Visiting Scholar Request

This is what the administrative process looks like if you decide to sponsor an international scholar at SILS. It is the process in its entirety, and you won’t necessarily be involved in every step. Note that unless you have pre-selected a scholar yourself, scholars are required to secure a faculty sponsor on their own. You may receive e-mails from individuals hoping to work with you. Should you accept one of these requests, you will follow the steps listed below. Any questions can be directed to the SILS HR Consultant: (

  1. The process MUST begin 4+ months before the scholar’s intended arrival. 
  2. In conjunction with the department, consider the feasibility of the international scholar invitation in regard to: 
    1. Space (Will they have somewhere to sit and work?)
    2. The time you are able to devote to the scholar once they arrive (The J-1 visa program is administered by the U.S. Dept. of State and is expected to be both an educational and cultural experience for the scholar.)
    3. Hosting a scholar involves drafting a specific invitation letter; regularly meeting with the scholar once he/she arrives on campus; orientating him/her to UNC, SILS, and (sometimes) the surrounding area; engaging with him/her when it comes to research, publications, etc.; and if needed, supporting the scholar throughout the visa process
  3. Complete the Faculty Interest Form and your Letter of Invitation for the scholar. Submit all aforementioned forms to SILS HR ( These forms must be submitted NO LATER than 4 months before the candidate’s arrival. The invitation letter must follow the template, as UNC's International Office does not accept any other format.
    1. Your letter of invitation will likely be sent directly to the scholar. Also keep and provide a copy for SILS. We will need it for visa processing. 
  4. Once approved, SILS HR will send further instructions so that we may formally invite the scholar to SILS. The scholar will be asked to complete:
    1. DS-2019 Request form (visa paperwork)
    2. Original documents certifying financial support (translated in English, showing the name of the person receiving the funding, the amount of funding in US dollars, and the source of funding) 
    3. Translation Certification 
    4. Most recent CV
    5. Scanned copy of passports and passports for any dependents 
  5. Scholar sends (mails) completed forms to SILS HR. 
  6. SILS HR completes International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) paperwork and requests DS-2019 from ISSS Office. 
  7. SILS HR picks up DS-2019 when it’s ready and mails it to the scholar so they can obtain their visa. 
  8. The scholar makes an appointment with US Consulate in their region of residence. NOTE: Wait times for visa appointment scheduling and visa processing varies considerably from country to county. Just because your scholar has been mailed their DS-2019 does not guarantee that they will be granted a visa. 
  9. Scholar arrives within 30 days of appointment/visa start date. Scholar checks in with ISSS Office.

    View flow chart of the process.

Important Information for International Visiting Scholars

Thank you for your interest in becoming a Visiting Scholar in the School of Information and Library Science at UNC Chapel Hill. In order to begin this process, you will need to find a member of the SILS faculty to sponsor your visit. It is important to find a sponsor whose research interests are compatible with your own. As an international visiting scholar, you will need to obtain a temporary visa.

AFTER you have secured a faculty sponsor and they have agreed to sponsor your visit, please have your faculty sponsor e-mail the Senior HR Consultant to start the visa application process.  The email must come from the faculty sponsor.  


General Conditions of Visiting SILS

Scholars are welcome to visit SILS for a semester or for a full year. UNC's academic calendar runs from mid-August through mid-May. In order to make full use of your time in Chapel Hill, we recommend arriving no later than August 1st or December 31st. 

SILS may be able to provide the scholar with workspace, a UNC ID and e-mail account, library and technology privileges, and the opportunity to audit courses. Scholars are also encouraged to give formal lectures, attend meetings, and participate in social functions.

A program fee of $5,000 per year is required for all participants.  This is in addition to any funding requirements set by UNC’s Office of International Student and Scholar Services.  SILS will not accept the program fee prior to the DS-2019 being issued.  After a Scholar has been accepted, the fee must be paid in U.S. dollars no later than one month before your official start date. SILS staff will provide further instructions after the DS-2019 is issued.  As a majority of the effort to schedule a Scholar happens prior to arrival, refunds of the program fee are not available.

Please note that this is a program fee, not tuition. Indeed, the word tuition cannot be used in a person’s application or in a letter from a sponsor. Tuition is what enrolled students pay to be students and receive academic credit. A Visiting International Scholar is not an enrolled student and receives no academic credit.

SILS does not have the funds to support travel to and from Chapel Hill, or to support scholars’ living expenses. Visitors receive no compensation and they are not eligible for employee benefits or financial aid. Every scholar must demonstrate sufficient financial support during their time in the U.S. This is a requirement for your visa. Scholars are also responsible for obtaining their own housing, but the Office of International Student and Scholar Services can provide resources.



Once a faculty sponsor has been secured, SILS will send the scholar the necessary paperwork needed for obtaining a J-1 visa. UNC’s Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS) will help facilitate the visa process. Please read through OISSS’s website for the most up-to-date information on the J-1 visa. Pay close attention to the minimum required financial support amount and the medical insurance requirement.