Visiting Scholars & Visiting Student Researchers

Visiting Scholar or Visiting Student Researcher
Procedures and Policies
English Department, UC Berkeley


We welcome your interest in becoming a visting scholar/visiting student researcher with our department! As you are considering this opportunity please read below for the basic procedure to apply. 


1.     You will need to contact a faculty member of the English Department to see if they will serve as your faculty sponsor during your stay.  You can do this by checking the faculty directory on our website for contact information.  Please do not spam the entire department. Please send an introductory letter, brief research proposal, and CV to the faculty member you would like to sponsor you.  Note: the English Department cannot provide any funding (airfare, housing, etc.) or office space, but the faculty sponsor will offer guidance and advice.   

2.    Once you have a faculty mentor, send an email to John McChesney-Young ( with the name of your faculty sponsor and the start and end dates of your time in Berkeley.  These dates can be approximate, but we will need to know month, date, and year. 

3. John will send your request to Berkeley Regional Services (BRS).  BRS will then contact you directly about all required documents:  the biographical page of your passport, proof of funding requirements for your stay in Berkeley, and proof of English language proficiency (e.g. a TOEFL score or a letter from your home institution or Berkeley mentor).  After they have obtained the three documents, BRS will send you a DS-2019 that you will need to obtain your J-1 visa (if needed).  This process can take up to 10 business days from the time the International Office receives the documents from BRS.  Once you receive the DS-2019, make an appointment with the U.S. Embassy in your country to obtain the J-1 visa.

4.  There are 3 basic fees.

a) The visa-processing fee is $500, which you can either pay back to the English department when you arrive in Berkeley or send before hand via a banker's demand draft.  If you would like to pay ahead of time, please contact the Administrative Officer for more information.  (Most scholars pay when they arrive).

b) There is an additional University services fee that you'll need to pay online by credit card upon arrival at UC Berkeley. The fee is different if you are a vsiting scholar or a visting student researcher. This fee allows you various privileges as a visiting scholar such as a Cal1 ID card (which also serves as a library card), a Berkeley e-mail address, access to the RSF gym, and discounts on public transportation.  Unfortunately, this fee is not prorated based on length of stay. Please also note the fee increases if you plan to extend your stay for another year. 

c) All visitors are required to have health insurance coverage.  If you do not have health insurance outside of your country, you must purchase health insurance here.  Click here for more information, including premiums.

5.   Housing.  You may wish to sign up for Cal Rentals that has a comprehensive list of available rentals.  There is a small fee for this service.  Please be aware that rents are very expensive in the Bay Area.

6.  When you arrive in Berkeley, the Berkeley Regional Services on-boarding team will arrange a meeting to complete arrival documentation as well as to examine your passport/visa and DS-2019.  You will also need to meet with John McChesney-Young in 322 Wheeler Hall to pay the visa processing fee (if it was not paid ahead of time).  We are open from 10am-12pm and 1pm-4pm, Monday through Friday.  Please contact him to set up an appointment. The fee must be paid in exact cash or via a check made out to UC Regents.  

Some other items to note:

  • The whole process –until you have your visa in hand –can take up to 4 months.  Start early.
  • Do not make a visa appointment until you have your DS 2019 in hand.
  • You can find more information regarding the J-1 visa here and more information regarding the visiting scholar program at UC Berkeley here
  • You must attend a mandatory Scholar Information Meeting (SIM) within two weeks of arrival.
  • With Instructor approval, visiting scholars can audit courses.  No course credits will be awarded. Scholars should not audit more than one course per semester. Please remember your primary purpose here is for your own independent research. 

Please feel free to contact John McChesney-Young ( if you have any questions regarding this process.