Visa Services
Duke University School of Medicine School of Nursing Health System International House
Visa Class Options and Descriptions

Rights and Responsibilities of:

Some visa classifications allow more than one kind of activity. Therefore, this text is arranged by activities rather than by visa classification.

GENERAL INFORMATION
All persons who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents ("green card holders", "resident aliens") must have permission from the Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS) to perform certain activities and remain in the U.S. Even those who do not have to obtain a visa stamp from a U.S. consulate abroad prior to entry into the U.S. MUST obtain this permission, which is granted at the port of entry into the U.S. or from an Immigration and Naturalization Office inside the U.S. This permission comes in the form of various visa classifications. Below are some of the most commonly used visa classes for non-citizens and non-immigrants to work or study at Duke. Please note that the terms "Designated School Official" and "Responsible Officer" (or "Alternate Responsible Officer") DO NOT connote the faculty advisor or department chair. These individuals are found in Visa Services and are authorized by the U.S. government to represent Duke University in visa-related matters. The following information is very general. If you plan to invite a foreign national who will use one of the following visa classes or any other visa classes, please contact Visa Services at 681-VISA (681-8472) to insure they will have the proper visa documents to pursue their desired activities at Duke.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Taxation of payments made to foreign nationals often differs significantly from taxation of payments made to U.S. citizens. For information about taxation of international students and scholars who will be on payroll or who will receive payments from Duke, contact the International Payroll Tax Coordinator, Debbie Endsley, in the Payroll Office at 684-2642.

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STUDENTS
F-1 Student Visa Class:

This visa is available only to full-time enrolled students working toward a degree or certificate or specified course of study at a U.S. institution. This visa is valid for as long as the student remains in school and carries a full course of study.

Employment on the student's campus may be authorized for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and 40 hours during vacation. Practical training employment in the field of study may be authorized before or after completion of the degree or certificate. F-1 students are eligible for 12 months of practical training. Before the student can engage in Optional Practical Training (OPT), the student must obtain a recommendation from his/her Designated School Official and apply for an I-688B, Employment Authorization Card, from the INS. Duke students should contact the appropriate Visa Services advisor to apply. The student may be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) only if the training is a requirement for graduation or it is a course of study for which academic credit is given. The student's Designated School Official must provide written authorization that the Curricular Practical Training has been approved. Reimbursement, honoraria, or per diem payments for guest lectures, etc. may be allowed only if these activities occur on the student's campus and are part of the student's authorized 20 hour/week on-campus employment OR if the student has prior written approval for curricular practical training from the student's Designated School Official OR if the student has an I-688B, work authorization card, which is issued by the INS.

Dependents of F-1s may be admitted as F-2s. They are not permitted to work; no exceptions.

J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa Class, Student Category:

This visa class is available to students enrolled in a full course of study who are supported substantially by scholarships, grants and sources other than personal or family funds at a U.S. institution. The J-1 student visa may be valid for the time required to complete a degree program or up to 24 months for non-degree programs. The visa may be extended upon completion of the course of study for the student to engage in academic training employment related to the field of study. Employment on the student's campus may be authorized for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and 40 hours during vacation. Certain other types of employment (e.g. economic necessity employment, non-paid academic training) may be approved by the Responsible Officer of the J-1 program. Duke students should contact the appropriate Visa Services advisor.

Paid academic training, either before or after completion of studies, must be authorized by the Responsible Officer of the program before the student can engage in employment. An extended visa document, DS-2019, may be necessary as well. The maximum time for academic training is 18 months total or the student's period of full course of study in the U.S., whichever is less. Postdoctoral students may be allowed up to 36 months for bona-fide post-doctoral research. Duke students should contact the appropriate Visa Services advisor to apply. Reimbursements, honoraria, or per diem payments received as a guest lecturer, etc., may be allowed if these activities occur on the student's campus and are part of the student's authorized part-time on-campus employment OR if the student has prior written approval for academic training from the Responsible Officer of the student's exchange visitor program. Dependents of J-1s may be admitted in J-2 status and may apply to the INS for permission to work. This is general work authorization for any job for which the alien qualifies.

See "IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR VISA" below.

[Return to top] [J-1 Short Term Scholar Info] [J-1 Professor/Researcher/Specialist Info]

SHORT-TERM SCHOLARS, GUEST LECTURERS
B-1 or W-B Visitor for Business Visa Class:

These visa classes allow short-term visitors to come to the U.S. to conduct business, present a lecture, and attend conferences, seminars and other business meetings. These visa classes DO NOT allow employment. They DO, however, allow honoraria and per diem payments to be made, provided that the visitor's stay at the university is not longer than 9 days and the visitor has not accepted reimbursements from more than five other institutions in the U.S. during the preceding 6-month period. Reimbursements to persons in these visa classifications may be subject to substantial tax withholding and you may wish to contact the Payroll Office for further information on taxation. To make certain an individual qualifies for the B-1 honorarium, please consult with Visa Services.

NOTE: Canadian citizens who enter the U.S. without any documentation are considered to be admitted in joint B-1 (Visitor for Business)/B-2 (Visitor for Tourism) visa classification.

J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa Class, Short-Term Scholar Category:

This visa program was created to promote academic, cultural, and scientific exchange between the visitor and the host country. The short-term scholar category is used to bring someone to the U.S. to observe, lecture, consult, or participate in conferences or meetings. This visa DOES ALLOW reimbursements, honoraria, or per diem payments received as a guest lecturer, etc. The maximum time one can be in the U.S. in this visa category is 6 months. No extension of stay beyond the 6-month period is allowed.

Dependents of J-1s may be admitted in J-2 status and may apply to the INS for permission to work. This is general work authorization for any job for which the alien qualifies.

See "IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR VISA" below.

NAFTA's TN Visa Class:

The TN visa permits only the activities normally associated with the title or appointment as stated in the appointment letter. It is available only to Canadian or Mexican citizens, (not to legal residents of these countries). Only professions listed in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) qualify. Examples of such professions are: faculty, research associates and certain allied health professions.

NOTE: There are special requirements for the issuance of a TN for a Mexican citizen. Reimbursements, honoraria, or per diem payments for guest lectures, etc. may be allowed on this visa if stated in the original appointment letter used to obtain the visa.

Dependents of TNs may be admitted in TD status. They are not permitted to work, no exceptions.

[Return to top] [More TN info]

PROFESSORS, RESEARCHERS, SPECIALISTS, TECHNICIANS
J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa Class, Professor/Researcher Category:

This visa program was created to promote academic, cultural and scientific exchange between the visitor and the host country. It should be used to bring someone to the U.S. on a temporary basis to perform a specific research or teaching activity. This visa should not be used as a means of general employment. The regulations require that the appointment be temporary and the individual not be a candidate for a tenure track position. The initial appointment cannot exceed 3 years. An additional 6-month extension may be granted by the Responsible or Alternate Responsible Officer in Visa Services. In exceptional circumstances, additional extensions may be approved by the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP). Generally, employment not connected with the appointment is not permitted. Reimbursements, honoraria, or per diem payments received as a guest lecturer or collaborative researcher, etc. may be undertaken only with prior written approval from the Responsible Officer of the scholar's exchange program. Generally, persons on other institutions' J exchange visitor programs must transfer to Duke's exchange visitor program before beginning employment at Duke.

Note: Physicians may not perform clinical activities in this category of the J visa.

Dependents of J-1s may be admitted in J-2 status and may apply to the INS for permission to work. This is general work authorization for any job for which the alien qualifies.

See "IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR VISA" below.

J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa Class, Specialist Category:

This visa program was created to promote academic, cultural and scientific exchange between the visitor and the host country. It should be used to bring a foreign national who is an expert in a field of specialized knowledge to observe, consult or demonstrate special skills, except for those who may fall into the professor/researcher category mentioned above. This visa should not be used as a means of general employment. The regulations require that the individual not fill a permanent or long-term position. The specialist may receive payment and may remain in the U.S. for a maximum of one year.

Dependents of J-1s may be admitted in J-2 status and may apply to the INS for permission to work. This is general work authorization for any job for which the alien qualifies.

See "IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR VISA" below.

H-1B Temporary Worker Visa Class:

This visa permits only the activities normally associated with the title or appointment. This visa is available to any professional with at least a Bachelor's degree who will engage in the practice of the profession for which s/he was trained and which requires at least a Bachelor's degree. This visa is issued in 3-year increments and is valid for a maximum stay of six years. Unlike the F-1 and J-1 classes where the institution controls the issuance of visa documents, the H-1B requires an approved Labor Condition Application from the Department of Labor (DOL), (2-3 weeks processing time), an approved visa petition from the INS (3-4 months processing time), and the payment of a processing fee to the INS.

NOTE: Clinical activities as a physician are permitted ONLY by those with faculty appointments in which clinical activities are incidental to their teaching and research activities. Faculty who will have any patient care responsibilities must obtain an appropriate North Carolina license for the appointment from the North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners prior to filing the petition.

Dependents of H-1Bs may be admitted in H-4 status. They are not permitted to work, no exceptions.

