Formal Affiliation with the University (University Status) Required to Obtain Immigration Status
Anyone coming to the University from abroad must come to the University in a specific role or University 'status.' A student must have been admitted to a program, the student's data is managed in the University's student information system, and specific rules are associated with being a student. Similarly, non-degree visiting students fall into a clearly specified category, so do exchange students and students in a number of special programs. Employees or 'scholars' similarly fall into established categories and titles, such as Postdoctoral Scholar, Research Technician, Assistant Professor, or academic visitor categories as outlined in the Faculty Handbook.
Only when the University status of someone coming from abroad has been established can OIA determine the appropriate immigration status. Very important in this context: University status and immigration status are different concepts, and even in cases where they use the same term, they mean different things.
OIA is often asked in which status someone could come to the University from abroad for a particular purpose, such as research on a project. While our experience in such matters can be helpful, our primary expertise is in immigration statuses. For a determination of available University status, the following may be helpful:
Your department's or office's Student Administrator, the office of the Dean of Students, and the Student Manual at http://studentmanual.uchicago.edu, with the section on Student Enrollment Status at http://studentmanual.uchicago.edu/enrollment probably being most relevant.
Your department's or office's Human Resources Professional for staff and academic appointments as well as the Office of Academic Affairs in the BSD and/or the Office of the Provost for academic appointments.
On occasion, your department or area may not have a University status that would allow you to bring individuals to the US for a program or purpose not yet established through existing policy. This may require developing a new academic program or University status, which is a significant undertaking. Since OIA interacts with all departments, programs, and offices throughout the University, we may be aware of a model elsewhere that might be helpful in your exploration of options. For example, we may be aware of a student exchange or internship program elsewhere that is similar to what you hope to establish. So please do not hesitate to reach out to your regular international student or scholar adviser at OIA with questions. OIA staff members will consult with supervisors as needed and we will do our best to assist you.
Remember, without a formal affiliation with the University, OIA cannot provide immigration support for someone to come here. However, in collaboration between a department or program, OIA, and others with relevant roles in the University, we can often arrive at a solution. The intersection between University policy and immigration law may on occasion leave us without options, but that is rare and OIA will do its best to support your goals.