How to Apply

Admission Requirements

To apply to the VISER program, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old by the start of the program
  • Be pursuing a degree at an accredited postsecondary academic institution outside the United States
  • Have come to the United States primarily to engage in a student research project rather than to engage in employment or provide services
  • Be in good academic standing at your home institution
  • Have established a relationship with a UW department or center
  • Intend to return to your home institution after completion of the VISER project to finish your degree
  • Have a level of English language proficiency sufficient to perform successfully in the VISER program
  • Have received at least 51% of the total program expenses from your home government or home university, or be a student at a university with a written exchange agreement with the UW that has been signed by the Vice Provost of Global Affairs
  • Agree to comply with University of Washington policies, including the Student Conduct Code and intellectual property policies

Note: Dual citizens who are enrolled in a foreign university may be eligible for the VISER program. If you're already in the United States on a student visa and are interested in transferring to the VISER program, you must contact us before starting the application process.

Proof of English Language Proficiency

Applicants must demonstrate a high level of English proficiency and have earned at least a 80 on the TOEFL iBT, an overall band score of 6.5 on the IELTS, or an overall score of 105 on the Duolingo English Test.

You can submit a copy of your score report with your VISER application as a placeholder until the VISIT office can verify your official score.

Please note:

  • All applicants must submit official TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo scores to be eligible for admission consideration.
  • Applicants from English speaking countries are not exempt from the English proficiency requirement.
  • Previous ESL coursework or English composition courses, even when taken in the United States, will not satisfy the English proficiency requirement.
  • An associate degree from a community college does not exempt applicants from submitting English proficiency exam scores.

Application Steps

The following steps are required for admission to the Visiting International Student Engaged in Research (VISER) program. You should allow at least three to five months to complete this process, including your visa interview (see the VISER Program Timeline). Submit your completed sections of the VISER application and any additional paperwork to the UW host department or program in a timely manner, so that the complete application packet can be submitted to the VISER office at least 12 weeks before the start of the research project.

1. Contact the UW VISER office ( for more information on the VISER program. The VISER office will provide resources on how to connect with the UW academic department or program where you would like to conduct research or work-based learning. The department should match the area of specialization in your degree program. (Note: Individuals who wish to enroll in coursework at the UW should not apply for an internship but instead contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office or the Graduate Admissions Office for information about applying as an international student.)

2. If you and the department agree to the general goals of the internship, you'll be interviewed by your UW host supervisor.

3. Working with your UW host supervisor, choose the start and end date of your internship. You must enter the United States on or up to 30-days before the start date listed on the VISER application and the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status–Form DS-2019 (DS-2019). Keep in mind that it may take up to 5 months for you, your UW host supervisor and the UW to complete and process your VISER application. From the time the VISER office receives your completed VISER application from your UW host department, it can take another 4–6 weeks until you receive your DS-2019. The DS-2019 is the document you will use to complete your visa interview and obtain your visa.

4. Your UW department will work with you to complete the VISER J-Visa Supplemental Request form. Your home institution is required to complete a section of the form as well. 

5. The host department will provide you with a link to begin the online application. You'll upload a copy of your passport ID page, financial documentation (English translation of bank statement and/or sponsor letter on letterhead), and official score report from TOEFL iBT (minimum score is 80) or IELTS (minimum score is 6.5) or Duolingo (minimum score is 105). Other language proficiency test scores will not be accepted.

6. Once your portion of the online application is completed, your UW host department will be automatically notified to complete their portion of the online application. They'll upload the completed VISER J-VISA Supplemental Request Form to the online application. The VISER office will review and process your application and will email your DS-2019 with information regarding insurance coverage, housing, transportation, how to set up your UW Net ID and UW email, and other resources.  

7. Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee and apply for a J-1 visa at the nearest U.S. consulate.

8. Present the DS-2019 form at the visa appointment. Accompanying family members should bring their DS-2019s and apply for their J-2 visas at the same time.

9. Enter the United States on or within 30 days prior to the start date indicated in item #3 of the DS-2019 form. You may not enter the country after the start date listed on the DS-2019. If you cannot enter the country by the start date, contact the VISER office immediately so that the DS-2019 can be updated and reissued.

For more information about J-1 visas at the University of Washington, please reference the International Scholars Operations J-1 visa page.

What Happens Next

Get Health Insurance

As a VISER student intern, you are required to purchase a LewerMark student health insurance policy before attending your required J-Visa Orientation at the UW. This insurance is required even if you have insurance from your home country. The VISER office will provide insurance enrollment instructions when you receive your DS-2019, and at the J-Visa Orientation you will submit a Statement of Compliance with Insurance Requirements that includes your policy number.

Register for J-1 Visa Orientation

Thirty days before your VISER program start date, you'll receive an email with an invitation to attend the mandatory J-1 Visa Orientation. Select the first available orientation after you arrive in the United States. When you attend, have available the DS-2019 forms for you and any dependents along with your I-94 card, passport, Statement of Compliance, Seattle-area residence address and U.S. phone number. The Statement of Compliance will be available after acceptance to the VISER program.