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Other Common Visas for Faculty and Scholars

Please note: As of January 20, 2010, faculty traveling to the United States under the Visa Waiver program, must now apply for online authorization. Please go to www.cbp.gov/esta to complete the required forms. You will not be able to board a flight to the United States unless you have completed an application and have been authorized to travel.

B-Category Visas

For short-term business or pleasure, with no paid employment

The B-1 visa category is for visitors coming to the United States for short-term visits for business, and the B-2 is for short-term visits for pleasure. The visa is often issued as B-1/B-2 to most applicants and is usually for up to 90 days. There is no paid employment under this category, although it may be possible to reimburse the visitor for travel expenses or pay an honorarium. This particular visa is appropriate for foreign faculty who are visiting Smith College for several days but less then a total of nine days. They may engage in a symposium, attend a conference or give several lectures.

F-1 Visa

For recent graduates of F-1 visa programs who are working in a capacity related to their academic course of study

The F-1 visa is the most common student visa used by international students at both the undergraduate and post-graduate levels. Students who study and complete their degree on an F-1 visa are often eligible to apply for a limited-term work authorization, known as Optional Practical Training (OPT). Visiting scholars or faculty who have recently completed their PhD or another eligible degree program on an F-1 visa may already have the legal right to work in the U.S. in a position that directly correlates to their course of study. Students on OPT will have up to one year of work authorization, although students in certain STEM fields may be eligible for an extension of up to 17 additional months. Anyone coming to work at Smith under the auspices of F-1 visa OPT should have their paperwork checked by the International Students and Scholars Office prior to beginning employment.

H-1B Visa

For permanent appointments of faculty and researchers, or for tenure-track faculty members

Departments who are hiring foreign faculty currently in the United States, or are interested in changing the status for a certain faculty member to extend their appointment, should consult with the office for International Students & Scholars to determine if the position is eligible for H-1B status. For permanent appointments of faculty and researchers, or for tenure-track faculty members, the H-1B visa status is the most appropriate.

The college provides a combination of grant and loan assistance to faculty members who are applying for H-1B visa status. All applications and processing for this type of visa is currently handled by the Immigration Law Offices of Curran & Berger Associates in Northampton.

O-1 Visa (Workers of Extraordinary Ability)

For those with world-wide reputation of schoarly work and research; eligible to receive payment

This particular type of visa is reserved for individuals who have a world-wide reputation of scholarly work and research. The O-1 visas are employer specific which means that in most cases they are employed by the institution which issues the O-1 visa much like the H-1b. They cannot be paid honoraria nor can they be reimbursed for expenses by another institution or employer. In some cases O-1 visas are issued to persons in the arts who are sponsored by an agent or agency through which they can act as independent contractors. They may engage in performances and other incidental work that relates to the main purpose of the O-1 visa, and therefore be eligible to receive payment.

TN Visa

For scholars from Canada and Mexico

The TN program is part of the NAFTA agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico and it allows citizens of those countries to be admitted to the United States to engage in paid employment at a professional level in certain fields. TN visa may be extended indefinitely in one-year increments.

The application procedure for TN status for Mexicans is similar to H-1b processing and classification and may take much longer.

The procedures for Canadian citizens for initial TN visa application as well as extensions are done at the border/airport at the time of entry to the United States. The spouse and unmarried children under 21 of TN visa holders are eligible for TD status, however they are not permitted to engage in any employment.