International Activities and Initiatives


International Activities and Initiatives

Hosting an International Scholar

Procedures for hosting an international scholar vary depending on the length of the visit, sources of funding for the visit, and the activities associated with the visit. International Student and Scholar Services provides support for University of Minnesota units bringing foreign scholars to campus.

Short Visits

Visas

Short visits for a lecture, performance, or conference participation normally require a B-1 visa.

For individuals coming from countries for which the United States waives visa requirements, there is a requirement that the individual receive travel authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. This request is the responsibility of the visitor rather than the University of Minnesota. Visitors should be encouraged to visit the website of the US embassy in their home country to determine current requirements.

Letter of Invitation

It is always important for the visitor to have a letter of invitation from the University of Minnesota as well as several contact phone numbers in case there are questions when the visitor is attempting to enter the United States.

The letter should describe:

  • Activities in which the individual will be engaged (e.g. lecture, workshop)
  • Support for the visit (e.g. honoraria, reimbursement for expenses)
  • Where the individual will stay (e.g. name of hotel)

If asked at immigration, it is important that the visitor say that he/she is traveling for business purposes.

Forms, Documentation, and Taxes

Whether a visa is required or waived, reimbursement for travel expenses or payment of honoraria will require specific documentation. In addition to University reimbursement forms, this includes a copy of the visitor’s passport, visa, and I-94 form. The I-94 form is on-line and is created upon entry into the United States. Visitors will need to go on-line and print it out in order for a payment to be processed.

Honoraria are subject to United States taxation. Unless the visitor has filed tax treaty forms, taxes will be withheld.

Longer Visits

Visas

Generally a J-1 visa is appropriate.

The steps required in obtaining a J-1 visa are clearly outlined at International Students and Scholar Services.

Letter of Invitation

It is always important for the visitor to have a letter of invitation from the University of Minnesota as well as several contact phone numbers in case there are questions when the visitor is attempting to enter the United States.

All of the issues below should be addressed in the letter of invitation. The letter of invitation must be approved by the Associate Dean for Arts & Humanities or the Associate Dean for Social Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts.

  • What will the visitor’s duties be?
  • What will be the appointment type?
  • What office space will be available?
  • What computer or other equipment will be available?
  • Will the individual have library access?
  • Will the individual have a University of Minnesota email account?
  • How will the costs be covered?
    • Salary or honorarium?
    • Stipend?
    • Travel?
    • Visa?
    • Health insurance?
  • What support will be offered to assist in locating housing?

If asked at immigration, it is important that the visitor say that he/she is traveling for business purposes.

Forms and Health Insurance

Visits for longer periods involve more extensive preparations. Please contact the International Student and Scholar Services for more information.

In addition, all visiting scholars and their dependents who are here for 31 days or longer are required to have University of Minnesota health insurance.

Assigning a Faculty Mentor

Finally, it is important to consider the long term impact as well as the social aspects of the visit. It is required to assign the J-1 exchange visitor a faculty mentor, who will introduce him/her to colleagues, act as a point person for questions about academic culture, etc.

Welcoming the visitor to the department will determine whether the visit is a success and whether an institutional relationship can thrive. Leaving the visitor to his or her own devices is usually considered a sign of disrespect. Ideally the visit will enable the development or maintenance of a strong and multi-faceted connection between CLA and the partner abroad. More information about faculty mentors visit: http://isss.umn.edu/Departments/JMentorRes.html

Developing Institutional Partnerships

Partnerships with institutions abroad contribute in important ways to the internationalization of our campus and experiences for students. Agreements can also proliferate without furthering these objectives.

Given the effort and resources required for meaningful partnerships consider the following:

  • Who will participate in exchanges? Faculty, graduate students, undergraduates?
  • For what length of time?
  • How will the costs of the exchange be covered?
  • Do other colleges at the University of Minnesota have agreements with the foreign university?
  • What other partnerships does the University of Minnesota have with institutions in that country?

There are a range of models for institutional partnerships, but all agreements must be approved by the college and by the Office of the General Counsel.

For support developing partnerships with institutions abroad, contact the assistant dean for international programs, Evelyn Davidheiser at edavidh@umn.edu.

Leading Study Abroad Courses

Many faculty members have found leading short term study abroad courses to be a rewarding experience. Most often these take place during May term or between fall and spring semesters. The Learning Abroad Center provides support in developing and launching these courses.

Traveling Abroad for Academic Purposes

International Insurance

International health insurance, available through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI), is inexpensive and provides significantly more coverage than MedEx, the insurance that is part of the standard University benefits plan.

CISI insurance is required for:

  • Students traveling abroad for study purposes
  • Faculty, when traveling with students

CISI insurance is recommended for:

  • Faculty, when traveling for their own research/scholarship

Avoiding Problems with Encrypted Computers

Encrypted computers may not cross the border into, or out of, many countries, and your computer may be seized by custom agents abroad. Faculty are strongly encouraged to borrow a laptop computer from LATIS that has been configured for foreign travel.

Call the Office of of Information Technology helpline at 612-301-4357 or email help@umn.edufor information on loaner laptops.