We provide services to our international students, postdoctoral scholars, staff and visitors, including information regarding eligibility for immigration sponsorship by SBP, pre-arrival information to assist with adjusting to life in the U.S. as well as up-to-date information on how to maintain immigration status while at SBP. Our office also advises the Institute’s faculty and staff on the appropriate visa status for researchers they wish to sponsor.
Visas and Pre-Arrival Information
When the immigration documents needed for the visa application and entry to the U.S. are sent to the incoming scholar/visitor, they will include an International Student/Scholar Handbook, which includes specific pre-arrival information on applying for a visa and entering the U.S. as well as information to assist with settling into life in the U.S.
Arriving in the U.S. and Checking in at SBP
On arriving into the U.S., an international scholar/visitor will need to attend a new hire check-in/orientation with the SBP Human Resources Office, located in Building 1.
After meeting with Human Resources, the international scholar/visitor will then check-in and attend a visa orientation with International Services Staff. To maintain immigration status, all international scholars/visitors are required to check-in with SBP International Services and receive a visa orientation when they arrive at the Institute. *It is important to comply with this requirement as failure to do may impact immigration status and ability to remain in the U.S.
During the visa orientation, an International Services Staff member will validate the international scholar/visitor’s arrival, review their immigration documents and important information about maintaining immigration status while in the U.S. We will also provide information about applying for a Social Security Number and Driver’s License if needed.
All international scholars/visitors should bring the following documents with them to their visa orientation:
- A valid Passport
- Form DS-2019 (for J-1 Scholar)
- Form I-20 (for F-1 Student)
- Form I-94, Arrival and Departure record
- Form I-797, Approval Notice (if applicable)
- Proof of Health Insurance coverage (for J-1 Research Scholar)
- Dependent(s) documents (if applicable)
- Valid Passport
- Form DS-2019 (for J-2)
- Form I-20 (for F-2)
- Form 1-94, Arrival and Departure record
If you have any questions about the check-in process, please contact International Services.
Maintaining Your Immigration Status in the U.S.
International visitors to the U.S. must maintain their immigration status at all times while in the country, whether they have entered the U.S. in a short-stay business category (WB or B1 status), as a student (F-1 status), as a J-1 Exchange Visitor (J-1 status), or for temporary employment (H-1B or TN status). In all categories a person should maintain a valid passport at all times while in the U.S.
Additionally, as each visa category has different requirements for maintaining immigration status while in the U.S., it important that the international scholar/visitor be aware of the criteria that applies to their individual immigration status.
A person eligible to enter the U.S. in WB Visa Wavier status or B-1 status may be admitted into the U.S. for a specific period of time and a specific activity. For a person in WB status or a B-1 status, a U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) Officer will stamp the admitted until date in their passport and an electronic I-94 Arrival/Departure record will be issued. To maintain immigration status in WB status a person must depart in the U.S. on or before the date specified; in B-1 status, a person must either depart the U.S. by the date specified on their I-94 record or have applied to USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and immigration Services) to extend/or change their nonimmgratnt status before that date.
A person entering the U.S. in F-1 student status may be admitted to pursue a full course of study at an approved academic institution in the U.S. F-1 students are admitted for the length of their academic program and any period of post completion work authorization. When entering the country, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer will admit the student in F-1 status for “Duration of Status” which is noted as “D/S” on the Form I-20 and an electronic I-94 Arrival/Departure record will be issued. When the student completes their academic program and any period of post completion work authorization, the student is allowed a 60 day grace period to depart the U.S.
J-1 Exchange Visitor (J-1 Short-Term Scholar and J-1 Research Scholar)
A person entering the U.S. under the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program in J-1 Short-Term status may be admitted to pursue full-time research for up to 6 months; a person entering the U.S. in J-1 Research Scholar status may be admitted to pursue full-time research for up to 5 years. When entering the country, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer will admit the J-1 Exchange Visitor in J-1 status for “Duration of Status” which is noted on their passport and an electronic I-94 Arrival/Departure record will be issued. When the person completes their J-1 Exchange Visitor Program they are allowed a 30 day grace period to depart the U.S.
A person entering the U.S. in H-1B employment status may be admitted for the length of their H-1B I-797 Approval Notice. H-1B status may be valid for up to 3 years and renewed for an additional 3 years at the employer’s request. When entering the country, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer may admit the H-1B employee until the end date listed on their H-1B I-797 Approval Notice and note this date on the person I-94 Arrival/Departure record. At the end of a person’s H-1B employment, H-1B status may allow a10 day grace period to depart the U.S. *When entering the U.S. in H-1B status a CBP Officer may at their discretion note a 10 day “grace period” for departure on the H-1B employee’s I-94 Arrival and Departure record. This applies only if the person completes the full duration of their H-1B employment. This 10 day grace period is to prepare to depart the U.S.; during this time the H-1B employee is not authorized to continue working.
A Canadian or Mexican citizen entering the U.S. in TN status, may be admitted into the U.S. for a specific period of time. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer will stamp the admitted until date in their passport and an electronic I-94 Arrival/Departure record will be issued when they are admitted. A person in TN status may initially be admitted for up to 3 years. TN status can be renewed indefinitely as long as the person maintains their employment and nonimmigrant intent in the U.S. To maintain nonimmigrant status, a person in TN status must maintain full-time employment with their TN employer and depart the U.S. on or before the date specified, or have applied to USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) to extend/or change their nonimmigrant status before that date.
If there are any questions about maintaining immigration status at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute and while in the U.S., please contact SBP International Services.
Travel and Re-entry to the U.S.
The International scholar/visitor should check that their immigration documents are valid prior to travel and that they will be valid upon entry to the U.S. Please note that a person’s passport should be valid at least 6 months in the future from the date they plan to re-enter the U.S. If it is valid less than 6 months the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (SBP) Officer at the port-of-entry may at their discretion limit a person’s stay in the U.S. to the expiration date of their passport.
If there are any questions about traveling in or outside of the U.S. and the documents required while sponsored by the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, please contact SBP International Services.
Information contained on the International Services website is for the use of the SBP community and should not be used as the sole source of information for making decisions that my affect one’s legal status in the U.S.