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The I-Center welcomes international students, scholars and faculty from around the world. Our office support all Departments from Tufts University and Tufts Medical Center.

Visa Request Procedures

The I-Center relies on the Departments to provide us with appointment information that may include but is not limited to dates, title, salary, location, and more. The I-Center staff will guide the Departments on selecting the appropriate visa category for their employees and visitors. Please use this page as a resource to complete and submit visa requests for new and current employees.

J-1 Exchange Visitor

Visa Eligibility

Overview of the J -1 Exchange Visitor Program

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program allows academic institutions and other educational exchange programs to sponsor foreign nationals to participate in educational and cultural programs in the United States. Tufts University has been approved by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) to serve as the visa sponsor for international visitors to participate in research, teaching and degree programs at Tufts.

The J-1 visa program is managed by a shared database called SEVIS (Student Exchange Visitor Information System).

Eligibility for J-1 Visa Sponsorship

To be eligible for the J-1 visa an individual must meet the following criteria:

  • Possess adequate financial support for all living expenses, including additional financial support for any accompanying family members either from Tufts or any other sources.
  • Must have an academic appointment  for research or teaching at Tufts. Tenure-track positions do not qualify for the visa.

View an Estimate of Expenses for Scholars Visiting Tufts

  • Ensure health insurance for the duration of the J-1 Exchange Visitor's program at Tufts.  The health insurance must comply with the requirements set by the Department of State.  
  • Must possess sufficient proficiency in the English language to participate in the program.

Visa Categories 

Research Scholar/Professor

J-1 visa holders in the Research Scholar or Professor category may remain in the United States for a minimum of three weeks and for up to five years. 

Short-Term Scholar

A professor, research scholar, specialist, or a person with similar education or accomplishments coming to the United States on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills may remain in the United States for up to six months. No extensions are permitted beyond six months. 

Learn More About the J-1 Visa

J-1 Scholars Already in the U.S. 

A J-1 Scholar that is already present in the U.S. working at another U.S. institution could transfer their visa sponsorship to Tufts University as long as the scholar J-1 status has not reached the maximum period of time allowed by their J-1 visa category.  This process must be carefully coordinated between the I-Center and the current sponsoring institution.

Learn About J-1 Visa Transfer Procedures

Inviting a New J-1 Scholar

Effective, Monday, August 19, 2019, the I-Center will transition to a new Immigration Portal. The International Scholar Dossier (ISD) will no longer be used for J-1 scholar application intake.

New Process for J-1 Visa Document Requests

In order to process an application for a J-1 scholar, the requestor must complete the following steps:

1. Requestor (usually a department admin) must be added to the International Center database for access. Contact internationalcenter@tufts.edu if you do not yet have access to the system, for further instructions, or to make any inquiries regarding the system.

2. Requestor must complete and submit a series of questionnaires in ONE sitting/session on the International Center Portal.

 a. Due to the nature of this process, it is strongly recommended that any requestor review the following guide so that they are sure they have the required information necessary to process a request:

 Initial J-1 Preparation Guide for Administrators

 3. Upon preparing the required information, follow the Request Link  below to begin working on the online application:

J-1 Scholar Visa Document Request

 a. Tufts University employees must use their Tufts username (UTLN) and password to log in.

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Portal UTLN Login

 b. Non-Tufts University employees from affiliated hospitals must user their work email as their username. Upon receiving a credentials information email, you will be able to set up a password and security questions.

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Portal Email Login

4. Upon accessing the application, the requestor must add the scholar into the I-Center Portal Database. If the scholar is visiting your Department for the first time, please add them as a new user by typing their email address. Click "Next" and proceed to type the scholar's first name, last name and gender. Lastly, click "Create New" to add the scholar and proceed to answer the appointment related questions.

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Add New User

If the scholar has previously visited your Department, please type the scholar's email that has been previously used for an application. Upon finding the record, select "Yes" to proceed to add new appointment information for the new visit.

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User Email Found

If you would like to search for the visitor's email address on file, please click on the "Profile" tab on the Portal menu and type the visitor's last name or first name to prompt a search.

5. Requestor must respond if any questions or concerns are sent by International Center staff upon review of information provided by the requestor.

Once information is submitted by the requestor, an automatic invitation will be sent to the invitee email address provided by the requestor. The invitee will complete the remaining information necessary for  International Center staff to produce immigration documents.

The International Center will contact requestor and invitee with further information once documents have been issued.

Extending a J-1 Scholar

Effective, Monday, August 19, 2019, the I-Center will transition to a new Immigration Portal. The International Scholar Dossier (ISD) will no longer be used for J-1 scholar application intake.

New Process for J-1 Extension Requests

In order to process an application for a J-1 scholar, the requestor must complete the following steps:

1. Requestor (usually a department admin) must be added to the International Center database for access. Contact internationalcenter@tufts.edu if you do not yet have access to the system, for further instructions, or to make any inquiries regarding the system.

