Visiting Scholars

Selection Criteria

The Institute accepts visiting scholars who are pursuing a research project on South Asia that is transnational, border-crossing, or comparative in nature. We welcome  applications from active academic researchers and university faculty members. Applicants are expected to hold advanced academic degrees. The Institute also welcomes applications from individuals with experience in government service, business or professional fields who are likely to benefit from interactions with research scholars. Current PhD students may apply for affiliation as a Visiting Student Researcher. These opportunities however are limited and are offered only in connection with current Institute initiatives or research projects. Furthermore, each visiting scholar must be nominated by a UC Berkeley faculty member.

ISAS Visiting Scholars are independent researchers while in residence at Berkeley. Visiting Scholars enjoy full access to Berkeley libraries and electronic resources and receive an e-mail account for use during their stay. They may be invited to present or otherwise take part in seminars or conferences organized by the ISAS. Visiting Scholars are welcome to attend all announced scholarly events on campus. Classroom participation as an auditor is subject to the approval of individual faculty members. All Visiting Scholars are asked to submit a final report on the outcome of their research affiliation. The ISAS appreciates copies of publications or papers completed during a visitor's affiliation with the Institute.

Please note that office space may be available on a first come, first served basis.

Application Procedures

A complete application consists of:

  • Cover letter/letter of introduction (in English)
  • Research proposal addressing the following:
    • Title of proposed project while in residence at Berkeley
    • Description of research project and plan of research
    • Research goals during period of affiliation
    • Brief statement on how affiliation with the Institute will help you accomplish these goals or further your career development
    • Proposed arrival date and length of stay
  • Name and contact information for Faculty Sponsor at UC Berkeley
  • Curriculum vitae (in English)

Special Requirements for International Visitors

  • Visas: Non-U.S. citizens will apply for a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa sponsored by UC Berkeley. Visiting researchers receive a J-1 visa and their spouse and dependents receive J-2 visas. The Institute will serve as the official host department and sponsor for the J-1 visa and campus affiliation. Visiting researchers may not initiate the visa application process until their appointment has been officially approved by the Institute's Director and by the UC Berkeley Visiting Scholar & Postdoc Affairs Office (VSPA). NOTE: Visa processing requires a minimum of 3-6 months. Scholars should NOT make any travel arrangements until after the visa is approved and issued.
  • Proof of Funding: The Institute does not provide funding for visiting scholars/researchers it agrees to host. Applicants must submit documentation verifying and detailing funding for the entire period of their desired affiliation. If funding documentation is not in English, the applicant should provide a translation. NOTE that minimum funding requirements for issuance of United States visa are as follows:
    • Minimum $1,800 per month for scholar
    • Plus additional $500 per month for spouse
    • Plus additional $300 per month for dependent child
  • Proof of Health Insurance: All international visiting scholars on the UC Berkeley campus are required to have medical insurance that meets the University's minimum coverage requirements, either through the UC Berkeley Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan or from another insurer. Please refer to the VSPA Health Insurance & Benefits page for more information.
  • English language proficiency: UC Berkeley requires all international scholars to provide proof of English language proficiency (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS, or signed documentation from an approved English language school). Upon verification, a confirmation of demonstrated proficiency in English can be issued by the IES Director. Visiting researchers cannot rely on staff support for translation services.

Once all fees have been paid and secondary application materials have been received, the Institute will process the applicant's DS-2019 which will allow him/her to go to the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy to apply for the J-1 (Visiting Scholar) visa.

After receipt of the DS-2019 and related materials, applicants are required to pay a one-time U.S. government Homeland Security processing fee. Instructions on how to pay this fee will be sent to applicants with the DS-2019. Once this fee has been paid, applicants will then contact the local Consulate or Embassy to apply for the J-1 visa. Usually an interview with the American authorities is required to secure the J-1 visa.

Program Fees:

  • VSPA University Services Fee: $ 750 for Visiting Scholars / $1,000 for Visiting Student Researchers This fee applies to all Visiting Researchers and is required by the University’s Visiting Scholar and Postdoc Affairs office (VSPA) to obtain a university ID card and gain access to campus facilities and resources. More details here.
  • DS-2019 Processing Fee (for international J-1 scholars only): $650 This non-refundable fee is for the Berkeley International Office (BIO), which produces the DS-2019 form required to obtain the J-1 visa. It must be paid to the Institute in U.S. dollars prior to arrival in Berkeley.
  • U.S. Government Visa Fees (for international J-1 scholars only) Visa fees are paid directly to the U.S. government (Consulate/Embassy) and are subject to change without notice. Please refer to the U.S. