Overview of Visa Categories

Overview of Visa Categories

Please review the visa category before initiating a request with the International Programs Office. The visa categories listed here are classifications the University of Massachusetts Amherst International Programs Office will be actively involved in initiating and assisting the international employees/visitors and hosting departments in obtaining.

Host Department's Responsibilities

Please make sure to communicate with the hosting professor regarding any scholar’s request for sponsorship/extension/transfer. All requests need to be confirmed and vetting by the hosting department before sponsorship or changes can be made by the IPO.

The university sponsors visas for admitted matriculating students and full-time academic positions such as faculty, researchers, and employees (who are at least 18 years old) as well as Visiting appointments. The university sponsors employment-based immigrant visas (green cards) for select, permanent positions as outlined in our materials. Any use of legal counsel (lawyers) for immigration matters must first be approved by IPO.

Hosting international faculty, staff or visitors in your department comes with the normal university protocols for any new hire/appointment. IPO is charged with keeping records for all non-citizens and non-permanent residents who hold academic or visiting appointments, regardless of their visa status. Please make sure to create a UMass VIP record for any new or potential international employee/visitor as soon as possible in the process. Currently UMass VIP is required for only J-1 sponsorship requests. 

The international visitor's ability to work and live in the U.S. legally is dependent on “maintaining legal status.” After the scholar arrives at UMass Amherst, IPO works with both the scholar and the host department to monitor the visa status by sending alerts. Alerts related to issues such as the expiration of an employee/visitor’s visa is sent to both the scholars, and the designates department contact. It is the department's responsibility to respond to these alerts by telling IPO that the scholar is leaving UMass Amherst, or to request a visa extension by submitting the required information.

In addition, with international scholars there are at least four responsible parties engaged in visa sponsorship:

  • IPO

  • The scholar

  • The faculty member appointing/inviting the scholar

  • The administrator supporting the faculty member/department

Although there may be several different department members helping a faculty member with international scholars, IPO normally refers to a department administrator as one who is a registered UMass VIP user and has the authority to speak for the department regarding the funding, the appointment and terms of employment. In this visa sponsorship partnership, IPO relies on the department administrator to communicate with IPO issues of importance (and in some cases Federal law) including:

  • Ensuring the scholar has received information about the terms of the appointment prior to arrival in Amherst 

  • Monitoring scholars' arrival dates and informing the IPO of possible delays

  • Notifying IPO if the scholar decides not to come at all

  • After the scholar has arrived, reporting to IPO any change to the UMass Amherst appointment including funding, title, location, and contact information

  • Any concerns about the scholar’s health, wellness, and functionality in the UMass Amherst community

  • Notifying IPO if a scholar leaves before the end of the visa document

Please look at appointment titles that are acceptable and not acceptable for each visa category, as certain immigration categories may or may not work for each scholar. Please see the examples below for J-1.

J-1 Acceptable UMass Titles

J-1 Not Acceptable UMass Titles

Visiting Scholar

TT: Assistant, Associate, Professor

Visiting Scientist

Any Staff Position, i.e. Lab Technician, Librarian

Visiting Lecturer


Visiting Undergraduate Student


Visiting: Assistant, Associate or Professor


(Senior) Research Fellow


Research: Assistant, Associate or Professor


Postdoctoral Research Associate




Research Assistant


Appointments and visits regarding classifications not listed here please see Non-UMass Amherst Sponsorship.

Please contact the International Programs Office if further clarification is needed.