How to Apply
To apply to the VISER program, you must:
- 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
- Have not previously held J-1 visa status as a non-student
- 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 are eligible for the VISER program, but green card holders are not eligible. 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 76 on the TOEFL iBT, or an overall band score of 6.0 on the IELTS.
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.
- All applicants must submit official TOEFL or IELTS 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
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 will be interviewed by phone or in person or 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 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. The host department completes Parts A–B, E, H and K of the VISER J-Visa Request, and the student completes Parts C–E, G and I–J. Your home institution is required to complete Part F.
5. Return the form via email to your UW host department, along with 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 76) or IELTS (minimum score is 6.0). Other language proficiency test scores will not be accepted.
6. Sign the VISER J-Visa Request by hand or electronically and send it back to the UW host department.
7. The host department sends all application materials to the VISER office for review and processing. The VISER office will express mail your DS-2019 with information regarding insurance coverage, housing, transportation, how to set-up your UW Net ID and UW email and other resources. Some of this information will also be emailed.
8. Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee and apply for a J-1 visa at the nearest U.S. consulate.
9. Present the DS-2019 and DS-7002 forms at the visa appointment. Accompanying family members should bring their DS-2019s and apply for their J-2 visas at the same time.
10. 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
Register to attend the mandatory J-1 Visa Orientation the first Monday after you arrive. Bring the DS-2019 forms for you and any dependents along with a printout of your I-94 card, passport, Statement of Compliance and Seattle-area residence address to the orientation. You will receive the Statement of Compliance included with your DS-2019 after acceptance into the VISER program.