The following are options for visitors who wish to come to the University for a short visit (please see the options below for the maximum length of a visit in that status). If you have any questions about which visa is right for your scholar then please contact the Office for International Students and Scholars.

The J-1 Short-Term Scholar

If a visitor wants to come to the U.S and carry out any of the following activities:

  • Lecturing or observing
  • Consulting or Training
  • Demonstrating special sills at research institutions, museums, libraries or post-secondary accredited education institutions

then the J-1 Short-Term Scholar category may be appropriate. This is also appropriate if their stay does not conform to the 9-5-6 Rule (see below). Also, occasionally consulates won’t allow someone to come over on a B-1 depending on their program so a J-1 may be appropriate or the only option. The scholar must meet the following criteria:

  1. Have at least a master’s degree
  2. Be established in his or her field
  3. Be engaged in cultural exchange activities while at the university

A J-1 short-term scholar can be in the U.S. for up to six months or for as little as one day.

J-1 short-term scholars can be paid by the university or funded by other sources in the U.S. or abroad.

To enter the United States as a J-1 short-term scholar the person will need a DS-2019, J-1 visa and valid passport. The DS-2019 is usually created by the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) and the request for these forms should be completed by the department via ISD.

The B-1 Visitor for Business

If a visitor wants to come to the U.S. in B-1 status then he or she should come to engage in one or more of the following activities.

  • Consult with business associates
  • Participate in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences or seminars
  • Undertake independent research

A B-1 is not appropriate for someone coming to the U.S. to engage in temporary employment. For those who are coming to Washington University to conduct research, it is important that this be considered “independent research,” which means that this is entirely for the benefit of the B-1 visitor, even though the research is conducted on the premises of Washington University. Someone who previously conducted the same research as a J-1 or an H-1B risks being denied a visa or being denied entry to the US as a B-1. In addition, if the visitor publishes the research under Washington University’s name, that may also be construed to be research for Washington University, and thus is not considered as “independent research.”

According to regulations a B-1 may not be paid a salary from a U.S. source for activities done while in the U.S. The University can reimburse travel expenses incidental to the temporary stay such as air travel, and living expenses but these may not exceed the reasonable costs that the alien will incur in visiting the University.

To enter the United States the person must have B-1 visa in his/her passport. In order to obtain a B-1 visa the person will have to visit a U.S. consulate abroad and apply. Applying for a visa can be a lengthy process and should be started well in advance of the prospective start date. If the visitor already has a valid B-1 or B-1/B-2 visa in his/her passport, then they do not have to apply for a new visa. If the scholar has or receives a B-1/B-2 the scholar should be sure to enter the U.S. as a B-1 otherwise s/he can’t be reimbursed.

The supporting documentation for this visa is a letter from the Washington University department that is inviting this guest. The letter is the B-1/VWP Invitation Letter. Talk to your International Scholar advisor about obtaining a template of this letter.

B-2 (or WT) status is typically used for activities such as tourism, visits with friends or relatives, and medical treatment. However, in some situations, visitors are given the B-2 or WT at the port of entry, even though they indicate that they are coming to lecture or visit with faculty members.

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

If a visitor is a citizen of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver program, then the person can enter the U.S. without a visa. Please talk to your International Scholar Advisor about which countries participate in the visa waiver program.

If a visitor wants to come to the U.S. under the terms of the Visa Waiver Program then he or she should come to engage in one or more of the following activities.

  • Consult with business associates
  • Participate in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences or seminars
  • Undertake independent research

Someone on a Visa Waiver for business (WB) can only be in the U.S. for 90 days and cannot be paid wages. The foreign national on a WB can be reimbursed for travel expenses like the B-1 visitor (see above). If you would like to pay the person an honorarium that is only allowable under certain circumstances, please see the 9-5-6 Rule for Paying Honorariums below.

To enter the United States the person should have a valid passport and a B-1/VWP visitor invitation letter to show to customs border patrol when entering the U.S. in order to be admitted to the U.S. as a visitor for business (WB). Please ask your International Scholar advisor for the template of this letter.

Process of Obtaining WB Status:

The visitor should check with the U.S. consulate in his or her country of residence to determine if he or she is eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program. If eligible, the visitor will not need to apply for an entry visa at a U.S. consulate. The visitor will need to obtain pre-travel authorization from the Department of Homeland Security through a new electronic screening system called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Information about ESTA is available on the Customs and Border Protection website at

If the ESTA travel authorization is approved, then the visitor is eligible to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program, although this does not guarantee admission. If the ESTA travel is not authorized, then the visitor will have to apply for a B-1/B-2 visa at a U.S. consulate.

A Washington University department can provide the visitor with an invitation letter for the visitor to use at the consulate and port of entry. OISS can provide departments with information about what to include in this letter.

The 9-5-6 Rule for paying honorariums

According to regulations if a foreign national comes into the U.S. in B-1 or B-2 status or on the Visa Waiver Program in either Waiver for Business (WB) or Waiver for Tourism (WT) then the person “may accept an honorarium payment and associated incidental expenses for usual academic activities (which can include lecturing, guest teaching, or performing in an academic sponsored festival) if:

  1. The activity directly benefits the University
  2. The activities last no longer than nine days at any single institution or organization.
  3. The person has not accepted honorarium payments from more than five institutions or organizations over the last six months.
  4. The honorarium is for services conducted for the benefit of the institution or entity”

Please contact your International Scholar Advisor if you are not sure if your activity or foreign national qualifies for reimbursement payments.

The person will need the B/VWP Honorarium Invitation Letter to take with them when entering the U.S. or applying for the B visa at the U.S. consulate. Please ask your International Scholar Advisor for a template of this letter.

Tax Issues: Reimbursement and Honorarium Payments to B-1 and VWP status holders

For more information about required tax forms and tax regulations please contact:

Angie Leahy
Manager of Tax

Chelsea Deimel
Senior Tax Accountant