Visiting Researchers and Scholars

The designation “Research Affiliate” is a privilege accorded to scholars or researchers temporarily in residence at The University of Texas at Austin. These titles are Research Affiliate-Postdoctoral, Research Affiliate-Research Fellow, Research Affiliate-Senior Research Fellow and Research Affiliate-Visiting Researcher/Scholar. This page addresses the nomination process necessary for granting facilities access to both U.S. and international visitors and is, indeed, the first step in inviting these individuals to our campus; however, it is important to know that all nominations of non-U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents must follow specific immigration guidelines. Contact the International Office for more advice.

Departments may request a J-1 visa (DS-2019) through the International Office for the Research Affiliate classification. However, note that other titles within the University Affiliates (Affiliated Worker) category are also eligible for this visa, but are not under the Vice President for Research oversight. These titles are: Adjunct Clinical Worker, Independent Contractor, Visiting Student and Other Affiliated Worker. To determine the most appropriate title to use, visit the University Affiliates Web site.

Note that the information and requirements listed below apply to all the Research Affiliate titles.

Research Affiliates do not receive a stipend in their appointment, nor does their appointment imply tenure or continuation at the university. Note that privileges, such as ID cards and keys, will not be provided until the Research Affiliate’s assignment has received final approval.

For detailed information on Research Affiliate types, including qualifications, view the Research Titles page.

The process originates in a department of the university with the nomination by a faculty member or researcher who will accept an active responsibility for helping the researchers/scholars while they are here. A departmental contact prepares the electronic assignment on HRMS. Once the nomination has been approved, an offer letter (Word) is sent to the researcher/scholar. If the researcher/scholar is a foreign national and a DS-2019 will be requested for the researcher/scholar, a request should be made through the J-1 Online Request Form.

The visitor’s purpose of visit/benefit to the University should be stated on the requesting HRMS document in the Remarks section. At the time of renewal, an active visa is not a guarantee of acceptance into the designation as Research Affiliate and should not be interpreted as implicit continuation of the official designation.


  1. Follow the instructions provided by your college/school or department/unit for approval of this title, which include the creation and approval of the Research Affiliate position and assignment on the Human Resource Management System (HRMS).
  2. A clear statement of the purpose of the visit and benefit to the University should be kept on file.  We recommend also recording this in the HRMS “remarks” section.
  3. Background checks:  the Research Affiliate titles are considered  “security sensitive” and require that a background check be completed for each visitor.  An HR Contact for the hiring department can create a request in the online Background Check Administration (BCA) system and invite the applicant to authorize the check electronically.  If you prefer to give the applicant a paper form, you will ask the finalist to complete a Criminal Background Check Form. Note that a Visual Compliance check is also required for approval of the HRMS assignment.  Follow your college/school’s or department/unit’s internal procedures regarding these checks.
  4. If the visitor will be working on a sponsored project, contact Export Control Officer David Ivey ( for eligibility verification. Please review the Export Control website for information about export control regulations and how they affect research on campus – such as employing foreign nationals on projects, international travel, and shipping or taking items (e.g. laptops, software, and data) outside the U.S.
  5. If the nominee is a foreign national, complete a J-1 Online Request Form.
  6. The offer letter (Word) should only be issued to the visitor for signature after Visual Compliance has been completed and cleared. Note that a unit or department head is the signature authority on these letters.
  7. A copy of the signed offer letter should be kept on file by the host department, college or unit.
  8. If the visitor plans to work in a research laboratory, they must also complete the Release Agreement for Adults.  Guidelines for non-student, non-employee visitors in research laboratories, and the release form can be found at:

For continuation, amendment or extension of dates of Research Affiliate assignments, an incumbent document change must be submitted via an HRMS assignment change document. Extensions for international researchers/scholars on a DS-2019 will require an extension of the immigration document through the International Office. If there’s at least one year break in service,  a new background check will be required.  A new offer letter indicating continuation of assignment [sample offer letter for extension of assignment (Word)] will be required for the visitor.

Questions about the Research Affiliates may be directed to Terisha de la Cruz at the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Questions about immigration issues should be directed to or the International Office at 512-471-2477.