O-1 Alien of Extraordinary Ability Visa Class:

This visa class is for those who are nationally and/or internationally acclaimed in their fields. It is used for appointments as faculty, high-level researcher and in some cases, as clinical fellow. It requires Duke to demonstrate through extensive documentation that the individual is at the top of his/her field and to obtain an approved visa petition from the INS. The visa is granted initially for the term of the appointment or up to three years. There is no maximum time limit for this visa class, however, extensions only are granted in one-year increments or less. Physicians who will have any patient care responsibilities must obtain an appropriate North Carolina license for the appointment from the North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners prior to filing the petition.

Dependents of O-1s may be admitted in O-3 status. They are not permitted to work, no exceptions.

NAFTA's TN Visa Class:

The TN visa permits only the activities normally associated with the title or appointment. It is available only to Canadian and Mexican citizens (not to legal residents of these countries), only in the professions listed in the North American Free Trade Agreement. Examples of such professions are: faculty, research associates and certain allied health professions. NOTE: There are special requirements for the issuance of a TN to a Mexican citizen. The TN visa is issued one year at a time, and though there is not a limit on how long one can work in the U.S. under the TN visa, the alien's intent must be temporary. Like the H-1B visa class, the institution does not control the issuance of visa documents, and the TN requires a petition to the INS and payment of a processing fee to same. However, unlike the H-1B, the TN for Canadian citizens may be acquired at the port of entry to the U.S. if the proper documentation is presented to the Immigration Officer.

NOTE: Clinical activities as a physician are permitted ONLY by those with faculty appointments and only when they are incidental to their teaching and research activities. Faculty who will have any patient care responsibilities must obtain an appropriate license for the appointment from the North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners prior to applying for the visa.

Dependents of TNs may be admitted in TD status. They are not permitted to work, no exceptions.

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NONCLINICAL HOUSE STAFF
Nonclinical House Staff may qualify for and obtain one of the visa types outlined in the "PROFESSORS, RESEARCHERS, SPECIALISTS, TECHNICIANS" section above. No licensure or special exam is required. The alien must be engaged predominantly in observation, consultation, teaching, or research. The alien must not be given the final responsibility for the diagnosis or treatment of patients and any incidental patient contact must be under the direct supervision of a physician licensed to practice medicine in N.C. Any experience gained by the alien may not be credited towards clinical requirements for medical specialty board certification. Before the alien can go on payroll or be listed as House Staff, Visa Services must have copies of the medical education credentials per the enclosed "Required Education and Training Credentials for Admission to the House Staff." Look up the requirements by the country where the alien's medical education was received. All documents not in English must be accompanied by certified translations.

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CLINICAL HOUSE STAFF
F-1 Student Visa Class Authorized for Practical Training:

This visa is available only to full-time enrolled students working toward a degree or certificate or specified course of study at a U.S. institution. Clinical house staff employment is allowed on this visa ONLY if the student has used this F-1 visa to obtain a medical degree from a U.S. medical school. Foreign medical graduates whose F-1 visas are for Ph.D. programs may not use their practical training for clinical house staff employment. Students must have obtained prior written approval for optional practical training from their Designated School Official and hold a valid I-688B work authorization card from the INS.

Dependents of F-1s may be admitted as F-2s. They are not permitted to work, no exceptions.

H-1B Temporary Worker Visa Class:

The alien must meet one of the following criteria to qualify for this visa class for clinical training:

Graduate of a U.S. Medical School

Graduate of an LCME accredited Canadian Medical School who has passed the FLEX exam, OR Parts I, II, & III of the NBMEE, OR Steps 1, 2, & 3 of the USMLE. Combinations of Parts, Steps, or Days do not qualify.

Graduate of a foreign medical school who has passed the FLEX exam, OR Parts I, II, & III of the NBMEE, OR Steps 1, 2, & 3 of the USMLE AND has a valid, unexpired ECFMG certificate. Combinations of Parts, Steps, or Days do not qualify.

A physician of national or international renown.
This visa permits only the activities normally associated with the title or appointment. The alien may work in the U.S. on this visa for a maximum stay of six years. Unlike the F-1 and J-1 classes, where the institution controls the issuance of visa documents, the H-1B requires an approved Labor Condition Application from the Department of Labor (DOL), (2-3 weeks processing time), an approved visa petition from the INS (3-4 months processing time), and the payment of a processing fee to the INS. Physicians who will have any patient care responsibilities must obtain an appropriate North Carolina license for the appointment from the North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners prior to filing the petition.

Dependent of H-1Bs may be admitted in H-4 status. They are not permitted to work, no exceptions.

J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa Class, Medical Trainee Category:

Canadian and foreign medical graduates may qualify to receive graduate medical training in the U.S. on a J-1 visa under the sponsorship of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). Please note that ECFMG controls the issuance of the visa document, DS-2019, and they reserve six weeks to issue the document. They also charge an administrative fee to prepare a DS-2019. The DS-2019 will be issued for one year only and extensions must be requested from and approved by ECFMG. Employment associated with the House Staff appointment may be permitted for up to a maximum of seven years. Program-related "moonlighting" is permitted only with written permission from ECFMG. Request the J-1 Clinical House Staff packet from Visa Services for additional documentation required for this visa class.

Dependents of J-1s may be admitted in J-2 status and may apply to the INS for permission to work. This is general work authorization for any job for which the alien qualifies.

See "IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR VISA" below.

J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa Class, Student Category Authorized for Academic Training:

This visa class is available to students enrolled in a full course of study at a U.S. institution who are supported substantially by scholarships, grants and sources other than personal or family funds. Clinical house staff employment is allowed on this visa ONLY if the student has used this visa to obtain a medical degree from a U.S. medical school. Foreign medical graduates whose J-1 visas are for Ph.D. programs may not use their practical training for clinical house staff employment. The students must have prior written approval for academic training from their exchange visitor program's Responsible or Alternate Responsible Officer.

Dependents of J-1s may be admitted in J-2 status and may apply to the INS for permission to work. This is general work authorization for any job for which the alien qualifies.

See "IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR VISA" below.

O-1 Alien of Extraordinary Ability Visa Class:

This visa class is for those who are nationally and/or internationally acclaimed in their field. It is used for an appointment as faculty, high-level researcher and in some cases, clinical fellow. It requires Duke to demonstrate through extensive documentation that the individual is at the top of his/her field and to obtain an approved visa petition from the INS. The visa is granted initially for the term of the appointment or up to three years. There is no maximum limit for this visa class; however, extensions are granted only in one-year increments or less. Physicians who will have any patient care responsibilities must obtain an appropriate North Carolina license for the appointment from the North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners prior to filing the petition.

Dependents of O-1s may be admitted in O-3 status. They are not permitted to work, no exceptions.

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REGISTERED NURSES
NAFTA's TN Visa Class:

The TN visa permits nurses with a valid appropriate state license to practice nursing in the U.S. It is available only to Canadian and Mexican citizens (not legal residents of these countries) in the professions listed in the North American Free Trade Agreement. These visas are issued one year at a time, and though there is not a limit on how long one can work in the U.S. under the TN visa, the alien's intent must be temporary. The TN for Canadian citizens may be acquired at the port of entry to the U.S. if the proper documentation is presented to the Immigration Officer. NOTE: There are special requirements for the issuance of a TN to a Mexican citizen.

Dependents of TNs may be admitted in TD status. They are not permitted to work, no exceptions.

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR VISA
This information applies to all categories of the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa.

Restrictions on Returning in Professor or Research Scholar Category

If the individual was in the U.S. during the last 12 months on a J visa sponsored by any organization (including those not connected with Duke), in any J category except short-term scholar (student, research scholar, medical trainee, etc.), Visa Services is prohibited from issuing a DS-2019 for this person to enter the U.S. in the J-1 professor or research scholar category. The exception to this regulation is for individuals who were in the U.S. for a period of less than 6 months or who were in the short-term scholar category. The Request for Temporary Visa form from Visa Services asks the incoming visitor to list his/her visa history so our office may determine appropriate options for the individual.

Home Residence Requirement

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is a special program of the Department of State for the purpose of facilitating educational and cultural exchange with minimal paperwork and inconvenience to the international guest. The entire program is supported in part by U.S. and foreign government funds. Because the U.S. government and foreign governments have a shared interest in having the exchange visitor alien return home at the end of his/her program, the J-1 may be used only for temporary activities and not as a bridge to permanent resident status. To ensure that exchange visitors do return home, J-1 status may carry with it a requirement that the alien, after completion of his/her program here, be physically present in the home country for two years before returning to or remaining in the U.S. in H, L or immigrant visa class. This "home residence requirement" applies to the following four groups of people:
1) those who receive U.S. government funding for exchange such as Fulbright scholars or National Institutes of Health fellows;
2) those who receive foreign government funding for exchange such as AMIDEAST-Peace Fellows;
3) those whose skills or training are on a "skills list" filed by the home government with the U.S. government; and
4) foreign physicians, regardless of funding or skills list, who receive graduate clinical medical training in the U.S. under ECFMG sponsorship.

Prohibition against category changes

All J-1 exchange visitors are in one of the following nine categories: college/university student; trainee; teacher; professor or research scholar; short-term scholar; specialist; medical trainee; international visitor; secondary school student. Generally, an exchange visitor may not change from one category to another; however, under exceptional and unusual circumstances it may be possible to apply to the Exchange Visitor Program for permission for certain category changes. This application process usually takes several months.

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