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 occaisional 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. 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. In addition, the department chair and dean should be consulted 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 and to 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.
If the initial discussions and matching goes well, then 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 directly with the prospective visiting scholar to collect information and to provide the most appropriate support documents. Many visiting scholars plan on arriving on a J-1 visa. 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.
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 and to answer pre-arrival questions related to the visa process. 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. Upon arrival, the visitor should make an appointment to see the Director of the Office of International Education.
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 program, the faculty host should report a summary of the visit to the Director of the Office of International Education.