Incoming Scholar Appointment Process


(Visiting Scholars, Postdocs, & J-1 Student Interns)


In order to initiate the process, the PI must notify the Visa Coordinator via email ( 6 months prior to the anticipated arrival date. Please note that the process of obtaining a DS-2019 form for international scholars averages 4 months. This does not include issuance of a visa from the candidate’s home country, which in some cases may require an additional 2 months. 

ALL of the following information must come directly from the incoming scholar.

  • Scholar Information
    • Full name of scholar
  • Scholar’s email address
  • Whether or not the scholar is a U.S. citizen
  • Copy of most recent CV
  • Copy of biographical data page of the scholar’s passport for non-citizens.

After ALL of the information mentioned above is provided from the incoming scholar, the PI will need to prove the following information on this form:

  • Appointment Information
    • Position title (Please refer to the “Position Title Categories” section below for descriptions for each possible position title.)
  • Expected start date AND end date of appointment
  • Brief description of expected responsibilities, objectives, duties, etc. (1-2 sentences)
  • Expected source of funding support
    • Please refer to the “Funding Information” section for more information on acceptable funding sources and minimum funding level requirements


Once the information above has been submitted, the Visa Coordinator will take the following steps:


Part I—Applies to both U.S. Citizens and Non-Citizens (up to 4 weeks processing):

  • Review information provided by the PI—follow-up if not all information was given, or if clarification is needed.
  • Review scholar’s CV to confirm that the suggested position title and stipend level fits with the scholar’s education and experience.
  • If the scholar is not a U.S. citizen, the Visa Coordinator will contact the scholar directly for Confirmation of current immigration status—Ask for documentation if needed.
  • If scholar is planning to enter the U.S. on a J Visa, they may be asked to participate in an English Language Proficiency Evaluation.
  • Based on position title, confirm funding sources and amounts via proper documentation from the scholar and/or PI.
  • Once ALL requested information from both the PI and the scholar are confirmed, the offer letter will then be drafted.
  • Offer letter will be emailed to the PI read and confirm its accuracy.
  • Offer letter will be reviewed by the office of the SAS Dean for School approval. Please be aware that it can take up to 4-6 weeks to receive the initial decision as to whether or not an appointment is approved.  Processing times can be delayed if the Dean asks for additional information regarding the appointment, or if the appointment is initially rejected.
  • Offer letter will be reviewed and signed by the Executive Director.
  • Once Executive Director signed the offer letter, the PI is expected to email the letter to the scholar for them to sign and return.


Part II—ONLY Applies to Non-Citizens entering the U.S. on a J Visa (up to 4-6 weeks processing):

  • For J-1 Student Interns ONLY—Visa Coordinator will contact PI regarding information for the Student Intern Placement Agreement (SIPA). 
  • Start DS-2019 application in iPenn
    • Form 1—Completed by Visa Coordinator
    • Form 2—Completed by Scholar
    • Form 3—Completed by Visa Coordinator
    • Form 4—Completed by Visa Coordinator and Business Office
  • Submit completed DS-2019 application to ISSS
    • ISSS can take up to 4-6 weeks to process and issue the DS-2019.

Please note that the Department of Chemistry can not assist with applying to obtain a J Visa directly with a scholar or intern's local U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. We can only assist in obtaining the DS-2019 and/or the DS-7002, which are documents required for J Visa application. If you have any questions regarding the J Visa application process, please contact your local U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. We can only respond to questions regarding the DS-2019 and DS-7002.





Postdoctoral Associate

Visiting Scholar


Visiting scholars are appointed to conduct research, observe, or consult in connection with a research project to further training for a limited period of time.



  • Must hold at least a Bachelor’s degree.
  • If the scholar has already obtained a PhD, the scholar must provide official documentation that they currently hold a position at his/her home institution to which they could return to at the end of the Visiting Scholar appointment.
  • Cannot be used for tenure-track faculty positions, regular faculty or support positions, administrative positions, or staff positions.

Postdoctoral Trainee (Researcher or Fellow)


Postdoctoral trainees come to the University for further training in their chosen discipline. The postdoctoral trainees receive training conducted in an apprenticeship mode under the supervision of an established faculty member who serves as a mentor.


The designation of Postdoctoral Researcher or Fellow is based upon funding source.

