Hiring International Students, Scholars, or Student Interns

Georgia Institute of Technology is a model of internationalization with thousands of international students and scholars making meaningful contributions to our campus. It is critical when hiring international students or hosting an international scholar that departments be knowledgeable of and consider U.S. federal regulations, USG System policies, institutional policy, and the long term plans of the scholar.

OIE is the University’s representative to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Department of State in relation to the hiring and hosting of international students and scholars on campus.

Visa Assistance for International Students, Scholars or Student Interns:

We recommend students and scholars applying for a visa stamp understand that, in most cases, the U.S. visa process requires an interview where the individual is expected to express their intent and eligibility for the visa and present documentation demonstrating eligibility in the form of:

  • a valid I-20 or DS-2019
  • Unexpired passport
  • Proof of funding: Letter from department stating the amount of stipend/compensation that student or scholar is receiving and/or original bank statements or official sponsorship letters.
  • Complete resume and list of publications (if any)
  • When student or scholar will be employed by Georgia Tech (including a GRA/GTA); a description of the employment, in laymen’s terms, including who is principal researcher and how much the stipend is (in US$)
  • Proof of "binding ties" to the home country. The visa officer wants student to return to the home country after graduation.

Students and Scholars who will apply for a renewal of a visa stamp should plan to have evidence demonstrating they have maintained their status up to the point of the visa interview, such as:

  • Official transcript and/or Enrollment Verification letter (obtain from the Registrar's office)
  • Description of the degree program from the Georgia Tech catalog: www.catalog.gatech.edu/
  • Evidence of continuous health insurance (J Exchange Visitors)

It is generally not possible to "speed up" visa processing times or to assist a student with getting a visa appointment sooner than available. It's important to remember there are certain areas of study/research and countries that have a higher sensitivity and are viewed with more scrutiny by the U.S. consulates. A department may decide it is best to write a letter for students with more descriptive information about proposed thesis research and study areas when they are participating in research in a highly sensative area or when they are from a country where Administrative Processing is likely. If a student or scholar is issued a 221(g) decision in the visa interview, please ensure the OIE is notified using the appropriate e-form available in iStart.

Hiring International Students, Scholars or Student Interns:

Georgia Institute of Technology hosts foreign nationals who hold a number of visa types.  The information in this section has been developed to provide a basic information to Georgia Tech hiring departments about the immigration status options available and help the department to determine the  visa that is most appropriate and advantageous. Both the Office of International Education and the Office of Global Human Resources support non-U.S. Citizen GT affiliates and employees with immigration and visas.

The Office of International Education administers the J Exchange Visitor Program and the J scholar and J student categories available at Georgia Tech.  Please refer to the J Student and J Scholar category options for more detail about the J Exchange Visitor Program and available J categories. Also refer to the J Student Intern decision tree to identify if the Student Intern category is appropriate for your visitor. The OIE also supports Georgia Tech students who enroll FT in a degree program using the F student visa type. Email jscholars@oie.gatech.edu if your question is not answered in the information provided on this page.

Global Human Resources supports immigration services for nonimmigrant or immigrant employment sponsorship and individuals with work authorization based on their visa status (including employees in F-1 status with OPT or CPT,  J-2s with employment authorization, etc).  Additionally, Global HR provides assistance to departments hosting foreign national visitors (generally in B-1 or VWB status). For additional information see visit the Global HR website or email immigration@ohr.gatech.edu.

The OIE and GHR have worked together to create a Visa Type Questionnaire e-form in iStart to provide administrators a way to inform us of the plans for an individual's visit to Georgia Tech. Completing the Visa Type Questionnaire will allow us to offer additional guidance about the visa options available.

To identify the appropriate visa type and begin a request in iStart, hiring managers must identify answers to the following:
  1. What is the primary purpose of the individual's visit to Georgia Tech?
  2. Will Georgia Tech benefit from the individual's visit, is the benefit to the individual visitor or will both benefit from their activities/visit?
  3. Are there secondary activities that the individual would like to do during their stay? If yes, what are they?
  4. What is the amount and source of financial support for the activities the scholar will conduct? Specifically, is the person going to receive compensation of any sort from Georgia Tech? If not, how will they fund their stay in the U.S. understanding that a minimum monthly standard is set by Georgia Tech that must be demonstrated as a part of visa sponsorship.
  5. What are the anticipated dates the individual will participate in the activity under the supervision of a faculty member at Georgia Tech? Is there a reasonable likelihood the individual may need more time to complete their primary activity?
  6. What are potential future plans of both the individual and the hiring department with regard to the research collaboration?

Based on the answers to the questions above, administrators in the host department will have sufficient context to submit the Visa Type Questionnaire e-form which allows the OIE and GHR to identify the available visa options.

F-1 Students-

The majority of international students enrolled at U.S. Universities hold an F-1 visa status. The main purpose of the F visa category is to complete a program of study in the U.S.  While studying is the primary activity, the F visa status allows a student to be employed in the U.S. under conditions established by the Department of Homeland Security.

On Campus Employment: While F-1 students are maintaining status, they are permitted to work on the Georgia Tech campus during the academic year. On-campus employment means the student works for Georgia Tech or works at a Georgia Tech location with an employer that is contracted to provide services to students, such as a food store in the Student Center.  Work on campus is a benefit incidental to the F-1 visa status that is available to students upon reporting to Georgia Institute of Technology and completing the OIE check-in process using iStart. Contact the OIE if you or the student is unsure.

On campus considerations:

  • Fall/Spring academic semesters: Maximum of 20 hours per week
  • Official school/Summer Vacation and semester breaks: full time on campus (Note: if a student is required to register for the summer such when offered a GRA/GTA then only 20 hours per week is permitted).
  • On campus eligibility tied to enrollment status: on-campus employment is not permitted after an F-1 or J-1 student completes their academic program/enrollment in classes is no longer required (this includes Enrollment Waiver).  
  • Employment between programs (BS to MS, or MS to PhD): When the student has a new I-20 showing the new degree and plans to enroll the following semester they are eligible again for on-campus employment.

Off Campus Employment:  F-1 students pursuing Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate level education may be eligible to apply for off-campus work authorization. Off-campus work authorization must be directly related to a student's field of study. F-1 student visa holders may be authorized for off-campus employment based: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). Neither of these types of work authorization require the prospective U.S. employer to complete or submit an employment-based visa sponsorship petition to USCIS on behalf of the prospective employee. Employers are expected to consider what the learning objectives and training experience will be for the student visa holder.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is authorization to work off-campus based on a determination from the institution issuing the F-1 I-20 that the work is an integral part of the degree program. At Georgia Tech, CPT is available to F-1 students through participation in the COOP, Internship Program or an internship for academic credit based on academic program requirements. In both cases, the student can only be authorized for CPT for a period corresponding to the semester the student is enrolled in credit hours. The student is issued CPT authorization by the OIE which is listed on the I-20 form.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)  is authorized off-campus employment recommended by the F-1 student's degree awarding institution and then adjudicated with USCIS. OPT allows F-1 students the opportunity to pursue work experience in the U.S. before and/or after completion of a degree. Students are required to submit an application to USCIS each time they would like to request OPT. The OPT application requires they include an I-20 recommending the student be granted OPT authorization which is issued by their home institution international student advisor. Georgia Tech students are advised to review the OPT tutorials available on the OIE website and then submit an OPT e-form using iStart. OPT is available for an initial period of 12 months of FT work. Students pursuing a DHS STEM eligible degree may be eligible for an additional 24 months of work permission if they meet conditions established by USCIS for STEM graduates.

J Exchange Visitor Program Overview:

The J Exchange Visitor Program was developed to implement the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (Fulbright-Hayes Act) of 1961. The overall purpose of that Act, and the objective of the Exchange Visitor category, is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges.

Georgia Institute of Technology is authorized to sponsor individuals who have the primary purpose is to participate in an educational and cultural exchange through participation in academic or scholarly activities supervised by a Georgia Tech faculty host. Georgia Tech has authorization to sponsor J Exchange Visitors under 9 of the available categories. The J visa is a non-immigrant visa, J Exchange Visitors can compensated for activities done for their sponsor as a part of their original program objectives. Host departments and prospective visitors should note that the J Exchange Visitor program is not an alternative to a work visa.

J Exchange Visitor Host Academic Unit, Faculty Host and OIE Responsibility:

Exchange visitors’ participation in their exchange program must be monitored by employees of the sponsor. Monitoring activities must not include any retaliation or discrimination against exchange visitors who make adverse comments related to the program Sponsors must: (1) Ensure that the activities in which exchange visitors are engaged are consistent with the category and activity listed on their Forms DS–2019; (2) Monitor the physical location (site of activity), and the progress and welfare of exchange visitors to the extent appropriate for the category; (3) Require that exchange visitors report to the sponsor within ten calendar days any changes in their telephone numbers, email addresses, actual and current U.S. addresses (i.e., physical residence), and site(s) of activity (if the exchange visitor is permitted to make such change without prior sponsor authorization); (4) Report in SEVIS within ten business days of notification by an exchange visitor any change in the exchange visitor’s actual and current U.S. address, telephone number, email address, and/or primary site of activity; and (5) Report the email address for each accompanying spouse and dependent.

