Non-Degree Visiting Students

Make sure to read the content of this page in its entirety.  Any information you miss can cause significant problems along the way and could even jeopardize your status in the U.S.

 

About 'Non-Degree Visiting Student' Status

Non-Degree Visiting Students (NDVS) are students that are attending other institutions inside or outside of the U.S. who come to the University to do thesis or dissertation research.  Students typically do research with a specific PI or lab.

More information about undergraduate and graduate NDVS policies can be found below. If you are interested in becoming an NDVS at the University of Chicago, contact the department with which you would like to do research. Your first step is to be invited by the PI or department.

Graduate Non-Degree Visiting Students

Graduate Non-Degree Visitors are advanced graduate students pursuing a graduate level degree at another academic institution, who are at the research or writing stage, and who temporarily work on their research project with a faculty member at the University of Chicago. Graduate non-degree visiting students are:

  • Considered to be in a full-time student status;
  • Charged the Non-Degree Visitor fee per quarter as well as other mandatory fees;
  • Eligible to participate in laboratory-based research;
  • Not eligible to enroll in courses at the University (thus exempt from the immunization requirements);
  • Not allowed to take on a teaching position with the University; and
  • Given student privileges such as access to the libraries, student housing, athletic facilities, and electronic networks

Graduate non-degree visiting students must comply with all University rules and regulations and are subject to student disciplinary systems. This status is available for no more than four consecutive quarters, including the summer quarter. This status may be extended by up to four consecutive quarters upon recommendation of the faculty sponsor and the area Dean of Students and with the approval of the Executive Vice Provost.

A student who has been offered and has accepted admission to a graduate program at the University of Chicago may join the University as a non-degree visiting student for the summer immediately preceding the beginning of graduate studies with the University. Summer term is understood to extend from the first day after the end of the spring quarter to the last day before the beginning of the autumn quarter.

Undergraduate NDVS

The information for undergraduate non-degree visiting students is the same as that for graduate non-degree visiting students (see above), except for the following: Undergraduate non-degree visiting students can come to the University of Chicago for research during the summer only. The cost of living and tuition and fees are slightly different from those for graduate non-degree visiting students as well.

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Required English-Language Proficiency

All international students, including NDVS, are required to meet the English language requirements of the University of Chicago. As an NDVS student, you must meet one of the following standards:

  • TOEFL speaking score of 18 or better;
  • IELTS speaking score of 6 or better (academic test);
  • PTE speaking score of 50;
  • Having earned a degree in the U.S. or having attended a U.S.; institution of higher learning full-time for at least one year in the last five years; OR
  • Passing the University's Academic English Proficiency Assessment (AEPP) with a score of "Basic" or better. Your host department at the University will assist you in making needed arrangements.

The English language requirement may be waived if the applicant is a native of or studied in full-time status for at least one academic year within the last five years in only the following countries:

  • The U.S.
  • The United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Australia
  • New Zealand OR
  • English medium universities in Canada or South Africa.

Students who studied in English in other countries, for example, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc., are not exempt from the English language requirement. 

Required Expenses and Costs

There are costs associated with being an NDVS. Graduate level NDVS expenses consist of:

  • Tuition and fees
  • An estimated cost of living
  • Mandatory health insurance
  • Additional costs for dependents (spouse, children), if applicable

All expenses are estimates assessed by a quarterly basis. Quarterly expenses cannot be prorated, even if you are here for part of a quarter only.

Your department/division will inform you of the tuition and fee amounts in effect at the time of your visit. Your department/division will be careful to align your visit as closely as possible with the start and end date of the University's quarters so as to avoid extra costs.

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Getting Immigration Sponsorship from UChicago

There are several steps you must do to receive immigration sponsorship from the University:

STEP 1: Receive an Official Invitation

To come to the University of Chicago as an NDVS, you require an invitation (admission) from the department/division where you plan to conduct your research. 

Although OIA issues your immigration document and provides information and guidance on immigration and related matters along the way, we do not admit NDVS, nor can we help you find a host department in the University. If you wish to come to the University of Chicago to conduct research toward your degree, the first point of consultation should be your faculty adviser at your home institution.

