Visiting International Scholar Program

Visiting International Scholar Program

The mission of Northern Michigan University (NMU) encourages students and employees to “…embrace diversity and become productive citizens in the regional and global community.”  NMU’s strategic plan, Investing in Innovation, identifies domestic and global outreach and engagement as one of its strategic foci.  An anticipated outcome of this focus is that partnerships will be expanded with people here and around the world.”  Therefore NMU views the presence of international visiting scholars as being important and aligning 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 are scholars, researchers, or other academic personnel temporarily residing at NMU with defined but unescorted access to University facilities.  The designation of “visiting scholar” is ordinarily made for a minimum of three weeks and a maximum of one year.  International scholars usually come to NMU in a number of ways:

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


Table of Contents

Application Guidelines

Letter of Invitation

Length of Stay

English Language Proficiency

Expectations for International Visiting Scholars

Services provided for International Visiting Scholars

Summary Steps for International Visiting Scholar appointment

Certification of Finances


Application Guidelines

Northern Michigan University accepts only visiting scholars with a completed masters or doctorate degree.  All visiting scholar applicants need to complete the Application for Visiting International Scholar form.  A completed application should be submitted to the department head four months prior to the intended date of arrival.


Letter of Invitation

A letter of invitation will be sent to visiting scholar applicants from the department head when the completed application materials have been received, reviewed, and approved.  This process also includes securing a department faculty mentor and may take 3-4 weeks.  Visiting scholar appointments will be granted on the basis of departmental and faculty mentor availability.  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.


Length of Stay

Visiting scholars may visit the University for up to one year.  Most faculty are not available to work with visiting scholars during the summer months.  Thus it is important that an early understanding be established about 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, scholars must have a 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 who agrees to provide guidance on a chosen 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. 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 time period.
  • The scholar may also be expected to contribute their expertise in translating materials and furthering NMU’s internationalization efforts.



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 either in a specific Department or at the University in general.  A visiting scholar:

  • May visit a Department for up to one year.
  • Is assigned a shared office space 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.
  • Budget and staffing limitations prohibit access to the following services: copying on department equipment, long distance telephone calls and support staff or graduate student assistance.
  • May use University recreational facilities upon payment of fees.
  • 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 any education placement needs for school age family members.


Summary Steps for International Scholar Application

1. (Optional) Identify and contact faculty mentor within host department  

2. Gather and submit application material to department head

  • Application form
  • CV in English
  • Recommendation letter from home institution that outlines current position, current teaching/research/administrative responsibilities, highest degree achieved and funding)

3. The host department head (in consultation with the International Education Services Office) reviews application with the faculty mentor who may request a Skype interview with the applicant.  The final decision about the application rests with the department head.

4. If approved, a formal letter of invitation is provided to the applicant from the department head.

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: and

6. Visa application submitted to US authorities.

7. Once a visa is obtained the applicant makes travel arrangements and housing is arranged with the NMU Housing office.

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 Education Services Office website or by contact an immigration advisor in the International Education Services at 2001 Hedgcock or 906-227-2510.