J-1: Frequently Asked Questions


If you have a question not listed here and you are currently a Purdue faculty or staff, please email iss@purdue.edu

Otherwise, if you are not currently Purdue faculty or staff, please contact the ISS liaison in the Purdue department you will visit or have interest in.  A list of ISS liaisons can be found at this website.

How do we obtain permission to issue an invitation letter?

The issuance of invitation letters to international visitors who are formally invited to Purdue University is controlled by University policy, which requires a screening against certain US government lists and review of topics related to the activities and assigned location of the foreign visitor while at Purdue. Because this process is specific to certain invited international visitors, the 'invitation letter' screening process does affect enrolled students or employees of Purdue. Typically, these visitors come as guests or visiting scholars (as described in Policy C-12). This policy also applies to invitation letter for international researchers or professors applying for (or approved for) Fulbright funding.

The process is managed by the Export Control team of the Office for Research and Partnerships. However, documents and information supporting this process are gathered by the ISS liaisons in each department. To see the ISS liaison for each department or school, click here.

How do we complete an I-983 Training Plan for a student with STEM Optional Practical Training?

Go to this website for the answer:


Scroll down and click on "Purdue Specific I-983 Information"

Who can be a Visiting Scholar?

The Visiting Scholar appointment is a non-paid, courtesy Purdue position meant to assist a non-US citizen in completing an objective required by their program.  They do not receive a salary from Purdue but may be given a living stipend.

The following are permitted to be Visiting Scholars: 

  • J-1 scholars holding a college degree (those lacking a college degree are eligible for a Visiting Undergraduate Student program if they are currently enrolled in a degree program overseas)
  • After completing their US degree or exchange student program, J-1 students on Academic Training if receiving funding from their home government during the appointment
  • Before completing their US degree or program, F-1 or J-1 students if:
    • they are not Purdue students AND
    • they have a letter from their US institution's international office permitting their stay at Purdue AND
    • One or both of these are true during their stay at Purdue:
      • they are receiving credit at their US institution AND/OR
      • they are paid by their US institution or their home government

Please note that as Visiting Scholars, they would receive an invitation letter, so the process to obtain permission to issue such a letter must be followed. In addition, the invitation letter must require their agreement to follow Purdue's policy regarding intellectual property as required by the Provost's office.

Who cannot be a Visiting Scholar?

Below is not an exhaustive list but represent typical cases of those requesting Visiting Scholar appointments that are not permitted to do so.

  • F-1 Students on OPT
  • J-2 Dependents (even with an EAD employment card)
  • F-2 Dependents
  • H-4 Dependents
  • B-1/B-2 Business Visitors/Tourists
  • WB/WT Waiver of Visitor Visa (also known as ESTA)

F-1 Students on OPT

Please note that F-1 students who have graduated and obtained Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment cards are not permitted Visiting Scholar appointments.

  • OPT regulations permit F-1 students to maintain their OPT status with a volunteer position, but Purdue's human resources department states that Visiting Scholar appointments do not qualify as a volunteer position.
  • OPT students are permitted a maximum of 90 days of unemployment from the start date of the employment card. If a Purdue department wishes to help a student avoid too many days of unemployment, they must offer the student a paid position.

J-2 Dependents

  • Before 2010, J-2's were permitted to be Visiting Scholars if they held an employment card.
  • US Department of State's Exchange Visitor Program officers clarified that J-2's do not have a program objective. Thus they cannot have courtesy positions such as Visiting Scholar positions.

Can a Purdue department invite an international visitor to come as a tourist (B-2 or WT status) or business visitor (B-1 or WB status)?

First, whether a visitor comes to Purdue as a tourist to conduct independent research or in another status permitting a Purdue appointment, the visit must comply with US export control regulations.  For tourists and business visitors, please follow these Office for Research & Partnership: Export Control instructions to insure compliance.

For such visitors, the following questions must be asked about their activities here:

  • Will they be given an official appointment at Purdue?
  • Will they be given keys to department buildings and/or labs?
  • Will they be given research space at Purdue?
  • Will they be given electronic access at Purdue (that is, email, library, and other faculty/staff privileges)?
  • If Purdue will pay anything to the visitor, will the compensation be for a visit to Purdue of more than 9 days?  (See this Human Resource website and this site for more information on this issue.)

If the answers to the above questions are all "no," then it would be appropriate for a department to invite such a visitor to campus as a tourist or business visitor with the understanding that the visitor will not be eligible for a Purdue ID card nor Career Account. 

If any of these questions are "yes," then please work with the ISS liaison in your department to help the visitor obtain the appropriate status and export compliance.

Can visitors to Purdue in tourist or business visitor status in the US be given appointments at Purdue?

Our office does not advise departments to offer appointments to tourists or business visitors for liability reasons.  There are no legal controls for these visitors to require health insurance for them.  If an accident were to occur on the work site and this visitor had no health insurance or way to pay the medical evacuation to their home country, this situation would be a big liability for the department and the university.  

In addition, upon arriving in the US, this visitor will need to show the port-of-entry officer some proof of a legitimate reason to enter the US.  Given the documents presented it will be up to the officer to admit the visitor into the country and in what status he will be admitted.  If the officer believes that the visitor has different intentions than what is presented to him, the visitor may be denied entry and sent home.

What if a visitor arrives at Purdue already in tourist or business visitor status: what are they allowed to do?

They are allowed to visit the campus as any other campus visitor to Purdue would be allowed to do.  They may discuss contracts and research plans with the department, attend conferences, conduct independent research and be given tours of the department and its facilities.  Basically, whatever a visiting alumni or student parent would be allowed to do, they may also do.  Any privileges reserved for Purdue faculty and staff would not be available to them.

Can they have a Purdue ID card if the US consulate tells the visitor that it is okay to do research in the US on tourist or business visitor status?

The US consulate is correct that a B visitor is permitted to conduct "independent research" in the US.  But if a visitor was given a Purdue ID card and Purdue career account, the visitor becomes a Purdue designee and the research done at Purdue is no longer independent.

Therefore, in order to make clear that the visitor's research is independent of Purdue, the visitor must not have a Purdue ID card or Purdue career account. 

What if the department wants to pay the tourist/visitor for his travel and/or living expenses or to pay an honorarium to the visitor?

As explained earlier, refer to this Human Resource website and this site  

The Human Resource office makes such compensation decisions, bringing together immigration and labor laws in such cases.

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