Other Visa Categories at UC San Diego

The following information is provided as a guide to the various visa classifications available to international visitors at UC San Diego. 

All new international scholars (including transfer scholars from other U.S. institutions) must visit UC San Diego's International Center upon arrival in the U.S. Registration is required for ALL new UC San Diego scholars who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. 

Please make sure to bring your employment authorization doucments, passport, and provide us with your contact information (address, phone number, and email address) in San Diego.

TN Workers (Mexican and Canadian Citizens)

Requesting TN Status

  • Before applying for your visa stamp, make sure you have the departmental TN invitation letter that references the appropriate NAFSA occupational title (Canadian TNs will not need visa stamps, but will need this document to apply for admission)

General Responsibilities for Maintaining TN Status

  • Employment: You are authorized to stay in the U.S. to work in the UC San Diego position described in your employment letter, through the duration indicated on your electronic or paper Form I-94 (or I-797 approval notice if status changed/extended inside the U.S.)
  • Job changes: Significant changes in your job duties may require filing an amended petition with USCIS or traveling and reentering prior to those changes taking place; notify ISO immediately of any anticipated changes.
  • Occasional lectures and consultation: A TN may not consult outside of UC San Diego unless employed by an additional, concurrent employer. In regards to occasional lectures, this is possible as long as you do not receive compensation. Please refer additional questions to an IFSO advisor.
  • Study: a TN may enroll in classes as long as they are incidental to their employment.
  • Taxes: Individuals in TN status are required to file both state and federal taxes.

Change of Employer/Concurrent Employment

  • Change of employer: to change employers, the new employer must either file an I-129 petition with USCIS and have it approved prior to the TN starting employment, or the TN must travel and re-enter with the new employer's employment letter.
  • Concurrent employment: it is possible to have TN status with more than one employer; the new employer may either file an I-129 petition with USCIS and have it approved prior to the TN starting employment, or the TN must travel and re-enter with the new employer's employment letter 

Dependents and Dependent Employment

  • Overview: spouses and unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) are eligible for TD status.
  • Admission/visa: If not accompanying the principal TN, Canadian citizen dependents may apply for TD status upon admission to the U.S. with a copy of the principal's electronic or paper Form I-94, employment letter, and marriage/birth certificate. Mexican and Canadian non-citizen dependents of TN principals will require TD visas and may apply for these with copies of the principal's I-94 card, employment letter, and marriage/birth certificate, prior to applying for admission upon entry.  If accompanying the principal, proof of relationship and visas, if necessary, will be required upon entry.
  • Application process: dependents may apply for change to or extension of TD status through Form I-539, based on derivative status of the principal TN.  See USCIS instructions and form for further information.
  • Work: TD dependents are not allowed to work in the U.S.
  • Study: TD dependents may study in the U.S., full- or part-time.  Dependents should weigh the benefits of changing their status to F-1 versus remaining in TD status.

F-1 OPT/CPT

Requesting F-1 OPT/CPT Status

  • Make sure you have the appropriate employment authorization document before beginning work
    • F-1 OPT: EAD card
    • F-1 CPT: I-20 authorization
    • F-1 STEM OPT: EAD card (see institutional protocol for steps in obtaining this OPT extension)
      • For UC San Diego's e-verify number, please contact Marcele Maia (main campus) or Ruthlyn Sinclair (Health Sciences)

B-1 Business Status

Overview

The B-1 Business status allows visitors to enter the U.S. as non-immigrants for up to six months for business or pleasure, with the possibility to extend the status for an additional six months.

Visitors entering in this status cannot engage in employment in the U.S. nor enroll in an academic study program. The U.S. Department of State expressly indicates that the B-1 may be used for "independent research."

Visitors in this status are permitted to change to another non-immigrant classification, provided they had no preconceived intent to do this prior to their entry in B status (or, if so, disclosed this intent to U.S. officials prior to their entry in B status).

