Visitors and Interns

Most international visitors on visas sponsored by Cornell University are clearly students or faculty/staff. Moreover, ISSO policy requires that all sponsored international visitors are classified in relevant university databases as either a student (PS) or as faculty/staff (Workday).

When Cornell Faculty and Research Staff wish to bring an international visitor who is a student in their home country and who does not clearly fit into a Cornell student or Cornell faculty/staff classification, the ISSO is happy to discuss the parameters of the case and to offer a preliminary recommendation to either:

  • Work with the Department/Unit HR contact - if a staff appointment seems most appropriate.
  • Work with the GFA and/or appropriate admissions office - if non-degree student status seems most appropriate.

Please note that ISSO can provide advice around what is possible from a regulatory perspective, but that Cornell faculty and Staff must follow whatever policies and procedures are set in place for international visitors within their Department, College, School or Division.


F-1 Non-Degree Student Option:

Have the international come as a non-degree student—MUST obtain F1 visa status (unless already in the US in a status that allows enrollment—CANNOT be in B1/B2 STATUS). This is the first choice (and the best choice) whether they are an undergraduate or a graduate student abroad.

Pros and Cons

  • MUST register full time
  • Graduate Students: must be registered full time in the summer if here for the summer only or starting in the summer (6 credits of research); must be registered full time in the fall and spring (may be able to enroll in "Provost International Research Intern Program").
  • Undergraduate students: must register for at least 6 credits in the summer, 12 during the fall and spring, must pay tuition (may be able to enroll in "Provost International Research Intern Program").
  • Undergraduates must pay for their own accident and medical insurance
  • BOTH grads and undergrads CAN work on campus up to 20 hours per week (paid or unpaid)
  • BOTH CAN be reimbursed for expenses (travel, food, lodging)


J-1 Research Scholar/Short-Term Scholar Staff Option:

Have the international come as a J1 Research Scholar. This is ONLY a choice for a graduate student who will be given an academic appointment, or who will be appointed as an Research Intern for a period not to exceed twelve months. Important Note: Cornell Policy minimally requires that Research Interns have either earned or be working toward a bachelor's degree or higher. However, the J1 Research Scholar category, as per the US Department of State, is meant for those qualified to perform advanced teaching and research. The J1 Research Scholar and Short-Term Scholar categories are not appropriate for undergraduates. ISSO will issue J1 Research Scholar and Short Term Scholar DS-2019's only for those who already possess a Bachelor's degree and who are engaged in graduate level research/programs. Choice #1 is appropriate for undergraduate-level students.

Pros and Cons

  • Must have a bachelors degree and be working on a masters degree or higher (for some positions, a doctoral degree is required)
  • MUST have an academic appointment, or must be appointed as an intern for no more than 12 months
  • Must have sufficient financial support (personal funds, funding from Cornell, or funding from another source)
  • CAN work on campus up to 40 hours per week (paid or unpaid)
  • CAN be reimbursed for expenses (travel, food, lodging)
  • If not benefit eligible (unpaid or paid for temporary or less than 20 hours), then need to have own accident and medical insurance
  • Please refer to the policy on Engaging with Interns and Visiting Students for more information on intern appointments

B-1/B-2 Visitor/Volunteer

Have the international come on a B1/B2 visitor's visa or the visa waiver program (if from visa waiver country) Please note that some colleges or departments at Cornell might have a policy which would not allow this choice for liability reasons. The ISSO does not set these policies and can only convey the immigration regulations.

Pros and Cons

  • CAN NOT register (it is clearly against the regulations for a B1/B2 or visa waiver status holder to register for classes)
  • CAN NOT be paid to work on campus at all (except for B1s only at Cornell for 9 days or less)
  • CAN be reimbursed for expenses (travel, food, lodging) but be careful about recording exactly what is being reimbursed
  • MIGHT not meet university requirements for volunteers ( please read university policy on volunteers). Generally, if a person is not allowed to work in the U.S. due to the visa restriction, then they are also prohibited from working as a University volunteer.
  • Needs own accident and medical insurance and does not qualify for University programs as visitor.
  • MIGHT have trouble at US consulate obtaining B1/B2 visa stamp to come to Cornell to do research
  • MIGHT have trouble at US port of entry gaining entry as B1/B2 or visa waiver visitor to come to Cornell to do research