2. Requestor must complete and submit a series of questionnaires in ONE sitting/session on the International Center Portal.

 a. Due to the nature of this process, it is strongly recommended that any requestor review the following guide so that they are sure they have the required information necessary to process a request:

 J-1 Extension Preparation Guide for Administrators

 3. Upon preparing the required information follow the Request Link  below to begin working on the online application:

J-1 Extension Request Application

a. Tufts University employees must use their Tufts username (UTLN) and password to log in.

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Portal UTLN Login

b. Non-Tufts University employees from affiliated hospitals must user their work email as their username. Upon receiving a credentials information email, you will be able to set up a password and security questions.

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Portal Email Login

To initiate a J-1 Extension record, please type the work email address of the scholar and click "add". If the work email address does not produce a result, please type the scholar's personal email address. Do not create a duplicated user record.

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Add New User

Upon finding the record, select "Yes" to proceed to complete the J-1 Extension Request Application.

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User Email Found

4. Requestor must respond if any questions or concerns are sent by International Center staff upon review of information provided by the requestor.

Once information is submitted by the requestor, an automatic invitation will be sent to the scholar email address provided by the requestor. The scholar will complete the remaining information necessary for  International Center staff to process the extension request and issue an updated DS-2019.

The International Center will email requestor and scholar once the extension has been approved.

 

H-1B Temporary Worker

Visa Eligibility

Overview of the H -1B Visa

The H-1B temporary worker visa is designated for individuals coming temporarily to the United States to work in a "specialty occupation." A specialty occupation is defined as one that requires "theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum requirement."

The Tufts University hiring department must provide documentation to prove that the job meets the definition of "specialty occupation" as defined above.

The H-1B visa is employer specific, which means that a USCIS approved petition that was submitted by the International Center authorizes the international employee to work only in the position specified.

The Department is also responsible for the cost of return transportation abroad if the employee is dismissed before petition period expires.

Six-Year Maximum Length of Stay

H-1B visa holders are eligible for a total maximum stay of six years. The six-year limit includes time spent on the H-1B visa with another employer. The initial H-1B petition may cover a period up to three years. Extension petitions may be made for a period of three years or less, up to the six year total.

Since this six-year limit is strictly enforced, it is important to plan accordingly. It may be possible to begin another six-year period as an H-1B visa holder after the individual has spent at least one year outside the United States.

Exceptions to the six-year rule: If an individual is at a certain stage in the application of permanent residence, s/he may be eligible for an extension beyond the 6-year maximum. The International Center may work with the individual to determine if s/he is eligible for the extension beyond the 6-year maximum.

Requesting an Initial H-1B

Department Requests to the International Center

 The process to submit an H-1B petition can be lengthy. The I-Center will work with the sponsoring Department to file the following documentation:

  • Labor Condition Application (Department of Labor)
  • H-1B Alien Petition on Form I-129 and its supplements (USCIS) . 

We urge Departments to submit their complete H-1B requests six months in advance of the proposed start date.To request an initial H-1B visa for a prospective or current employee, read the information on the H-1B packet form and complete the following forms:

  • Department Request Form (DRF)
  • Wages Verification Form
  • Prospective Employee's Identification and Academic Documents

Download the H-1B Packet

If you are submitting an application on behalf of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, please complete the supplement form for the Prevailing Wage Determination. This process may take three to four months to be processed by the Department of Labor. 

Prospective H-1B employees must complete the H-1B Questionnaire. 

Download the H-1B Questionnarie 

Premium Processing Fee Increase

On October 1, 2018 fees form I-907 Petition for Premium Processing will increase from $1,225 to $1,410. All H1B petitions submitted for premium processing and received by USCIS on or after October 1, 2018 will need to include the new fee.

Extending an H-1B

Required Paperwork

The H-1B extension process is identical in paperwork requirements as it is for an initial H-1B application. An H-1B extension petition will require a new labor condition application (LCA) along with new supporting documents. The employee must re-submit the H-1B Questionnaire.

Application Time Frame

  • A petition must be filed before the current H-1B status ends in order to allow an individual to maintain status and continue to remain on payroll. The earliest an extension can be filed with USCIS is 6 months prior to the end date of the current H-1B status.
  • If a petition is filed in a timely manner, an individual in H-1B status is authorized to continue to work and be paid for up to 240 days after the expiration of his/her current H-1B status.

The International Center will send a letter to the appointing department once the extension petition has been filed with USCIS to verify an individual's eligibility for continuing work authorization, if requested.

Trade NAFTA (TN) Visa

Visa Eligibility

Overview

The TN visa program is the immigration component of The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which enables citizens of Canada and Mexico to be admitted to the United States to engage in "business activities at a professional level" in certain occupations.

