Information for Visiting Scholars


If you are interested in a temporary research or teaching appointment at Cal Poly, please contact the Cal Poly academic department associated with your field. The department will initiate the invitation process through the appropriate Dean’s office. You may also find academic departments listed under the A-Z search at Cal Poly.

Once you have been accepted for Cal Poly sponsorship for a J-1 visa, the International Center will send you a link to the DS-2019 Request form or J-1 Student Intern Request Form within which we will collect electronically, an image of passport, proof of funding, proof of English Proficiency, your CV, and an electronic mentor agreement or internship supervisor agreement from your Cal Poly faculty or staff sponsor.

Once you have been accepted for Cal Poly sponsorship for a J-1 visa, the International Center will send you a link to the DS-2019 Request form or J-1 Student Intern Request Form within which we will collect information and documents required to issue your visa eligibility documents. These documents include an image of your passport, proof of funding, proof of English Proficiency, your CV, and an electronic mentor agreement or internship supervisor agreement from your Cal Poly faculty or staff sponsor. If you are bringing dependents we will also need copies of their passports and a marriage certificate for an accompanying spouse.

Be sure to include documented proof of any funds you will use to support yourself during your stay at Cal Poly. The amount of funds you will need to show will depend on your length of stay and number of dependents coming with you. Funding can be in any combination of salary from Cal Poly (if applicable), personal, government, or organizational funds including stipends, scholarships, or other support. Documents must be no older than six months. The amount required is based on the cost estimates for living in San Luis Obispo.

Proof of funding required in U.S. dollars per month

Yourself $2100
Spouse $600
Each child $350

U.S. Department of State regulations require that the sponsor (Cal Poly) evaluate the visitor’s English language skills to determine that the visitor has sufficient proficiency in the English language to successfully participate in his or her program and to function on a day-to-day basis. We are allowed to use one of the following "objective measurements of English language proficiency" to determine an applicant's language proficiency:

  • A recognized English language test;
  • Signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school; or
  • A documented interview conducted by the sponsor either in-person or by videoconferencing, or by telephone if videoconferencing is not a viable option. This is to be done by the faculty member serving as the mentor to the visitor while he or she is at Cal Poly. This can be conducted and documented by the Cal Poly faculty mentor or internship supervisor when he or she submits the online recommendation or supervisor agreement.

All J-1 exchange visitors are required to have health insurance while in the United States. Unlike many other countries, which bear the expense of health care for its residents, individuals in the U.S. are responsible for these expenses themselves. A single day of hospitalization can cost thousands of dollars. A good insurance policy gives you access to excellent medical facilities and provides protection against the enormous costs of health care.

Insurance Requirements

The U.S. Department of State requires that J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents have sickness and accident insurance for their entire stay in the USA. If the J-1 or J-2 visitor spends time outside of the USA during the period of the program, health insurance must still be in place for the entire duration of the program. Minimum coverage must provide medical benefits ($100,000 per accident or illness), a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness, expenses associated with the medical evacuation to the home country ($50,000), and repatriation of remains ($25,000). Email Susan Tripp with any questions about the requirements.

Insurance must be in effect by the program start date on the DS-2019.

Cal Poly offers a health insurance plan for scholars that you may purchase that meets the J-1 visa requirements.

  1. Verify that your passport is valid at least six (6) months past your arrival date.
  2. Review theDS-2019 form issued by the International Center for accuracy. If there are any errors, notify the International Center immediately. Do not pay the SEVIS fee if there is an error on your form. J-1 Student Interns will also receive a DS-7002 Form. Review that form for accuracy and keep it with your DS-2019 Form.
  3. If you are coming for an internship, review your DS-7002 Training/Internship Placement Plan for accuracy and sign it.
  4. Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee. See this tutorial on paying the fee. See this tutorial on paying the I-901 SEVIS fee.
  5. Apply for a visa at a United States Embassy or Consulate in your home country. Special instructions for Canadian citizens: A J-1 visa is not required. Just pay the I-901 SEVIS fee, then bring your passport, I-901 receipt, DS-2019 (and DS-7002 if applicable), and proof of funds with you to the U.S. port of entry.
  6. Prepare for your J-1 visa appointment
  7. Bring your documents with you to your visa appointment. You will be interviewed in English. Remain calm and answer questions honestly. Be prepared to talk about your program at Cal Poly and your plans when you return to your home country. The interview is normally brief and may be as short as five to ten minutes.
  8. Check to be sure that your DS-2019 is returned with your passport and the information on your visa is correct. Carry your DS-2019 (and DS-7002 if applicable) with you on the plane.
  9. See instructions for Entering the USA.

How to Get Here

Transportation via air, bus, or train is available from San Francisco (SFO), Los Angeles (LAX), Dallas (DFW), and Phoenix (PHX) to San Luis Obispo (SBP). San Luis Obispo is approximately 225 miles from Los Angeles to the south and San Francisco to the north. It is best to book your flight all the way through to San Luis Obispo. You may also take the Amtrak train or Greyhound bus to San Luis Obispo from Los Angeles or San Francisco. Once you arrive in San Luis Obispo, you will need to take a taxi, Uber, or Lyft ride to your apartment or hotel.

Taxi Services

Temporary accommodations

If you intend to stay in a hotel or motel when you first arrive, make reservations well in advance of your arrival. Here are some hotels and motels that are close to campus:

A youth hostel, Hostel Obispo is located close to campus at 1617 Santa Rosa St., San Luis Obispo, and is another option for temporary housing until you get settled in an apartment. Call (805) 544-4768 or visit Hotel Obispo to make a reservation.

You must have the following if you are leaving and then re-entering the United States:

  • A valid passport, good for six months after your entry date.
  • A valid J-1 visa. Be sure to check your J-1 visa in your passport. If it has expired, you will have to apply for a J-1 visa renewal. You will not be able to re-enter the U.S. in J-1 status without a valid, current J-1 visa.
  • A current, valid DS-2019 with a current travel signature. Your DS-2019 must be current and must have a travel signature that is not older than 6 months. Only Cal Poly International Students and Scholars staff may provide a travel signature. You cannot enter the U.S. with an expired DS-2019 or with a DS-2019 that does not have a current travel signature.

If you are renewing your visa while traveling outside of the U.S., please stop by the International Students and Scholars office to obtain a letter verifying that you have been maintaining status as an Exchange Visitor in the U.S., and that you are needed at Cal Poly and are expected to return.

Renewing your J-1 visa is not guaranteed. Exchange visitors from some countries may be subject to a security clearance which can delay visa issuance for a month or more. We strongly recommend that you do NOT apply for a new visa during the December vacation period or between winter and spring quarters.

If you do not have a J-1 visa in your passport, you must make an appointment at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate office in your home country. In some countries, you may not be able to get an appointment for several months. Check your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate for more information on visa interview appointments.


Please contact Judy Mitchell ( or Susan Tripp ( if you have any questions.