  • B-1 status (Visitor for Business): An international visitor entering in B-1 status holds a permanent residence in a foreign country that he/she has no intention of abandoning, and who is visiting the U.S. temporarily for business, such as consulting with business associates; participating in scientific, educational, or professional conventions, conferences, or seminars; or undertaking independent research.  These must all be short-term, non-salaried academic activities. Persons in B-1 status may be reimbursed for reasonable business costs where UC San Diego has a business purpose (e.g., inviting an expert speaker to a conference) and, if their activity on campus lasts no longer than nine days from beginning to end of their activity, can be granted an honorarium, provided that they will be granted honoraria from no more than five institutions during their stay in the U.S.  The department's letter of invitation should indicate the types of activity that will be pursued, and these activities should correspond to those indicated as acceptable for the B-1 classification by the U.S. Dept. of State (see http://travel.state.gov/pdf/BusinessVisa.pdf).  If activities do not conform to those listed, the U.S. Dept. of State may require a different visa, such as a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa, in which case the department will need to go through the J-1 request procedure.  Note that the U.S. Dept. of State indicates the following about student training and B-1 status in notes to its Foreign Affairs Manual: "aliens, often students, who seek to gain practical experience through on-the-job training or clerkships must qualify under INA 101(a)(15)(H) or (L), or when an appropriate exchange visitors program exists (J)."  It is our experience that language using "internship" will be interpreted by the U.S. DOS as a program activity requiring J status.
  • B-2 status (Visitor for Pleasure): An international visitor entering in B-2 status has recreational intent, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, and activities of a social nature. In ALL cases, we recommend that departments invite visitors in B-1, rather than B-2, status.

Requesting B-1 Status

Scholars who come to UC San Diego for consulting, conferences, independent research, etc., for fewer than six months should enter the U.S. in B-1 status.

The scholar should request B-1 status be granted them at the port of entry, when the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer is preparing to stamp the I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. Presentation of the letter of invitation (see below) from the UC San Diego inviting department should be made at this point.

To offer B-1 business status to short-term visitors, an academic department must issue a letter of invitation to the visitor.

Sample invitation letter:

United States Consulate
(if known:  insert city and country)
Non-Immigrant Visa Section

and

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing on behalf of Dr./Mr./Ms. _______________________________________.

I have invited Dr./Ms./Mr. to (choose one) attend a conference/give a presentation/for a short-term independent research project at the University of California, San Diego from _____________________ to _________________________.

Dr./Mr./Ms. _____________________ will not receive any salary or compensation for services from the University of California, San Diego during her/his stay in the U.S. (OR: Dr./Mr./Ms. will receive an honorarium in the amount of ___________________). S/he will be supported by _________________.

I request that Dr./Mr./Ms. _______________________________ be granted a (B-1) Visitor for Business visa and entry to the United States in B-1 status.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

(Signature)
Professor of _____________________________________

WB Visa Waiver Program

Overview

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of certain countries to enter the U.S. as non-immigrants for up to 90 days for business or pleasure.

Visitors entering on the Visa Waiver Program can neither engage in employment in the U.S. nor enroll in an academic study program.  The U.S. Department of State expressly indicates that the B-1 and, by extension, the WB, may be used for "independent research."

Visitors in this status are not permitted to change to another visa category within the U.S., nor are they allowed to extend their stay beyond the 90-day period of admission.

