Information for Sponsoring UGA Departments

Visa Sponsorship

Departments that offer invitations/employment to scholars will need to request that ISSIS (International Student Scholar Immigration Services) issue any necessary immigration documents the scholar will require for obtaining a visa to enter the U.S., or for obtaining the correct legal status to allow employment at UGA. Information on how departments should request a sponsorship is below.

In general, the type of activity and purpose of the visit will determine what type of visa will be required. The decision about the type of visa is primarily the responsibility of the department and ISSIS. Visa sponsorship means that the University of Georgia has agreed to assist the scholar with the process of obtaining a visa in order to come to the U.S., or with the process of transferring or changing an existing legal status, for either employment at UGA or participation in UGA's Exchange Visitor Program. The most common visa types among UGA scholars are J-1 (Exchange Visitor) and H-1B (Temporary Worker in a Specialty Occupation).

The ISSIS office at UGA should be consulted before making a commitment to hire a foreign national. ISSIS will work with the hiring department, as well as the individual, to ensure that all federal laws and regulations are met before employment begins. Effective July 1, 2007, the University instituted the ISSIS Sponsorship Policies Governing International Scholars, Researchers, Faculty and Staff.


Visa Category Options

Information on various visa options can be found here: Visa and PR Options at UGA

We also have a PowerPoint regarding the different visa categories, here: Options - UGA.pptx

If you are not sure which type of visa sponsorship your international employee will require, please click here for an information form that will guide you through an assessment process to determine the appropriate visa type.

UGA Process for Hosting an Unpaid Visiting Research Scholar (VRS):

UGA welcomes the opportunity to host Visiting Researchers and Scholars (VRS), at all levels from undergraduate to faculty/professional, and works to assure that they have a productive visit.

In the interest of providing access to resources for the VRS, while also protecting the VRS and UGA, the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office of International Education will implement new VRS hosting procedures effective May 1, 2014.  The new procedures will start with the faculty sponsor and/or sponsoring unit completing a VRS questionnaire and will include obtaining a Visitor Agreement signed by the VRS as well as an onboarding process.  The full procedure can be found on the OVPR VRS webpage:

Questions about hosting a VRS can be directed to


We are moving to a new system for processing visa sponsorship requests.  This system is called iStart and can be accessed at

Please review our online training PowerPoint for more information on the iStart process:  This is a recorded presentation.  Click on "Slide Show", then "show from the beginning.

Instructions for how to request access to iStart from ISSIS are found here:

Instructions on how to begin a J-1 visa sponsorship request in iStart can be found here:

Requesting a Visa Sponsorship:

Determining the correct visa type can be complex.  Please do contact our office prior to requesting a sponsorship through one of our online forms, to make sure that you are requesting the correct visa type.

  1. If you know your employee will require a J-1 exchange visitor sponsorship, you may click here to complete our online J-1 sponsorship request form.
  2. If you know your employee will require an H-1B work visa sponsorship you may click here to complete our online H-1B sponsorship request form.
  3. If you know you will require an O-1, E-3 or TN sponsorship, please click here to complete the required online request form.


Departmental Visa Information Listserv

The office of International Student Scholar and Immigration Services (ISSIS) is developing a new UGA listserv specifically for information and updates appropriate to UGA Departments interested in, or actively, sponsoring international scholars, faculty, or staff for nonimmigrant or immigrant visas.  This listserv is named VISAINFO-L, and will help to facilitate contacts between our offices.  This list is set to send from ISSIS only important updates to departments; we promise you will not be subjected to dozens of list postings and responses.  Our immediate goal is to be able to update you in a timely fashion with important information pertaining to international sponsorships, relevant government regulations and ISSIS processing and requirements. This list is not appropriate for international students and scholars – we have separate lists setup to facilitate information to those populations (H-1B-L for H-1B visa holders; OIESCHOLAR for J-1 scholars; and OIE-IMMIGRATION for international students).

We strongly urge you, or the appropriate contact in your office, to subscribe to this list.  

To subscribe, go to the UGA listserv site at:

1.  Search for the list: VISAINFO-L

2.  Click on “Join or leave the list”

3.   Enter your email address and your full name

4.   Click on the button “Join the list” at the bottom of the page

Advertising Faculty Rank Positions

If you are planning to open a search for a faculty or teaching position, and you believe that you may receive applications from non-U.S. citizens who will need U.S. permanent residency sponsorship from UGA, please review the following documents:

Advertising in accordance with Department of Labor Requirements (ADD LINK)

You may also click the following link for a powerpoint presentation by HR, EOO, and OIE, on the Faculty Search Process:


International Scholar / Faculty Immigration Caseload Division

Please find the immigration scholar / faculty advisor assigned to your College or School:

ISSIS Scholar-Faculty Caseload Division


Visa Sponsorship Costs

Note that for any employment sponsored visa, the hiring department is required to pay all government filing fees and costs related to the sponsorship process. Under federal regulations, the fees and costs cannot be paid by the interntaional employee. The only fee that can be paid by the international is the government fee for a request for premium processing of certain cases. You can find information on internal costs and government filing fees here: ISCF Fee Information Sheet 


Visa Sponsorship Time frames

Processing times for employment and research visa petitions vary widely. Please use the general timeframes below as guidelines. Note that complicated cases and government delays can add months to these estimates. ISSIS advisors will do their best to expedite every case. We appreciate your patience with delays beyond our control.

  1. J-1 initial processing with consular visa application: 1 to 3 months
  2. J-1 change of status from within the U.S.: 2 to 5 months
  3. H-1B intial processing with consular visa application - regular processing: 2 to 5 months
  4. H-1B initial processing with consular visa application - premium processing: 2 to 3 months
  5. H-1B change of status processing - regular processing: 2 to 5 months
  6. H-1B change of status processing - premium processing: 2 to 3 months
  7. H-1B portability case (person is already in the U.S. and holding valid H-1B status): 2 to 3 months
  8. O-1 with premium processing: 3 to 6 months
  9. TN - port of entry notice: 2 to 4 weeks
  10. E-3 with visa application abroad: 2 to 4 months


International Business and Financial Information:

If you have questions regarding other International Business issues, please see the UGA Information sheet for the appropriate University contact: