Visiting International Scholar Program

NMU's strategic plan, Investing in Innovation, identifies domestic and global outreach and engagement as strategic focus areas. NMU views the presence of international visiting scholars as important and in alignment with the goals of its strategic plan. Hosting international scholars whose goals are consistent with the University's contributes to the richness of the experience for the visiting scholar as well as providing valuable contributions to the intellectual life of faculty, staff and students. 

What is a Visiting Scholar at NMU?

Visiting Scholars may be professors, researchers, scientists, or other academic personnel who are temporarily in residence at NMU who have defined access to identified University facilities with prior approval by the respective department head and college dean. A visiting scholar is typically in residence at NMU for a minimum of two weeks up to a maximum of one year.  International scholars usually come to NMU in a number of ways:

International scholars generally come to NMU through:

  1. collaborative research projects with an NMU faculty member, or as a research or teaching associate for an academic department. 
  2. prior knowledge of individual faculty members and/or the reputation of the Department of the University
  3. referral from national or international funding agencies, foundations, Fulbright commissions, IREX, foreign universities, foreign embassies or other reputable national and international organizations. 
  4. NMU partner institutions or other international initiatives. 

Application Guidelines

Northern Michigan University accepts only visiting scholars with a completed masters, doctoral degree, or other equivalent degree. Exceptions may be made for scholars who have special attainments, skills, or experiences that uniquely qualify them for the proposed scholarship. All exceptions require approval by the respective departmental faculty, Department Head, Dean and the Provost. 

All visiting scholar applicants need to complete the Application for Visiting International Scholar form.  A completed application should be submitted to the department head in which the scholar will reside during the designated time of study on NMU's campus four months prior to the intended date of arrival.

Letter of Invitation

When the completed application materials have been received, reviewed, approved and a faculty mentor has been identified, a letter of invitation will be sent to the visiting scholar from the department head. This process may take 3-4 weeks or longer. In the event multiple applications are submitted for a limited number of appointments, selections will be made based on an applicant’s scholarly record, appropriate match with a faculty mentor, and alignment with the University’s needs. Visiting scholar appointments will be granted on the basis of departmental approval (faculty and Department Head support) and faculty mentor availability.

Length of Stay

Visiting scholars may be in residence at the University for up to one year however, some exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis. Most NMU faculty are not available to work with and mentor visiting scholars during the summer months; thus it is important that a clear timeline and understanding of expected scholarship be established regarding the proposed length of stay.

  • Short Term Scholar - An individual who is engaged in a research project or teaching activities not to exceed a 6 month period. The 24 month participating bar does not apply
  • Research Scholar - An individual who is primarily participating in a research project, and may also be involved in teaching. Not to exceed 5 years. The 24 month participation bar does apply. 
  • Professor - An individual whose primary purpose is teaching, may also conduct research. Not to exceed 5 years. The 24 month participation bar does apply. 

English Language Proficiency

Although there is no minimum English language requirement, international visiting scholars must have sufficient understanding of English to be successful in the exchange project or program and for day-to-day living in the U.S. English language proficiency may be verified by interview, academic documentation or English language test score.

The scholar may attend the NMU English Language Institute Program upon payment of tuition and other fees.


In addition to submitting an application, a visiting international scholar needs to:

  • Obtain leave from their home institution
  • Acquire a department faculty mentor from NMU who agrees to provide guidance on a designated project (a department head may assist the international scholar in this process).
  • Be fully funded with financial resources outside Northern Michigan University (currently a minimum of $1,200/month) and assume financial responsibility for visa processing fees. Note: Proof of financial resources is required for the scholar to obtain the DS2019 which is used to apply for a J1 visa. If a background check is required, the visiting scholar assumes responsibility for those related costs. Financial support can come from home country sources, grants, or personal funds.
  • Provide health insurance individually, and for any accompanying family members for the duration of the agreed upon length of the visit.
  • The scholar may also be asked to contribute their expertise in translating materials and furthering NMU’s internationalization efforts.
  • Establish housing which may or may not be on NMU’s campus. Visitors will be provided with access to Northern Michigan University housing information. Visiting scholars are responsible for securing housing arrangements for themselves and any accompanying family members. This includes education placement needs for school age family members. The faculty mentor may be available to assist the scholar in finding housing.


