PSU supports H-1B petitions for full-time positions only.
TN is a non-immigrant visa status available to Canadian and Mexican citizens working in certain occupations, most of which require at least a bachelor’s degree. As it is meant for temporary employment, TN status is not suitable for tenure-track positions. TN status is granted in increments of up to 3 years. In order to obtain TN status, the employee usually applies at the US border (Canadian citizens) or consulate (Mexican citizens).
A department wishing to hire a foreign citizen in a tenured or tenure-track position should contact ISSS before making an offer of employment. The qualifications of the candidate must be reviewed to determine whether the university can sponsor the individual for employment-based permanent residence and whether the department’s recruitment process meets the conditions that allow that to happen.
PSU usually requires that the beneficiary of a permanent resident petition be employed in a position leading to indefinite tenure. If Labor Certification is necessary, the department should contact the International Faculty Advisor as soon as possible after the position is offered to the foreign national.
B-1/B-2, Visa Waivers and Other Non-Citizens at PSU
Independent visitors generally travel to the US in either a B-1 (Visitor for Business), B-2 (Visitor for Tourism), WB (Visa Waiver eligible and in the US as a business visitor) or WT (Visa Waiver eligible and in the US as a tourist). These visitors may be paid an honorarium, a per diem and/or reimbursed for travel expenses for activities lasting no longer than 9 business days, from no more than 5 academic institutions in the US within the past six months.