  • Postdoctoral Researcher—supported from a research grant
  • Postdoctoral Fellow—Supported by a private foundation, non-profit charitable organization, or other source 


  • Must hold at least an advanced degree the same or equivalent to a PhD.
  • Cannot be used for tenure-track faculty positions, regular faculty or support positions, administrative positions, or staff positions. 

 For more information regarding Postdoctoral Trainees, please click here to review the Policy for Postdoctoral Trainees at the University of Pennsylvania.



J-1 Student Intern


The J-1 Student Intern Program provides an J-1 visa international student with an opportunity to pursue a structured internship program in his or her academic field. The student's internship is meant to fulfill the educational objectives for a current bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree program at his or her home institution abroad.



  • Must be currently enrolled and pursuing a degree (e.g. bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate) at an accredited post-secondary academic institution outside the U.S.
  • The J-1 Student Intern category is not available to those who have graduated.
  • Must be in good academic standing with the post-secondary academic institution at which s/he current is enrolled.
  • Must return to his/her home institution outside the U.S. after the internship.
  • The prospective J-1 Student Intern has been accepted into an approved student internship program at Penn, rather than to engage in employment or provide services to Penn.
  • May participate in a student internship program for up to 12 months for each degree level.  Extensions beyond 12 months are not possible.
  • The internship must be full time—a minimum of 32 hours per week.
  • The J-1 Student Intern activities must occur only on the Penn premises (i.e. Penn's Philadelphia campus and 12 schools only).
  • The PI should have plans in place for the J-1 Student Intern to participate in American cultural activities as required by the Department of State.

Distinction between J-1 Student Internship & Regular Employment:


The internship:

  • Cannot serve to fill a labor need.
  • Must exist solely to assist the Student Intern in achieving the objectives.
  • Must consist of work-based learning, rather than ordinary employment or unskilled labor.
  • Cannot displace American workers, including full or part-time, temporary or permanent.
  • Must meet all requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act.
  • Must not involve in any way a staffing/employment agency.



  • Scholar cannot begin position until EAD card is in hand.
  • Scholar can be an unpaid Visiting Scholar if they provide proof of financial support.
  • Scholar will need to show healthcare or PI will need to purchase healthcare for scholar.
  • PI will be responsible for completing Scholar training information and/or reports for STEM OPT application (i983 forms).




Funding Requirements


Funding for Visiting Scholars and J-1 Student Interns (applies to ONLY J-1 visa holders)

  • A minimum of $27,180 USD per year ($2,265 USD/month) will be required.
  • An additional $6,000/year ($500/month) is required for an accompanying spouse and an additional $4,000/year ($334/month) for each accompanying child.


Funding for Postdoctoral Trainees (applies to both U.S. citizens and non-citizens)

  • Postdoctoral Trainees must be paid according to the most recent the current National Research Service Awards stipend levels, which may be found here.


Funding Sources


Funding Source Requirements

  • Documents must not be older than 1 year at the time of the DS-2019 application.
  • Documents must be written in English.  If this is not possible, then a notarized English translation is required.  An unofficial English translation will not be accepted.
  • Funds must be liquid.  This means that they can quickly and easily be converted to cash, such as checking or savings accounts without withdrawal prohibitions.
  • Examples of funds that ARE NOT liquid include:
    • An assessment of the value of your assets (home, car, property, jewelry)
  • Proof of employment or salary 
  • A report on your stock and investment portfolio
  • Pension or retirement plan
  • Bank Statements:
  • Online printouts should include account holder's name, account type, and bank name.
  • Highly recommended: You have an official bank statement for your visa interview.
  • Bank Letters:
  • It is preferred your bank letter is in English.  If not possible, you must include a notarized English translation. 


Acceptable Funding Sources

  • Personal Funds:
    • Saving or Checking bank account in your name
  • School Funding:
    • Fellowship, Scholarship, Assistantship or Grant money awarded to you by Penn or your home institution
  • Other Funding:
    • Scholarship or grant from a non-Penn source (example: home government, current employer or private organization)
      • Sponsor letter should be on official letterhead
  • Bank account in your mother's or father's name
  • If a person other than your mother or father is supporting all or a portion of your study, please include an affidavit of support letter.