Sponsorship Policies

Sponsorship Policies

This information is provided for administrators at UMass Amherst. Please read below.

The International Programs Office (IPO) must comply with federal regulations regarding the employment of foreign nationals (non-United States citizens and non-permanent residents). It is important to ensure that each foreign national employed or on academic appointment at UMass Amherst, either paid or unpaid, has an immigration status that permits the affiliation or has been granted appropriate permission by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

  1. Each UMass Amherst Department/Laboratory/Center has a primary liaison, typically the Grants Coordinator or Administrative Officer, through whom all requests to appoint/invite a foreign national must be channeled. 
    This department contact is familiar with the UMass Amherst personnel appointment system, IPO procedures and non-immigrant visa types and can be very helpful to faculty. This person will act as the liaison between the IPO and the faculty member inviting a foreign national to teach or conduct research at the University.

  2. Role of the International Programs Office
    The IPO has been designated by the University to handle applications and information regarding visas for foreign national staff. The IPO is UMass Amherst’s liaison with immigration authorities regarding this population as well as our international student body. The IPO is authorized by the Department of State to offer J-1 visa sponsorship in certain specific categories. The IPO is the only authorized petitioner to USCIS for H-1B, E-3, TN, and O-1 visas.  Permanent Residency applications based on UMass Amherst employment are filed by authorized outside legal counsel in coordination with the IPO and the Office of General Counsel.

Please Note: UMass Amherst does not provide visa sponsorship for technical, administrative, temporary, or non-specialized positions.

Administrator FAQ:

ISS Critical Updates

Travel Restrictions

Scholars should be aware of the current travel restrictions currently active:

  • Schengen Transit Exception: J Visa Exception for academics in Research Scholar, Short Term Scholar, Professor, Student and Specialist category for traveling directly from and transiting through the Schengen Countries will require a National Interest Exemption. Scholars are urged to reach out to their consulates and airlines regarding how to obtain this before travel. Please see the announcement from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), we recommend you print this for travel.  
  • Traveling to a third country and then flying to the US as a way to avoid the COVID travel ban: Note that the Department of Homeland Security has access to airline manifests and other information that may reveal your prior travel. People attempting to enter the US after spending 14 days in a third country have been denied entry to the US.
  • Canadian and Mexican Travel Ban: Until September 9, 2021, travel through Canada land borders are still restricted to essential personnel only.  

Students and scholars currently outside of the U.S. may be subject to various travel restrictions that make returning to or arriving in the U.S. difficult at this time. Please read below for more information:

Routine Visa Issuance Resuming on a Country by Country Basis

As of April 1, 2021, some U.S. Embassies and Consulates have started to resume routine visa services depending on the in-country situation. Please note that different embassies and consulates have different policies and procedures in place about reopening, and they are facing severe backlogs of applications that have accrued during their closures. All incoming students and scholars currently outside of the U.S. require a visa stamp issued by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country in order to enter the U.S. with, except for Canadian citizens. For specific information, please go to the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country.

Presidential Proclamations Suspending Travel        

As of February 19, 2021, individuals from the countries listed on the CDC website may be suspended or limited to entering the United States:

  • China
  • Iran
  • European Schengen area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City)
  • United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Brazil

This suspension also applies to individuals traveling or connecting through one of these countries.

Q: To whom does the University provide visa sponsorship?

A: Generally speaking, the University provides visa sponsorship for those individuals with temporary academic appointments at University departments, such as postdoctoral researchers and faculty members.

Q: Who is responsible to vet the funding?

A: As a department administrator, it is your responsibility to verify the validity of funding for incoming scholars. If it is personal funding, you may want to require evidence such as a bank statement to verify that the amount of funding exists and is available for the scholar to use at UMass Amherst. Please keep in mind that the only 10% of the funding for a J-1 can be personal funds and 0% for an H-1B.

Q. Are there any educational requirements for scholars?

A: In general, scholars must have at minimum a bachelor’s degree to qualify for visa sponsorship. If you are interested in bringing on an enrolled student in a bachelor’s degree program overseas, they will be required to be in the J-1 Short Term Scholar category with visits no more than 6 months and require the department to complete the Hosting an Undergraduate Visitor form

Q: When do we need to notify the IPO about an incoming scholar?

A: For a J-1 visa, we require 60 days notice before a scholar's start date. For an H-1B visa it takes up to 6 months due to the government agency’s processing time.

Q: Who monitors the arrival dates of scholars?

A: It is your responsibility to communicate with incoming scholars to notify you if they will arrive later than the start date listed on the DS-2019. J-1 scholar must enter the U.S. within 30 days of the start date listed on the Form DS-2019. It is also your responsibility to notify the IPO as soon as you know because the IPO may need to amend the DS-2019 and/or reissue the DS-2019. All amendments have to be authorized by the hosting department. 

Q: What do I do if the scholar decides not to come to the University at all?

A: You must notify the IPO immediately so we can notify the government.

Q: Once scholars arrive in my department, when should I send them to the IPO to register?

A: Currently in person validations are not allowable. Please have the scholar reach out to our office to set up their virtual orientation and validation.

Q: What type of things about a scholar do I/the scholar need to notify the IPO?

A: You must notify the IPO when:

  • A scholar leaves the University earlier than the date on their DS-2019 or I-797.

  • The PI wants to extend the appointment beyond the date on the DS-2019 or I-797.

  • A scholars funding amount and/or source(s) change with the exception of annual cost of living increases.

  • A scholar’s title or job description changes while on the H-1B visa.

  • A scholar works in more than one location in or out of the University.

  • A scholar’s job changes from full time to part time.

Q: Can I or a scholar use immigration attorneys to submit employment-based immigration petitions (e.g. H-1B, O-1 or green card)?

A: No. The IPO advising staff has the authority and responsibility to submit all employment-based petitions sponsored by UMass Amherst and is the only entity authorized to sign immigration petitions on behalf of the University. However, scholars may use immigration attorneys to file for green cards based on their own credentials and not based on their employment at UMass Amherst. Department administrators and/or PIs should not sign any green card related forms presented by immigration attorneys.