Information for Departments
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.
The Health Sciences Campus, Tufts Medical Center and affiliated hospital must contact Neriliz Soto-Gonzalez and Ghenwa Hakim to initiate any request for J-1 and H-1B visas.
The following campuses must request J-1 and H-1B visas as described in the sections below:
- School of Arts & Sciences, & Engineering
- Friedman School of Nutrition
- Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
- Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy
- Human Research Center on Aging (HNRCA)
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 appropiate 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
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
The hosting department must complete the process below to ensure that the I-Center can properly issue an immigration document (DS-2019) for the scholar to apply for a J-1 visa in a timely manner. The hosting department must submit the request at least 1.5 months before the beginning of the appointment.
The I-Center will not process any request until all documents have been received. Please read these instructions carefully.
Steps to be taken by the Hosting Department
Step 1 – Obtain an invitation or offer letter
The hosting department must ensure that an employment or invitation letter for the new faculty or scholar has been issued by the host faculty or Human Resources. The letter must contain detailed information about the appointment, salary, benefits and location of employment.
- Hosting Departments providing financial support or salary to visiting scholars must ensure that the same meets Tufts annual estimate of expenses for J-1 scholars.
- A J-1 scholar's appointment must meet a minimum of 15 hours per week.
Step 2 – Add the Scholar to the ISD Database
The host Department must create a visitor's record in the International Scholar Dossier (ISD). Failure to provide all of the required information will delay the issuing of the immigration document. Read the ISD information below.
Step 3 – Invite the Scholar to use ISD
After creating the record in ISD, the Department must invite the new scholar to complete their biographical information. Follow the instructions on the User Guide.
Step 4 – Complete the Department Request Form (DRF) and the English Language Proficiency Verification Form
- The English Language Proficiency Verification Form is to be completed by the hosting faculty or Department Chair.
- The Department Request Form is to be completed by the Department Administrator/Coordinator.
Step 5 – Submit the Department Request Form (DRF) & the English Language Proficiency Verification Form
A completed and signed DRF & English Verification Form is required by the I-Center prior to processing a visa request.
Please note that every Department is responsible for updating the I-Center with information regarding extensions, early departure, changes in funding and visa sponsorship for each of their scholars.
Every J-1 scholar beginning a new appointment at Tufts will receive an initial form DS-2019. Returning scholars will need to apply for a new visa every time they enter the U.S. for this purpose. The Department must follow the steps stated on the section above and submit a new Department Request Form to the I-Center.
Finding the ISD Record
Departments inviting a returning scholar must verify if the scholar had a previous ISD record. To verify this information, please log into ISD and search the returning scholar's record by entering the scholar's first name and last name exactly as it appears on their passport. Please be aware that some scholars may have multiple last names. Misspelling the scholar's name may cause the department to miss the record in ISD.
Department Administrators are not allowed to access ISD records for scholars previously invited by other Tufts Departments. Please contact the International Center if you are aware that the scholar has previously worked at Tufts but the record is not showing up in ISD.
Updating the ISD Record
When inviting a returning scholar, we advise Departments not to create a new ISD record. Departments must update the following ISD record information as instructed in the ISD User Guide.
- Appointment Information
- Site of Activity
- Funding Information
If the scholar does not have an ISD record, please create one for the new appointment.
Departments wishing to extend appointments for current J-1 scholars must complete and submit a new Department Request Form to their International Scholar Advisor. Scholars must provide proof of funding for the additional period of stay in the U.S. The responsible advisor will guide the Department contact on how to provide the required extension information. Extension requests must be submitted at least one month in advance of the scholar's current appointment end date. J-1 visa regulations do not allow extension after the scholar's end date.
Please note that every Department is responsible for updating the I-Center with information regarding extensions, early departure, changes in funding and visa sponsorship.
The International Scholar Dossier (ISD), formerly Escholar, is the immigration web-based system used by the I-Center to gather J-1 visa requests from departments across Tufts University. We have prepared an user guide to support first time ISD users. Please review all of the instructions prior to contacting the I-Center staff with questions.
If you need access to log into ISD, please contact your Department's advisor. Upon receiving access to ISD, the system will generate a temporary password sent to you via email. The message will contain your username and login link. After your first login, you will be able to personalize your password by clicking on My Accounts.
H-1B Temporary Worker
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Other Visa Options
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 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.
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.
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.
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.