A visiting scholar at Northern Michigan University will be assigned the service title of Visiting Scholar without pay. It is important to note that a visiting scholar is not paid and does not hold an official academic appointment in a specific Department or at the University in general.

A visiting scholar:

  • Is assigned office space (which may be shared) with access to a computer and printer (if available).
  • Is given free reading and borrowing privileges in the University library.
  • May purchase photocopying services at the University library.
  • May attend the NMU English Language Institute Program (upon payment of tuition).
  • May attend courses on a non-credit basis with instructor approval.
  • Purchase a Parking Permit at cost (if applicable)
  • May use University recreational facilities upon payment of fees.
  • NOTE: Budget and staffing limitations may prohibit access to the following services: copying on department equipment, long distance telephone calls and support staff or graduate student assistance.

Summary Steps for International Scholar Application

1. Identify and contact faculty mentor within host department  

2. Gather and submit application material to academic department head, which includes:

  • A curriculum visa (CV) (in English)
  • A recommendation letter from an administrator at the scholar's home institution that outlines current position, current teaching/research/administrative responsbilities, highest degree achieved and funding. home institution that outlines current position, current teaching/research/administrative responsibilities, highest degree achieved and funding. 
  • A description of the scope or purpose of visit
  • A recommended certification of finances for the scholar and all dependents. 

3. The host department head and college Dean reviews the application with the faculty mentor and the department faculty. A SKYPE, or other online media, interview with the applicant may be required. The final decision rests with the department head; however, departmental faculty, the college Dean and the Provost must support the request. 

4. If approved, a formal letter of invitation is sent by email to the applicant from the department head. The original letter of invitation along with a copy of the application and all supporting documents must be sent to the International Education Services Office for processing of DS-2019. 

5. Upon receipt of the letter of invitation the applicant contacts NMU’s International Education Services Office to obtain the necessary documentation for a visa application (The J-1 exchange visitor non-immigrant visa category is the status most commonly used by international visiting scholars.  For more information: 

6. Visa application submitted to US authorities.

7. Once a visa is obtained, the applicant makes travel arrangements and arranges housing. The faculty mentor can be contacted for assistance with identifying a realtor who can assist with housing. 

Department Responsibilities Prior to the Visiting Scholar's Arrival on Campus

1. Provide a campus wide annoucement of the visiting scholars' arrival (e.g. Campus Connect). Include information about the scholar's focus and purpose (reasearch) for visiting our campus. 

2. Assure transportation from the airport is made upon the Visiting Scholar's arrival. 

Exit Interview

An exit interview with the Department head and hosting department should occur prior to the Visiting Scholars conclusion of their visit. 

Examples of Faculty Mentor Expectations

  • Food/Restraunt Options
  • Arrangements from airport
  • Campus Tour
  • Processing paperwork i.e.: access, ID card, partking etc.
  • Update Department Head/Dean on status/progress of program
  • Liaison for multi-disciplinary collaborative research
  • Assistance setting up the household i.e. showing the visiting scholar where grocery stores are etc.

Certification of Finances Requirement

**Amounts listed subject to change LIVING EXPENSES (per month) LIVING EXPENSES (per year)










Spouse (wife/husband) $5,000 per year  
Each child under 21 $3,000 per year $3,000 x # of children

The J Exchange Visitor program was established to implement the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (Fulbright-Hayes Act) of 1961. This program was created "to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges." Exchange Visitors enter the US holding J-1 visas in designated categories. J-1 Exchange Visitors are expected to return to their home countries upon completion of their program at Northern Michigan University (NMU). The International Education Services Office prepares the Form DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for the Exchange Visitor. This form is used to both apply for a J-1 Visa from the local US Embassy or Consulate and to enter the US to begin a program here at NMU.

Current and future J-1 scholars will find resources here relating to establishing and maintaining J-1 visa status at NMU, plus information on visas for family members, community programs, and health care.

12/24 Participation Bar
Insurance Requirement
Exchange Visitor Handbook
Pre-Arrival Information
Maintaining Status
Travel and Visas
Family and Dependents
Drivers License
Social Security Information
Wilberforce Pamphlet

Immigration rules and regulations are complex and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to keep current and changes by going to the International Programs Office website or by contact an immigration advisor in International Programs at 2001 Cohodas 203 or 906-227-2510.

Revised April 2018 and Approved President Erickson April 16, 2018