Visa Sponsorships for International Scholars, Faculty or Staff
Departments that offer invitations/employment to internationals will need to request that 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 Immigration Services. 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).
Our office should be consulted before making a commitment to hire a foreign national. Our immigration advisors 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 Immigration Services Sponsorship Policies Governing International Scholars, Researchers, Faculty and Staff.
College Nominations of International Students for Out-of-State Tuition Waivers
The Office of International Education is allotted a limited number of out-of-state tuition waivers that can be awarded to outstanding international students who are nominated by their department or College. Nominations are awarded on a rolling basis, so applying early is advantageous. Click on the link below for an information sheet on the nomination process:
For detailed information on other areas of service, click on the links below:
- Visa Category Options
- Visiting Research Scholar - Unpaid
- iStart Departmental User Guide
- Join the Departmental Visa Information List-Serv
- International Scholar / Faculty Caseload Division (find your immigration advisor)
- Visa Sponsorship Costs to the Department
- Processing Timeframes
- Ad hoc Academic Program Proposal process
- More options
- An informational document regarding various visa options: Visa and PR Options at UGA
- PowerPoint regarding the different visa categories: Visa Sponsorship Options at UGA
Immigration Services has an online portal where departments can submit requests for visa sponsorship. This portal is called iStart and can be accessed at istart.uga.edu.
- 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.
- In order to request a visa sponsorship for an international coming to your department, you should submit a visa sponsorship request through the iStart portal. Please see the iStart Departmental User Guide, which explains how to request access to iStart and submit visa sponsorship requests.
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.
- For J-1 exchange visitor, H-1B work visa, or Permanent Residency sponsorship: You should access our new iStart system at istart.uga.edu. Detailed instructions can be found here: iStart Departmental User Guide
- O-1, E-3 or TN sponsorship: You can request these types of visa sponsorships through our iStart portal as well: istart.uga.edu.
The office of Immigration Services has a 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 Immigration Services 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 Immigration Services 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: https://listserv.uga.edu/cgi-bin/wa?HOME
- Search for the list: VISAINFO-L
- Click on “Join or leave the list”
- Enter your email address and your full name
- Click on the button “Join the list” at the bottom of the page
Please find the immigration scholar / faculty advisor assigned to your College or School: Scholar-Faculty Caseload Division
The Immigration Services office is set up as a cost recovery program by UGA. As a result, we are required to charge sponsoring departments fees for services provided. The hiring department is required to pay all institutional and government filing fees / costs related to the sponsorship process for any employment sponsored visa. Under federal regulations, the fees and costs cannot be paid by the international 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/Immigration Services Fee Information. These fees will be increasing by 2% as of July 1st, 2015.
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.
- J-1 initial processing with consular visa application: 1 to 3 months
- J-1 change of status from within the U.S.: 2 to 5 months
- H-1B intial processing with consular visa application - regular processing: 2 to 5 months
- H-1B initial processing with consular visa application - premium processing: 2 to 3 months
- H-1B change of status processing - regular processing: 2 to 5 months
- H-1B change of status processing - premium processing: 2 to 3 months
- H-1B portability case (person is already in the U.S. and holding valid H-1B status): 2 to 3 months
- O-1 with premium processing: 3 to 6 months
- TN - port of entry notice: 2 to 4 weeks
- E-3 with visa application abroad: 2 to 4 months
- Permanent residency - varies widely, but 18 months is best case; it can take up to 5 or 10 years depending on the citizenship of the international employee
- Host or hire a J-1 researcher/scholar
- Hire an H-1B international researcher, faculty or staff member
- Hire an international student
- Sponsor an international employee for U.S. permanent residency
- Invite an unpaid international guest lecturer or visitor to campus
- Get I-9 process information
- Sponsor an employee for O-1, E-3 or TN status
- Learn how to use the iStart portal for visa sponsorship requests
- Find ways to bring international students to campus (outside of a regular degree program)