TN status is employer specific and may be granted for an initial period of up to three years, and this status may be extended indefinitely in three-year increments. The profession must be on the list of qualifying positions and:

  • The individual must have at least a bachelor's degree or appropriate credentials demonstrating status as a professional.
  •  The individual must possess the requisite educational background and experience for that position.
  • The individual must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico.
  •  The individual must have a prearranged job that is not self-employment.

Canadian citizens apply for TN status at the U.S. port of entry. Mexican citizens must apply for TN visas in a U.S. embassy or consulate in advance. 

Read more information about the TN visa

Requesting a TN Visa

Initial and Extension Visa Request

International Center staff can help make the determination whether the TN visa is appropriate for an employee. The TN visa is a temporary visa category and is not appropriate for permanent positions.

For TN visa requests through the I-Center, please complete the TN Visa Application and submit via email to your Department's I-Center advisor.

The advisor will review the request, and if approved, they will issue a TN invitation letter for the employee to apply for TN status/visa at the U.S. port of entry or Embassy.

Who is your Department Advisor?

Download the TN Visa Application

Other Visa Options

B1/B2 Visitor

Overview

The B1/B2 visitor visa is most often used for individuals who come to campus to give a lecture or to participate in a seminar or colloquium. While most short-term academic appointments use the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa, which is relatively quick and easy to obtain, on rare occasions it may be possible for an individual to use the Visitor Visa (either the B-1 Visa obtained from a U.S. consulate or the Visa Waiver for Business.) These visitor visas are not “sponsored” by Tufts and their success and ease of use are less predictable.

B-1 Visa and the Purpose of the Travel

Acceptable Payments

  • B-1 and WB visa holders can be paid for honorarium.
  • B-2 and WT visa holders can be reimbursed for expenses and paid honorarium.
  • Activities connected to honorariums cannot exceed a nine-day period.
  • The honorarium can be from different institutions, but it cannot exceed a total of six payments.

In order to be paid for either an honorarium or reimbursed for expenses, he/she must have either a Social Security Number (if he or she has already obtained one while previously in the U.S. in a different visa category which was social security number eligible) OR must apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), which takes approximately 6 weeks to process. An individual may apply for an ITIN Number from overseas prior to entering the U.S. by completing and submitting IRS W-7 form to the IRS. Departments must plan ahead when thinking of sponsoring anyone on any of these temporary visas. Questions can be directed to Accounts Payable.

If you would like to invite an individual as a B-1 Visitor, please complete the B-1 Travel Letter.

Download the B-1 Visitor Travel Letter

O-1: Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

Overview 

O-1 visa classification

The visa available for those to work within their field who have demonstrated they have extraordinary ability. The O-1 visa classification includes aliens having sustained national or international acclaim for extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, and athletics, or aliens having a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture and television industries. This category requires considerable documentation and is best reserved for the most highly qualified guest professors, researchers, and artists with a high level of expertise.

O-1 Petition

The initial period can be up to three years with one-year extensions allowed. There is no limit on the time an O-1 can remain in the U.S. as long as he/she continues the same work. If the employer terminates the employment early, the employer is responsible for reasonable costs of returning the alien to his or her last place of residence before the alien's entry to the U.S.

To learn if a prospective employee qualifies for an O-1 visa, please contact the International Center

F-1 OPT, STEM OPT, and CPT

Tufts Departments are free to hire non-Tufts F-1 visa holders who have authorized employment as required by U.S. immigration regulations. The I-Center does not process employment authorization documents for non-Tufts F-1 students. Please review the following information to learn about the authorization documents for each benefit.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

An international F-1 student from a different institution, could engage in an internship experience at Tufts with the authorization of the host institution. CPT is employer specific and it is authorized on the second page of the Form I-20. The Tufts supervisor must work with the prospective intern to complete the required paperwork for the student's home institution. 

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

F-1 visa holders can apply for a 12-month employment authorization period prior or after completing their degree program. An employee on OPT must possess an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) before beginning their employment at Tufts. An OPT recommendation on the Form I-20 is not valid to complete a Form I-9.

STEM Extension OPT

An F-1 visa holder who has completed a degree in a STEM designated field, as recognized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), can apply for an extension of their F-1 OPT benefit for an additional period of 24 months. The employee must work with the hiring supervisor and/or Human Resources to complete the Form I-983, Training Plan for STEM Students. The I-Center does not oversee the process for completing such form.  

After completing the Form I-983, F-1 OPT employees will work with their Designated School Officials to process the new Form I-20 and submit an application for the STEM Extension OPT to USCIS. The approval for a STEM Extension OPT may take up to 4 months. Employees who have submitted a timely application with USCIS will be allowed to continue their employment with Tufts with an expired EAD card for a period of 180 days from the date that the application was received by USCIS. 

Learn More About Hiring an F-1 STEM OPT Employee