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Becoming a Visiting Student Researcher

Faculty affiliated with CEAS are sometimes asked to supervise the research of visitors who may not be appointed as Visiting Scholars under current Stanford policy. The qualifications for appointment as a Visiting Scholar state that a person must hold a Ph.D. (or its equivalent from a country other than the United States) or be a recognized expert in the field. There are a limited number of instances, however, when it would be to the benefit of Stanford faculty to permit graduate students who have not yet attained the Ph.D. to engage in research on the Stanford campus using Stanford research facilities. Such instances might include students at other universities who are engaged in research at the doctoral level and who are doing research in a field of interest to a Stanford faculty member, or a student who is doing a laboratory rotation as part of a larger research study or grant.

When agreeing to invite such graduate students to conduct research at Stanford, CEAS faculty is mindful of the need to place primary emphasis on providing research opportunities to regularly matriculated Stanford students. In general, faculty should only sponsor Visiting Student Researchers when there is a clear and beneficial existing relationship.  In addition, 
invited students must be qualified to conduct research at a level comparable to that of other Stanford graduate students, and the research must be of benefit to Stanford as well as the visitor. Visiting graduate students must work VERY INDEPENDENTLY at CEAS in order to be successful.

Enrollment Status

Any visiting graduate student who will be participating in research at Stanford for more than 30 days must be appointed into non-matriculated student status as a Visiting Student Researcher. Students may be classified as Visiting Student Researchers if they are here fewer than 30 days, at the discretion of CEAS. (No SUnet ID can be sponsored until the VSR appointment has been approved and processed by the Office of the University Registrar.)  

Visiting Student Researchers will be registered in the category: "Non-Matriculated Graduate Students - Visiting Student Researchers" (VSR). Persons registered in the VSR category are not permitted to enroll in any classes. If Visiting Student Researchers wish to take classes at Stanford, they should contact the Graduate Admissions, Office of the University Registrar, and request an application for nonmatriculated graduate student enrollment status. A complete application, including letters of recommendation, official transcripts and applicable test scores, would be required by the nonmatriculated application deadline set by Graduate Admissions, Office of the Registrar. Nonmatriculated students must register for a minimum of eight units and are charged the regular tuition rate.

Visiting Student Researchers from other U.S. universities who have educational loans cannot be certified by Stanford for loan deferments because they are neither matriculated at Stanford nor are they carrying a full-time course load. If the researcher is still matriculated at another university in the United States, s/he should contact their home institution regarding eligibility for loan deferments.

VSR status is valid for up to one year. The status may be extended once for an additional year.

Visiting Student Researcher Fees & Privileges


If duration of stay is greater than 90 days, Visiting Student Researchers will receive an ID card according them library privileges at the University libraries and sports privileges at the University's sports facilities, and may apply for a full-service University email account. Health benefits are not provided. Spouses do not have library or other privileges, though individual arrangements can on occasion be made for access to sports facilities. Limited shared office space is available on a first-come first-served basis. We cannot guarantee that scholars will have office space during their visit. CEAS is unable to provide computers for visitors. It is recommended that visitors who need regular access to a computer for writing or research bring one with them or buy one here.

Mandatory Fees

VSRs are subject to the following fees: 

  • monthly VSR fee (see VSR Fees for current rates). Stanford does not waive or prorate the fee; the student is responsible for the full amount.
  • quarterly Campus Health Services Fee  (see Campus Health Service Fee for current rates).
  • quarterly departmental visiting student researcher fee of $500 per quarter.  This fee is assessed by CEAS regardless of how long in each quarter VSRs are in residence, and the fees for the entire intended duration of stay are due in full at the arrival orientation. 

In addition, Stanford university mandates a minimum level of funding necessary for living expenses, currently $2,500 per month for the scholar, plus $600 per month for a spouse, and $300 per month for each dependent child.  Information on all current fees anf funding requirements may be found at: Funding Requirements for J-1 Scholars

Additional Possible Fees

All VSRs are required to maintain health insurance equivalent in coverage to the standard Cardinal Care offered by Vaden Health Services.  VSRs who do not have existing comparable health care will be required to purchase Quarterly Health Insurance at the standard rate.  More information about standard coverage and waiving coverage through Stanford may be found at: Vaden Health Insurance

Visa Application Process & Fees

Foreign scholars not already affiliated with a U.S institution will need to apply for a J-1 visa to enter the U.S. as a Visiting Student Researcher. CEAS staff will help guide scholars through the application process. This process, from initial contact to receipt of the visa can take up to six months. Prospective visitors are encouraged to begin planning for their visit early. There are two types of J-1 visas:

  •  Regular J-1
  •  Short-term J-1

Foreign scholars who will be at Stanford for more than six months will apply for a regular J-1 visa. Scholars may be in the United States on a J-1 visa for a maximum of five years before the scholar is required to return to their home country. After completing their program, however, regardless of length of stay in the U.S., scholars will be barred from returning to the U.S. under a second J-1 visa for two years. The two-year bar does not apply to programs less than six months; thus a short-term J-1 visa is the best option for visitors who are only staying for less than half a year.

The Stanford fee for preparation of the initial and transfer DS-2019 documents for J-1 Visiting Student Researchers and family members, as well as costs for mailing of the documents via international courier, is included in the CEAS VSR fee (see above). All other J-1 application fees, including the SEVIS fee of $180 to the US Government which is paid online by the VSR before receiving the DS-2019, along with any local embassy/consulate appointment fees, are paid directly by the scholar.

Financial Support

CEAS does not provide funding for visiting scholars. All scholars who apply must show proof of financial support (through any combination of private funds, institutional support, or fellowship) equal to a minimum of $2,500 per month for the length of their entire visit. While this is the minimum required amount, due to the high cost of living around Stanford, CEAS recommends the following minimum funding amounts:

  • $4,000/month Visiting Scholar
  • $1,000/month Spouse
  • $ 800/month each dependent child

Thus, we recommend a family of four have a minimum $6,600/month for the length of their stay.

Housing Information

CEAS staff are unable to assist visitors with finding housing. Visitors are able to view on-line listings and other resources at the University Housing Office once their names and e-mail addresses are forwarded during the application process. Visitors are also encouraged to utilize other resources such as Craigslist, or other pay-for-service rental sites.