J Student-

J student category visa holders must have all work authorized in the form of a letter and/or on the DS-2019 itself. J visa holders sponsored by other institutions/organizations will obtain a work authorization letter from their sponsor's Responsible Officer.

On-campus employment:  J-1 students can be authorized to work on the Georgia Tech campus as long as s/he meets the following conditions:

  • Remain in good academic standing.
  • Continue to engage in a full course of study.
  • Limit total employment to no more than 20 hours per week while in school, 40 hours per week during vacations.
  • His/her Responsible Officer has written a letter authorizing the on-campus work.

Academic Training (AT):  AT can be authorized to a J-1 student as long as s/he meets the following conditions:

  • Has primarily come to the U.S. to study, not to work.
  • Will engage in employment directly related to his/her major field of study.
  • Has completed all coursework required for the degree OR will work only during vacation periods or only part-time (20 hours/week) if still attending class.
  • Will maintain health insurance coverage while working.

Note: The maximum period allowable is 18 months although postdoctoral academic training may be authorized for up to an additional 18 months.

J Student Intern, Scholar and Professor-

At Georgia Tech,  these categories are possible because an academic school or research center at Georgia Tech has invited the individual to conduct research, internship or teaching with direct supervision by a Georgia Tech faculty member. Exchange Visitors in these categories are expected to complete an academic or research program and are NOT eligible to enroll in academic classes. The academic host must identify the program is suitable to the exchange visitor's background, needs, and experience. In addition, the exchange visitor must provide evidence they possesses sufficient proficiency in the English language to participate in his or her program and function independently in the community. After the sponsoring department has screened a prospective visitor and ensured the scholar has cleared Export Control review, the department administrator must initiate a request for a form DS-2019 for the prospective Exchange Visitor using iStart.

Employment with Georgia Tech: J Scholars and Professors are eligible to work for the academic school who is sponsoring their program at Georgia Tech in work related to the orginal objective of the exchange program. When the original objective of the scholar includes collaborative research projects with other units within Georgia Tech the scholar will be eligible to accept compensation for services from any of the collaborating Georgia Tech units. Significant changes in funding should be communicated with the OIE using iStart.

Occasional Lectures or Consultations: J Exchange Visitors may be authorized to accept payment from a source other than their sponsor when the scholar has written authorization from the Responsible Officer (RO) listed on the form DS-2019.  The authorization may be granted by the RO when the scholar provides evidence that the lectures, consultations or other similar occasional activity will support the exchange visitor’s to achieve the original program objectives, incidental to the exchange visitor's primary program activities and will not interfere with and are in alignment with the original objectives of the J exchange program If wages or other remuneration are received by the exchange visitor for such activities, the exchange visitor must act as an independent contractor. Georgia Tech scholars should be advised to submit their request using iStart.

J-2 Dependent Work Authorization: A J-2 dependent can apply for work authorization in US. The J-2 status should be used when the spouse or child has the objective of accompanying the J-1 primary as a J-2 dependent. If after arriving to the US the J-2 decides they would like to enhance their experience in the cultural and exchange program by seeking employment then the J-2 can prepare an application to request USCIS to authorize their ability to work in the U.S. The OIE can assist the J Exchange Visitor to prepare the USCIS application. We ask the J-1 submit the J-2 EAD e-form using iStart to notify the OIE of the J-2 dependent's plans to apply for work authorization.

If a spouse has been offered the opportunity to conduct research under a GT faculty member at the time of the J-1 DS-2019 request then it is best that the spouse apply for their own J-1 status. It is not appropriate for the J-2 to apply for an EAD immediately upon arriving to the U.S. to pursue the work with a GT professor if those plans were in place before requesting the J-2 DS-2019. The purpose of a J-2 visa is to accompany a J-1 Exchange Visitor. If the J-2 had other plans to pursue or participate in their own research or academic program then it is best that they finalize those plans and apply for a J-1 visa. Not being forthright about short term and long term intent during a visa interview creates problems when the U.S. Consulate determines the J-2 visa application was misguided.