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STEP 2: Choose Between F-1 and J-1

To legally attend the University as an NDVS, you must be in an immigration status that allows for full-time study. As an NDVS student, you are eligible for F-1 or J-1 immigration sponsorship from the University.

Which Status Should I choose?

All NDVS will be given F-1 Status unless one of the following conditions are met:

  1. Your funding source requires that you choose J-1 status (i.e. China Scholarship Council Funding)
    OR
  2. You will be accompanied by a dependent spouse and they are interested in working in the U.S. (The J-2 spouses of J-1 students can apply for U.S. work authorization)
    • Note: This circumstance is exceedingly rare, because obtaining employment authorization takes several months after arrival in the U.S. and most NDVS are not in the U.S. long enough to benefit from such a step.
  • If you meet either of the criteria above, make sure to make your program aware that you want yo apply for J-1 status.

Unless you meet one of the two criteria listed above, you will automatically be provided with F-1 status. However, it is important to understand that NDVS do not qualify for certain benefits of F-1 student status, such as employment authorization. Such benefits are available to degree-seeking students only.

Already in the U.S. at a different institution?

If you are currently in the U.S. with an I-20/DS-2019 issued by a different school, please see the information about attending UChicago in your current immigration status.

Transfer Your Current F-1/J-1 Record to UChicago

If you have a current, active F-1/J-1 record at another school, you may be able to transfer your SEVIS record to UChicago. Please see our transfer page for information.

A Note about Tourist Status, B-1/B-2, and/or ESTA

Note that you cannot be an NDVS in B-1/B-2 status or under the Visa Waiver Program (also referred to as ESTA), as it is unlawful. Visitors in B-1/B-2 Tourist status or who have entered with the Visa Waiver Program (WVP) are NOT legally eligible to study or take courses.  Studying at UChicago while in tourist status or under VWP would likley violate your status and have a negative immigration impact.

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STEP 3: Submit Documentation to your Department

The initial stages of the process unfold between you and your host department/division in the University. This includes gathering information and documents from you and only when a complete file has been assembled by the office of the Dean of Students does the Office of International Affairs (OIA) receive your information.

You must work with your department and submit the following documents to them:

  • Copy of passport (and passport of any dependents accompanying you). Your immigration record (I-20/DS-2019) and University record will be created using the name on your passport. These records must match at all times. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future at all times while in F-1/J-1 status.
  • Evidence that you have the required NDVS English Proficiency meeting one of the requirements above
  • Acceptance financial documentation that meets or exceeds the expense amount provided by your department

Your admissions department will contact you with instructions on where and how to submit these documents. If you have any questions, please contact your admissions department directly.

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STEP 4: Obtain your I-20 or DS-2019

After you submit your documents to your academic department, the documents will be reviewed and sent to OIA for processing.  After your I-20 or DS-2019 is created, it will be mailed to you. Learn more about the document issuance process and what to expect on the admitted students website.

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STEP 5: Apply for and Receive an F-1/J-1 Visa

Once you have your F-1 I-20 or J-1 DS-2019, you must use the document to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa by following these steps:

  1. Pay the SEVIS fee and print your SEVIS fee receipt
  2. Make a visa appointment and go to consulate/embassy to get F-1 or J-1 visa no earlier than 120 days before your I-20/DS-2019 start date
  • Canadian Students: students from Canada (holding a Canadian passport) do not need to apply for an F-1 or J-1 entry visa.  All other steps and immigration regulations will apply, including needing an I-20/DS-2019, paying the SEVIS fee, and entering the U.S. in F-1/J-1 status.

If you are coming to the US in J-1 status: As a non-degree visiting student in F-1 status, you are classified as a student in the University's system and the immigration system referst to you as an international student. If you are coming to the U.S. in J-1 status, you are classified as a student in the University's system, but the immigration system refers to you as an Exchange Visitor. J-1 status includes multiple categories, and the University of Chicago sponsors NDVS in J-1 status in the category "student, non-degree."

