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Inviting International Visitors

We are here to help you invite visitors to Cal Poly!

If you are interested in hosting an international researcher, professor, guest lecturer, student intern, or other international guest, the International Center is here to assist with the visa process.

Invitation Process

International Students and Scholars (ISS) staff will assist in determining the best visa type for international visitors to Cal Poly.

Contact the ISS Office

Please email International Students & Scholars.

Include the following:

  • Name and email of the visitor
  • Name of the faculty or staff member who will be assisting or supervising the visitor

ISS will initiate the sponsorship approval form and reply with the recommended visa type for the visitor. If the J-1 visa is determined to be the best visa type International Students and Scholars will guide the process and create visa eligibility documents for the visitor. Additional information and resources may be found under the J-1 Visa Process and B-1 Visa Process tabs on this page.

If you are hiring a tenure-track faculty member, please contact Academic Personnel to learn about the H-1B visa process.

Social Security

If the visitor is to be paid, Academic Personnel will need to approve the appointment by seeing the offer letter.

The visitor must complete their check-in process with ISS prior to going to the Social Security office to apply for the SSN and card.

The visitor will need to provide Cal Poly payroll with a receipt for applying for a Social Security Card no later than 3 days after the start of work. The visitor should arrive early to apply for the card in order to be paid. It can take about two weeks to receive the card.

J-1 Visa Process

After reviewing the International Visitor Sponsorship Form, the International Center will notify the department or Dean's office contact that the J-1 visa is the appropriate visa for the visitor and the steps below are followed.

A master's student coming to do research can come in a scholar category. A bachelor’s student coming to do an internship at Cal Poly must use the Student Intern category and the department must follow the process for J-1 Interns. Cal Poly cannot sponsor visiting students to do internships off-campus unless they are exchange students qualifying for academic training after completing full-time.

1. Export compliance screening

The faculty mentor, student intern supervisor, or principle investigator will complete the Export Compliance Questionnaire through Adobe Sign to the Division of Research.

2. Visitor completes online request form

Once export compliance screening is cleared, International Students and Scholars (ISS) emails the visitor with a link to the appropriate online request form, either the DS-2019 Request Form for professors or research scholars, or the J-1 Student Intern Request Form for undergraduate interns. In the online form, the visitor will provide the information needed to produce the visa documents along with a copy of the passport, résumé, and proof of funding. The scholar will indicate the Cal Poly faculty mentor or internship supervisor.

Funding: All visiting scholars and interns must show they have funds to support themselves and any accompanying spouse or children during their stay.

The amount they must show to be issued a DS-2019 is estimated as follows:

  • J-1 visitor: $2800
  • Spouse and child: $500 per month each

The sources of funding can vary and documentation of the funds will be submitted to the International Center along with the online forms. Tax returns and long-term investment accounts are not acceptable financial documents.

3. Mentor Agreement or Intern Supervisor Agreement submitted

The faculty mentor, student intern supervisor, will complete the Exchange Visitor Mentor Agreement or J-1 Intern Supervisor Agreement.

4. Invitation letter sent from Dean's office

Once the form is complete, International Students and Scholars will request an invitation letter from your Dean’s Office,  specifying the terms of the assignment. A letter template will be provided. A scanned copy of the letter with the Dean’s signature is emailed to International Students and Scholars for review. If the appointment needs approval by Academic Personnel or CPC (if the visitor will be a paid instructor or researcher), please also send a copy of the approved employment contract to International Students and Scholars.

5. ISS sends DS-2019 to visitor

ISS will email the DS-2019 to the visitor along with visa application instructions.

6. Additional form for volunteers

The Dean’s office or hosting department initiates the Volunteer Assignment Form through AdobeSign if the visitors are not paid by Cal Poly.

7. Cal Poly ID and email account

When the Volunteer Assignment Form is completed, Academic Personnel (AP) will provide Empl ID when the record is created. The academic department will submit a service request on the Cal Poly portal to request an email and portal account for the visitor. Please reference this Empl ID so no duplicate record is created.

B-1 Visa Process

For short stays up to 90 days, a scholar (not a student) may try to visit on a B-1 visitor visa for business.

Many U.S. Embassies will insist on the J-1 visa so it is best to only try for entry in the B-1 visa category using ESTA Visa Waiver. See the list of countries online whose citizens qualify for the Visa Waiver Program. If it is determined that the visitor will come on a B-1 visa, the process is much simpler.

1. Invitation Letter

The Dean's office will issue an invitation letter (see samples below)

2. Signed copy

Department sends signed copy of offer letter and V-1 (if volunteer) to Academic Personnel to create a PeopleSoft entry for the visitor.

3. Visitor completes International Visitor Registration Form

All visitors on B-1 / B-2 visas or Visa Waivers must register their visit.

B-1 Visiting Scholars Forms and Sample Letters

Sample Letters

Written by Dean’s Office and sent to Academic Personnel with V-1 Form.

Written by Dean’s Office and sent to Academic Personnel with V-1 Form


The faculty mentor, student intern supervisor, or principle investigator will complete the Export Compliance Questionnaire. The Dean’s office or hosting department initiates the Volunteer Assignment Form through AdobeSign if the visitors are not paid by Cal Poly.

See the Administration & Finance Environment Health & Safety Volunteer Program for more information about inviting non-paid scholars and interns.