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Visa Categories

The University of Rochester welcomes a large number of foreign nationals from around the world to study, research, and work. To accommodate the variety of programs and activities pursued at Rochester, the International Services Office (ISO) is approved to sponsor several different visa categories.

We’ve compiled a comparison of the most commonly used nonimmigrant visa categories, below.

 Note: Fees listed are in addition to any applicable visa fees.

  • F-1 Students

    Purpose: For full-time academic study in a degree-bearing program or recognized visiting student category.

    Additional Fees: I-901 SEVIS Fee

    Maximum Period: None specified, provided pursuing academic goals.

    Notes: Individuals under F-1 sponsorship must maintain full-time enrollment, while employment activities must be secondary and often related to their academic program.

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  • J-1 Exchange Visitors

    Purpose: For full-time academic study or temporary academic appointment for researchers or other scholars. Employment-based categories include postdoctoral appointments, visiting instructor, research associate, etc.

    Additional Fees: I-901 SEVIS Fee

    Maximum Period:

    • Student: None specified, provided pursuing academic goals
    • Research scholar or professor: up to 5 years
    • Short-term scholar: up to 6 months
    • Student intern: up to 12 months per academic degree program

    Notes: Some individuals may be subject to a two-year home residency requirement, which prohibits applying for H, L, or permanent residence, until the residency requirement is satisfied or a waiver is granted. J-2 dependents are eligible to apply for work permission.

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  • B-1/B-2 Visitors

    Purpose: Appropriate for an individual visiting to collaborate on a project, job interview, observership, etc. Incidental study may be permitted.

    Additional Fees: None

    Maximum Period: Three to six months per visit

    Notes: Called an “honoraria exception,” a B-1 visitor may be paid an honoraria and reimbursed for incidental expenses if the individual’s visit or activity does not last more than nine days at a single university and they have not accepted honoraria from more than five institutions within a six month period. Visitors cannot typically change to another nonimmigrant category within the United States.

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  • Visa Waiver Program

    Purpose: Like the B visa, for an individual visiting for tourism, or to collaborate on a project, job interview, observership, etc. Incidental study may be permitted.

    Additional Fees: ESTA registration fee

    Maximum Period: Up to 90 days; no extensions of stay or changing of status.

    Notes: Visitors must have a machine-readable passport, biometric passport, and citizenship from an eligible country.

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  • Permanent Residence

    Purpose: To allow for continued residency within the United States, based on strict eligibility requirements and subject to substantial processing times. Permissions to travel and/or work may be approved in advance, while the residency petition is still pending. Working with an immigration attorney is recommended.

    Additional Fees: Varies

    Maximum Period: None, provided certain residency standards are met.

    Notes: The three main pathways to permanent resident status are:

    • Employment-based sponsorship
    • The Diversity Visa Lottery
    • Family-based sponsorship

    Employment-sponsored petitions through the University are subject to strict criteria; eligibility and viability are determined on a case-by-case basis and it is the University’s prerogative whether to proceed with any given case.

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Temporary Workers

  • H-1B Temporary Workers

    Purpose: For professionals in a specialty occupation requiring a theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge and a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.

    Additional Fees:

    • I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker ($460)
    • Fraud prevention fee ($500)
    • Premium processing fee ($1,410)
    • I-539 for Dependents to Change Status or Extend H-4 ($370)

    Maximum Period: Typically granted in three-year increments for a total of six years. The six-year period can be with one employer or a series of employers.

    Notes: The application is an employer-sponsored petition and must be filed by the University of Rochester. It CANNOT be filed by an individual. Dual intent is recognized. Processing time is lengthy and requires extensive documentation. H-4 dependents may not work, but may be eligible to study.

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  • TN Workers from Canada (NAFTA)

    Purpose: Similar to H-1B, for Canadian citizens who are professionals in designated worker categories to allow for expedited processing of work authorization.

    Additional Fees:

    • $50 filing fee
    • $10 port of entry fee

    Maximum Period: Granted in increments of up to three years, with no limit on the number of extensions.

    Notes: Appendix 1603.D.1 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (worker categories). Subject to nonimmigrant intent,  assuming that the employment remains temporary. TD dependents may be eligible to study, but not to work.

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  • O-1 Workers with Extraordinary Ability

    Purpose: For professionals with documented extraordinary ability or achievement.

    Additional Fees: I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker ($325)

    Maximum Period: Initial stay granted for up to three years. Extensions may be requested, in increments of one year.

    Notes: Dual intentis recognized. Dependents (spouses, children under 21) of an O-1 may be eligible for O-3 status; they may not work, but may be eligible for study.

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