Types of waivers
  • WB status (Visitor for Business): An international visitor entering in WB status holds a permanent residence in a foreign country that he/she has no intention of abandoning, and who is visiting the U.S. temporarily for business, such as consulting with business associates; participating in scientific, educational, or professional conventions, conferences, or seminars; or undertaking independent research.  These must all be short-term, non-salaried academic activities. Persons in WB status may be reimbursed for reasonable business costs where UC San Diego has a business purpose (e.g., inviting an expert speaker to a conference) and, if their activity on campus lasts no longer than nine days from beginning to end of their activity, can be granted an honorarium, provided that they will be granted honoraria from no more than five institutions during their stay in the U.S. The department's letter of invitation should indicate the types of activity that will be pursued, and these activities should correspond to those indicated as acceptable for the B-1/WB classification by the U.S. Dept. of State (see https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visa-waiver-program.html).  If activities do not conform to those listed, the U.S. Dept. of State may require a visa, such as a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa, in which case the department will need to go through the J-1 request procedure.   Note that the U.S. Dept. of State indicates the following about student training and B-1/WB status in notes to its Foreign Affairs Manual: "aliens, often students, who seek to gain practical experience through on-the-job training or clerkships must qualify under INA 101(a)(15)(H) or (L), or when an appropriate exchange visitors program exists (J)." It is our experience that language using "internship" will be interpreted by the U.S. DOS as a program activity requiring J status.
  • WT status (Visitor for Pleasure): An international visitor entering in WT visa status has recreational intent, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, and activities of a social nature. In ALL cases, we recommend that the department invite visitors in WB, rather than WT, status.

Requesting WB Status

Citizens of the following countries are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program:

  • Andorra
  • France
  • Liechtenstein
  • South Korea*
  • Australia
  • Germany
  • Lithuania
  • San Marino
  • Austria
  • Greece
  • Luxembourg
  • Singapore
  • Belgium
  • Hungary
  • Malta
  • Slovakia
  • Brunei
  • Chile
  • Iceland
  • Monaco
  • Slovenia
  • Czech Republic
  • Ireland
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • Denmark
  • Italy
  • New Zealand
  • Sweden
  • Estonia
  • Japan
  • Norway
  • Switzerland
  • Finland
  • Latvia
  • Portugal
  • United Kingdom
  • Taiwan
  • Republic of Korea

Nationals of the above countries are not required to obtain non-immigrant visas at an American embassy or consulate to visit the U.S. 

This is a Department of Homeland Security travel authorization system. A VWP traveler should apply for ESTA at least 72 hours in advance of arrival to the U.S.

To apply for ESTA, visit: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/.

Travelers will not be able to submit ESTA applications at a U.S. port of entry or a U.S. embassy or consulate.

The following documents are required to apply for the Visa Waiver Program:

  • A valid machine-readable passport
  • Evidence of intent to return to the home country in 90 days (example: round-trip airline ticket)
  • Proof of financial support (example: bank statement)
  • Invitation letter from UC San Diego (see here for sample)

For more information, please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

Upon entry, VWP applicants will request WB status from the U.S. Port of Entry Officer. There is no "visa application process;" no visa (stamp from the U.S. consulate) is required prior to entry.

However, the visitor must provide certain documents and must enroll in the ESTA program prior to coming to the U.S. (see lists below).

VWP entrants do not receive a Form I-94, unlike persons admitted in all other non-immigrant classifications. Instead, the  WB (or WT) status indication is stamped in the passport directly by the officer at the port of entry.

One should not enter the U.S. on the VWP program if there is any possibility to stay in the U.S. longer than 90 days, change to another status, or receive payment of salary.

O-1 Extraordinary Ability

Overview

O-1 status is available to persons who have demonstrated a record of national or international acclaim, a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.

An O-1 visa petition will be filed only under the following conditions:

  • The international visitor meets the qualification of "extraordinary ability" and is able to provide substantial documentation required for the O-1;
  • The international visitor is subject to the 2-year home requirement, is unable to obtain a waiver, and is therefore precluded from obtaining H-1B status; and
  • The international visitor will be paid a wage that is consistent with the designation of an individual of extraordinary ability.

The international visitor must realize that he/she will have to travel outside the United States to obtain the O-1 visa once the petition is approved in order to re-enter the U.S. in O-1 status with employment authorization.

All O-1 petitions must be coordinated by the International Center.