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, 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. Note: the J-1 non-degree visiting student visa allows maximum participation up to 24-months. NDVS cannot be extended beyond this amount of time as this is a U.S. Department of State regulation. 

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 the requirements as outlined here:

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 and be admitted to UChicago as a Non-Degree Visitor

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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J-1 Visa Status

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 J-1 immigration sponsorship from the University. The J-1 NDVS category permits someone to remain in this status for up to 24-months, but no longer.

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). 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 2: Request an immigration document from OIA

After you've been admitted to the university as a Non-degree visitor, your admissions department will send you information about required documentation, timelines, and instructions to apply for the DS-2019.  

DS-2019 Request Process at a Glance:
  • STEP 1: Once ready, your admitting department will invite you to complete an I-20/DS-2019 Request within the University of Chicago's OIA Portal. Please note you will need your CNET ID and password to access the OIA Portal. NOTE: Activating your CNET ID may take up to 3 days to fully complete, which could prevent successful login to the OIA portal. 
  • STEP 2: Once in the OIA Portal, you will see the I-20/DS-2019 Request Form and instructions. Complete all sections and upload all required documentation (e.g. passport bio page, financial documentation, etc. - see below).
  • STEP 3: Upon upload, your I-20/DS-2019 Request will be reviewed by our office and you will be notified if it is complete to process or incomplete and requires further attention.
  • STEP 4: If accepted, your I-20 or DS-2019 will be issued within 3 weeks. If rejected, you will be notified by email why your submission was rejected (e.g. missing documents, etc.).
  • STEP 5: Once your I-20/DS-2019 is issued, you will receive an email with your SEVIS ID#, School/Program Code, and next step instructions to pay the SEVIS Fee and schedule a visa appointment at a U.S. embassy/consulate. 
Required documentation for the I-20/DS-2019 Request:
  1. A copy of the biographical page(s) in your passport (the pages with your picture, name and date of birth).  Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future at all times while in F-1/J-1 status.
  2. Proof of sufficient funds to cover the estimated expenses for your entire visit or first year of your visit (if visiting for more than 1 year). Your admitting program will provide you with your estimated expenses.
    1. For more about acceptable financial documentation.
    2. Please only submit summary statements and not all pages of accounts. 
  3. Copy of your letter of admission to the University of Chicago (this can be the PDF you received via email). 

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STEP 3: Obtain a 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 4: Apply for and Receive the J-1 Visa

Once you have your DS-2019, you must use the document to apply for a 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 a 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 a J-1 entry visa.  All other steps and immigration regulations will apply, including needing a DS-2019, paying the SEVIS fee, and entering the U.S. in J-1 status.

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STEP 5: Arrive in the U.S. in J-1 Status and Check In

Once you have a DS-2019 and your J-1 student visa, you will need to enter the U.S. with those documents to become a 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 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 the International Student Check In form within 5 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.

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Maintaining Lawful Status in the U.S.

Individuals in 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 the International Student Check In form within 5 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 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 DS-2019 cannot be extended after the expiration date has been reached! Once the end date on your Form 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 30-day grace-period after your program ends (reflected on your DS-2019). 
  • Do not work Off Campus! NDVS are NOT eligible for any kind of off campus employment authorizations except where required as part of the pre-established NDVS arrangement.  However, NDVS may work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and full-time during official university breaks. NDVS in J-1 status must report their on-campus employment to OIA via the J-1 On Campus Employment Report Form.

    Note: NDVS are not allowed to take on teaching positions with the university. See the Graduate Student Manual for more information

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Other Important Information for NDVS

Health Insurance

  • Non-Degree Visitors (J-1) and their dependents (J-2) are required to carry health insurance for the duration of their program. See Health Insurance for J-1 Exchange Visitors for full requirements.
  • Students can meet the J-1 health insurance requirement by purchasing the University Student Health Insurance Plan (USHIP) or another plan that meets the same requirements. If you intend to purchase your own insurance, please use this Comparable Coverage Checklist 2023 - 2024 to ensure your plan will also meet the J-1 requirements.
  • A willful failure to carry health insurance is considered to be a violation of the Exchange Visitor Program regulations and could result in termination of the J-1 / J-2 status.

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 J-2 status, you can add them as a dependent. Please see adding a dependent for more information.

Travel in 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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