J-1 Student Interns-

Student Intern Overview: Internship programs can be offered to graduate students and undergraduate students whose U.S. internship/practical field experience will fulfill educational objectives for his or her current degree program at his or her home institution. Review the J Student Intern decision tree to consider if this is the right category for the visitor. Internship programs provide unique opportunities for interns to gain practical experience while conducting research in their academic field. The Intern program is a structured work-based learning program that:

  • Reinforces an intern's academic study
  • Exposes the intern to American techniques, methodologies, and expertise and expands their knowledge and skills
  • Enhances the intern's knowledge of American culture and society.

Requesting a J-1 Student Intern at Georgia Tech:

  1. International student will identify a full time GT faculty sponsor (adjunct faculty are not eligible) to supervise their internship at GT. The faculty sponsor will identify the program is suitable to the exchange visitor's background, needs, and experience; and exchange visitor possesses sufficient proficiency in the English language to participate in his or her program and function independently in the community.
  2. Faculty sponsor will work with their designated HR administrator to submit a request for J-1 Student Intern Request under the Department Services forms in iStart.gatech.edu.
  3. J Intern Application forms (applicant and sponsoring department) will include information necessary to determine the eligibility of the foreign student, the conditions and suitability of the program, financial support from the department or personal funds, and other details needed to properly issue the DS-2019.
  4. The Office of International Education will create the DS-2019 and DS-7002 which will be signed by the OIE (RO or ARO) will be distributed to the GT academic sponsor (HR admin.), the home institution administrator/faculty and the International student Intern.

FAQ's:

I am unsure what is the appropriate visa for a prospective visitor, what do I do?

Both the Office of International Education and the Office of Global Human Resources support non-U.S. Citizen GT affiliates and employees with immigration and visas. The type of visa is determined by the primary purpose of the visit/activity the individual will take part in during their stay in the U.S., the length of the activity and the type of funding or payment the individual will receive. Each academic school has an administrator with iStart access who can submit the Visa Type Questionnaire e-form to inform the OIE and GHR of the visit and allow us to assist the department to identify the visa options.

How do I request a DS-2019 for someone who will not be enrolled as a student at GT?

Requests for the form DS-2019 for an individual to participate in full-time research, teaching, student internship or other similar academic activity come to the Office of International Education through the HR administrator for an academic department that has agreed to host the individual and has completed the steps to invite the scholar.

Prospective scholars who wish to visit Georgia Tech as a J Exchange Visitor, must first identify a faculty sponsor within a specific academic program with your research interest. The faculty sponsor will be responsible for notifying the school's hiring manager to begin the process to request the DS-2019 for the appropriate J-1 program on the Exchange Visitor's behalf.

I am a GT faculty member and would like to invite a scholar to GT as a J-1 visa holder, what do I do?

Please make contact with the HR administrator in your unit who is trained to make requests through iStart. Please contact the HR Administrator in your school and they will help you identify the right person to assist you or email jscholars@oie.gatech.edu.

What is iStart?

iStart is a comprehensive data system for case management and compliance with SEVIS issues. It is the portal for F and J visa holders and HR administrators at Georgia Tech to make requests to the OIE related to immigration records. HR administrators in each school will use iStart create the Eligibility of Certificate for the J-1 called a DS-2019. It is also the system used for case management once the J-1 is in the US.  Administrators who need access to iStart should visit the iStart administrator access tutorial.

I am from an academic school and I need access to iStart in order to request a DS-2019 for an incoming J-1 scholar, what do I do?

Human Resources Administrators within the academic units who will make requests with GHR or OIE for immigration documentation must complete basic iStart training. Visit the iStart administrator access tutorial.

I have been trained in iStart and am having technical difficulties, what do I do?

Please contact the Office of International Education at 404-894-7475 or jscholars@oie.gatech.edu and briefly describe the problem that you are having. Including a screen shot will aid in the ability of OIE to assist you to resolve the issue.

Where can I find out more information about the Eligibility for a DS-2019 including English Language Proficiency requirements?

All scholars must submit evidence of English Language proficiency per 22 CFR 62.10(a)(2). At Georgia Tech, prospective scholars and professors must identify a High Beginner level proficiency or greater and Student Interns must have an intermediate level or greater to be eligible to participate a program at Georgia Tech. The GT Language Proficiency Policy outlines the specific documentation that must be submitted in addition to offering a rubric describing the proficiency levels that was developed in partnership with the GT Language Institute.