Inviting an International Visitor to your Department
Hosting visiting international scholars and professionals to campus is an important part of internationalizing the campus. They bring valuable perspectives from abroad and provide opportunities for our students and faculty. A few examples of the benefits include COIL collaboration, content-rich guest lectures, cooperative international research, strengthening international relationships abroad, and bringing more international awareness to the Fredonia community.
Many international visitors require an invitation letter, especially if they are seeking financial support or a visitor visa. Invitation letters should be requested from the Office of International Education and should be signed by the University President or her designee. In addition to contacting the OIE, make sure Department Chairs, Deans, and the Provost are informed before committing to an invitation.
Here is a breakdown of how the invitation process works:
Initial Contact and Matching
Sometimes guests are introduced to a Fredonia faculty member, or sometimes they make contact on their own. Either way, the visitor will need a colleague at Fredonia who is willing to be their faculty host for the duration of the visit. The department chair and dean should be consulted early on to make sure they are supportive of continuing the discussions. Even if the visitor has full financial support, other things might be considered including workload of the faculty host and available office space to support the visitor during their stay. During discussions with the prospective visitor, the faculty host should first make sure that the visitor's background and interests are related to their own. Preliminary information to collect at this time includes whether the visitor already has financial support during their stay, what specific activities he/she hopes to do while at Fredonia, and how long he/she plans to stay. It's a good idea to collect a CV, ask for a statement of purpose, and have a few discussions with the prospective visitor before committing as a faculty host. If there is a good match between the host facuty member and the visitor, the Director of the Office of International Education should be contacted for next steps.
Initial Invitation Letter (Optional)
If the initial discussions and matching goes well, sometimes a visitor needs an initial letter verifying that Fredonia is willing to host them for a specific time period. Letters like this are often used to secure funding or submit a proposal to their home institution.
Email the Director of the Office of International Education (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a basic template.
Once funding is secured,the faculty host is ready to work with the Office of International Education. The department/host faculty and Office of International Education will take on different roles:
|Department and Host Faculty||Office of International Education|
Visitor Invitation Letter and Visa Documents
The invitation letter and visa support documents might differ depending on many things. The Office of International Education will work with the prospective visiting scholar and Fredonia faculty host to collect information and to provide the most appropriate support documents.
Many visiting scholars plan on arriving on a J-1 visa. If Fredonia will be sponsoring a J-1 research scholar visa, specific information and documents will be required. If this is determined to be the most appropriate visa type, there are additional regulations that apply to the visitor's activity on campus. The Office of International Education oversees the J-1 exchange program and will ensure compliance with the regulations while keeping the host faculty member informed throughout the process. All visitor invitation letters must be signed by the University President or the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. The duration of a visiting scholar's program must be a minimum of three weeks. Contact the Director of the Office of International Education (email@example.com) for additional information.
Once the support documents are sent to the visitor, the Office of International Education will inform the faculty host and will keep in touch to make sure that the visa process goes smoothly. The faculty host should also keep in touch related to scholarly activities, airport transportation options, and assistance with locating appropriate housing. If the visitor experiences any delay in their arrival, the Office of International Education should be notified to ensure that the entry date on the visa support documents remains valid.
Before arrival, the department should share the news of the visitor with the campus by submitting a Campus News story and sharing the dates and purpose of the visit at campus meetings.
Upon arrival, the visitor should report to the Office of International Education to have copies of their passport and other arrival documentation added to their file.
During the visit, it's important that the visitor engage only in activities that were previously approved. The faculty host will be the visitor's main point of contact, but if there are any questions about or changes to the activities of the visitor, consult the Director of the Office of International Education. The department or faculty host should help the visitor arrange some outreach activities to the campus community to assist the visitor in facilitating cultural exchange. If the visitor will be traveling outside of the United States and then re-entering during the visit, contact the Director of the Office of International Education to make sure that the visitor has the appropriate travel signatures needed to re-enter the United States.
After the visit, the faculty host should report a summary of the visit to the Director of the Office of International Education. Don't forget to share the results of the visit by submitting a Campus News story.