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STEP 6: Arrive in the U.S. in F-1/J-1 Status

Once you have an I-20/DS-2019 and your F-1/J-1 student visa, you will need to enter the U.S. with those documents to become an F-1 or J-1 student.  To do this, you must follow the steps below:

  1. Travel to the U.S. no more than 30 days before your I-20/DS-2019 start date
  2. Update your address in my.UChicago or the Booth Intranet (READ THE INSTRUCTIONS FIRST). You must follow all instructions exactly, otherwise we cannot report to SEVIS that you have arrived
  3. Submit an online NDVS check-in form within 3 business days of arriving in Chicago. If you fail to report your arrival, your SEVIS record will automatically be invalidated by the SEVIS system. If this happens, you will no longer have legal status in the U.S. and will have to discontinue your program and return home.
  4. Subscribe to intlndvs@lists.uchicago.edu. This lists provides important updates to all international non-degree visiting students in the University.

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Maintaining Lawful Status in the U.S.

Individuals in F-1 or J-1 status must follow certain requirements to maintain legal status in the United States.  While you are in the U.S., you must make sure to do the following. 

Click on the links to learn about your responsibilities:

  • Submit an online NDVS check-in form within 3 business days of arriving in Chicago.
  • Maintain valid documents. Keep your documents valid at all times and make any requests for changes in a timely manner
  • Update your address within 10 days of moving. You are required by law to keep your address updated throughout your program by following the address update instructions exactly.
  • Keep your I-20 and DS-2019 up to date. Under limited circumstances, you may need to stay for a longer period or shorted period than originally expected. In these cases, you must either apply for an extension of your record with your department or notify OIA that you need to shorten your record.
    • To apply for an extension: Apply at least 4 weeks before your current end date.  Contact your Dean of Student's office to request the extension. If your request is approved, your department will send a request for extension to OIA.
    • Your Form I-20 or DS-2019 cannot be extended after the expiration date has been reached! Once the end date on your Form I-20 or DS-2019 is reached, you must discontinue your program activities here.
  • Leave the U.S. by the end of your Grace Period. You have a short Grace period after your I-20/DS-2019 ends. The length of the Grace Period varies based on your status. Review the link to learn more.
  • Do not work! NDVS are NOT eligible for any kind of on or off campus employment authorizations except where required as part of the pre-established NDVS arrangement.  Working without authorization is a violation of immigration law and will result in the termination of your F-1/J-1 status.

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Other Important Information for NDVS

Health Insurance

NDVS must meet the health insurance requirements of the University and can either purchase the University Student Health Insurance Plan (USHIP) or another plan that meets the same requirements. For information on those requirements, see the Comparable Coverage Checklist.

J-1 NDVS must also meet the federally required health insurance. Not carrying this level of health insurance constitutes a violation of J-1 status and could result in the termination of your J-1 status.

If you wish to opt out of (waive) the University's Student Health Insurance Plan, you must hold an insurance policy meeting the requirements in the Comparable Coverage Checklist linked above. 

Insurance plans used by some University students can be found at https://www.compassbenefits.com.

Tax ID Numbers (SSN vs. ITIN)

Because they are not eliglbe for any kind of work authorization, international NDVS are not eligible for a Social Security Numbers.

If your department is providing a stipend, scholarship, or other funding, you can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), if needed.  Visit the link for ITIN information and application instructions.

Dependents (Spouses and Children)

If your spouse or child will join you after you arrive in the U.S. and wants to do so in F-2 or J-2 status, you can add them as a dependent. Please see adding a dependent for more information.

Travel in F-1/J-1 Status

Please review our travel information in advance of any travel.

Getting Help

Your department will advise you on day-to-day student matters in the University, including your registration as an NDVS in the Registrar's system (even though you are not taking classes here), billing for fees, how to obtain your e-mail address and UChicago ID card, and more.

OIA assists you with all immigration and immigration-related matters, such as applying for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, information how to obtain a drivers license in the U.S., and other matters of a governmental or bureaucratic nature. 

We also advise you on a range of concerns having to do with your stay at the University and we can direct you to additional resources. So please do not hesitate to contact OIA if we can provide information or support at any time. If we are not the ones to resolve an issue, we can usually connect you with the office or person who can.

Other Resources for J-1 NDVS

Additional information for NDVS in J-1 status:

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