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Invitation Letters for J-1 Visiting Scholars

General Information
Invitation letters to J-1 Scholars and Student Interns may be written at the department level and sent to the potential J-1 Scholar/Student Intern in advance of submitting the ISS Request Form.   Please note that writing invitation letters for international visitors whose visa will not be sponsored by VT follows a different procedure and these such invitation letters must be issued by ISS.  For more information on invitation letters for international visitors whose visa is not sponsored by VT, please visit the page on international visitors.
The invitation letter to the potential J-1 Scholar/Student Intern is important both for the J-1 visitor and to ISS.  The J-1 visitor may need the invitation letter to obtain funding and to present at the visa interview and ISS needs to see a copy of the invitation letter to know more specifically the purpose of the visit and possible long term plans which might affect the visitor’s immigration status in the future.  The letter can include as much information as the department or faculty host wishes to include.  However, certain information is required.

Required Information:

  1. VT Host Department, the visitor’s Visiting Scholar status at VT, and dates of visit.  For example:
    1. It is my pleasure to invite you to visit the Department of Materials Science and Engineering as a Visiting Scholar for the period June 1, 2011 – May 31, 2012.
  2. Purpose of the visit and/or what the visitor will be doing.  For example:
    1. The purpose of your visit is to collaborate with Dr. Smith on research in the area of Quantum Physics.
    2. You will be conducting research in the area of Ferroelectrics and Piezoelectrics.
    3. You will be teaching a course in Electrical Engineering entitled “XYZ.”
  3. Funding information.  If VT will contribute funding, indicate amount and length of time.  Other funding sources may be included (optional) and for these it is not necessary to indicate an amount.  For example:
    1. Virginia Tech will pay you an annual salary of $36,000 which will include health benefits.
    2. You will receive funding in the amount of $1400/month from Virginia Tech during your 6 month visit.
    3. I understand you have received a scholarship from the China Scholarship Council to fund your visit.  Proof of this funding is required before we can process your DS-2019.
    4. I understand XYZ University will fund your visit in the amount of $1200/month for 12 months.  The Department of Chemistry will supplement this amount with an additional $400/month for 12 months.
    5. I understand you will use personal funds to cover all the expenses of your visit.

Optional Information:

Oftentimes, invitation letters also address expectations the scholar might have or include “disclaimers” so that the scholar doesn’t expect one thing and get another when s/he arrives.  Including information of this sort is optional, but departments are encouraged to include any information that may be helpful.

  1. Resources available to the visitor (computer, office space, internet access, lab space, etc.).  For example:
    1. Though we cannot at this time guarantee any office space for you, you will have a workspace in the XYZ Lab.  Also, we cannot provide a computer for you, but we can provide you with internet access if you bring your own machine.
  2. The possibility of renewal if the visitor does well and there is continued funding. For example:
    1. This appointment is renewable based on availability of funds and satisfactory performance.
  3. Prospects of future collaboration, goals the VT host person hopes to meet, etc.  For example:
    1. It is my hope that at the end of your time here we will have finished the book chapter we began writing together during my visit to your university last month.
  4. Information about Blacksburg and arrival information i.e. flying into Roanoke, transportation to VT, etc.
  5. Information about arrival procedures.  For example:
    1. Please complete the online check in process within 5 days of your arrival to Virginia Tech.  Upon your arrival you should also have your immigration documents copied at 123 XYZ Hall and complete an I-9 form because you will be paid by Virginia Tech
  6. Acknowledgement that visitor’s family will accompany him/her.  For example:
    1. I would like to welcome your family to Blacksburg also, as I understand your wife and son will accompany you (or, will join you at a later time).
  7. Information about housing in Blacksburg, resources available to the visitor, etc.