Host Visiting International Scholars

Hosting a visiting scholar for a semester or a year can enhance Winona State University’s academic environment.

Carefully planning the scholar’s visit with the appropriate cultural considerations will help make the experience great for all parties involved. 

Sponsoring a Visiting Scholar

Each visiting scholar needs to have a sponsor on the WSU campus, typically a department or program that is most closely associated with the visiting scholar’s work. 

The Center for Global Education (CGE) should be contacted as early in the process as possible. Approvals must be secured from the chair of the department in which the visiting scholar will be housed, the academic college dean, and the Provost—each of whom should confirm their approval by email to CGE. 

The CGE will coordinate the written invitation to the international scholar. This email simply needs to indicate the sender’s approval.

The visiting scholar is expected to engage with university life throughout the visit and be involved in activities such as: 

  • teaching and lecturing
  • conducting workshops
  • engaging in research
  • giving presentations to WSU and the greater community while at WSU
  • other activities as appropriate

Visiting scholars may be invited by an instructor to observe an occasional course but may not enroll in or audit WSU classes without previously:

  • applying for admission
  • applying for and receiving an F1 student visa
  • paying tuition and fees

If you are hosting a visiting scholar who expresses interest in taking WSU courses, advise them that doing so violates the terms of their “J” or “B” visa.

Letter of Invitation

The visiting scholar must receive a formal Letter of Invitation (PDF) which is coordinated by the Center for Global Education. 

Typically, the letter is signed by the Chair of the Department hosting the scholar, but it may also be signed by the Dean of that department’s College, the Assistant Vice President of the Center for Global Education, the Provost, or another university administrator when appropriate. 

The letter of invite must clarify both the scholar’s and the university’s commitments related to funding, compensation, teaching, lecturing, and/or research responsibilities. This letter is an important part of the visitor’s visa application documentation.

Requirements for Visiting Scholars

Visiting scholars must have adequate English proficiency to participate in the visiting scholar program, as required by the U.S. Department of State.

When you first talk with the Center for Global Education about your proposed visitor, you will be asked whether the participant has adequate English proficiency and how this assessment was conducted (e.g., phone conversation, writing sample, video conferencing).

Visiting scholars are expected to have their own funding. WSU does not pay a stipend or salary unless hired as an employee. Visiting scholars are required to show proof of financial support for the duration of their program participation.

If the scholar is performing any responsibilities that are covered by the IFO contract, the individual must be compensated accordingly, which is why early consultation with HR is so important. In those rare cases where the scholar is to receive compensation, Human Resources will ensure all federal and state regulations are met and will manage the appointment process.

ISSS will work with the department and the scholar to gather the documents necessary for proof of financial support. The minimum financial support that is required is:

  • $1,000 / month for J-1 Exchange Visitor
  • $500 / month for J-2 Dependent Spouse (if applicable)
  • $500 / month for each J-2 Dependent Child (if applicable)

All financial documents must be current at the time of application to be considered valid. Appropriate documents reflecting financial ability include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Bank statement, stamped or signed by a bank official
  • Affidavit of support, submitted by sponsor & accompanied by financial verification
  • Scholarship letter from sponsoring organization outlining dates and terms of scholarships
  • Letter from employer stating earnings for period of requested stay
  • Contract listing areas of support

Health insurance is mandatory. Scholars must prove they have insurance or will purchase it on arrival. They may work with ISSS for assistance with this.

The medical insurance must cover the following as required by the U.S. Department of State:

  • At least $50,000 per person, per accident/per illness
  • $7,500 for repatriation of remains
  • $10,000 for medical evacuation
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident/per illness


The WSU host faculty member or department chair must work with the International Student and Scholar Services Office to determine the type of visa needed (“B” visa or “J” visa). This office will also assist the visiting scholar with the visa application and immigration process.

Hiring a Visiting Scholar

In rare cases where a visiting scholar will have specific work responsibilities while on campus, faculty/department host must be in contact with Human Resources very early in the process and before a letter of invitation is sent to the scholar. 

The visitor may need to be hired as a fixed term or adjunct faculty member. If the scholar will be fixed term faculty, the Dean must send HR a Creditable Experience Form and curriculum vitae so HR can complete a salary calculation and determine the benefit package. If the scholar’s work does not fall under the guidelines of the IFO contract, HR’s participation in the process is over.

If the scholar has been hired as an adjunct or fixed term faculty, they must visit the Human Resources office after obtaining their SSN. 

Human Resources will issue a token to initiate the onboarding process which assigns a StarID, Warrior ID, and email account. The chairperson/department will then assign the scholar to courses in Term Course which feeds the Faculty Workload Management system. 

The scholar will complete an I-9 form and present HR with original immigration documents, so HR can determine tax residency status. HR will schedule an appointment with the scholar to review documents and benefits. Benefits will vary based on workload.  

To make sure this process is completed prior to the start of the scholar’s assignment; the visitor should be advised to arrive in Winona as early as possible – preferably 10 days to 2 weeks prior to the start of the academic year. Failure to obtain a SSN will result in a delayed start date.

Hosting a Visiting Scholar

The faculty member or department extending the invitation must be prepared to host the visitor throughout the visit. 

International visitors to our campus should be well received. There are both logistical and culturally relevant considerations. 


Consider accommodations for the visiting scholar.

Visitors are responsible for their own living arrangements and related expenses, such as food, parking, and entertainment.

However, the host can provide information about local accommodations such as rentals or hotels.


Consider transportation needs for the visitor.

The host or designee will arrange for airport pickup and return or will provide information about how to reach campus and what to do once arrived.


Identify a suitable workspace for the visitor.

Office space must be approved by the appropriate department chair and college dean.

The host department should coordination access to a WSU computer if one is needed.


Help orient the visitor – let them know how to get around and what resources are available.

Help the visitor connect to ongoing campus, community, and regional events and opportunities.


Help the visitor be introduced to the campus and the community.

This may include hosting a reception for them, introducing them to department members and/or other university staff, and giving them a tour of campus and the larger community.

Provide access to university resources such as the library and WSU email, as appropriate.

Checklist for Hosting an International Scholar

  1. Confer with the Center for Global Education about your interest in or pending invitation to a visiting scholar. This will also ensure that staff in ISSS becomes involved to determine which visa is required.
  2. Secure approval to host the visiting scholar (from department chair, Dean, Provost, etc.)
  3. Identify the faculty member/department who will serve as host for the duration of the scholar’s stay
  4. In the case the scholar will be paid by Winona State and/or have work responsibilities that fall under the IFO contract, meet with Human Resources. 
  5. If the scholar will not be paid by Winona State, you will need to request that a Non-WSU account be created for them. This will aid you and the scholar in obtaining a StarID, email address, laptop, Warrior ID card, and many other amenities on campus. Visit Network/Non-WSU Account Wiki page for more information and to make that request. 
  6. Housing is not provided for visiting scholars. In those rare cases where there may be an exception to this, meet with the Director of Housing to learn whether there is on-campus availability, or provide other information to the scholar such as rental or hotel accommodations. 
  7. Ask the Center for Global Education to issue the Letter of Invitation (PDF)
  8. Greet and welcome the visiting scholar. Escort them to ISSS, and then to HR (if relevant)
  9. Introduce them to campus and colleagues
After Arrival to WSU


International Student & Scholar Services


Email International Student & Scholar Services
Study Abroad


Email the Study Abroad Office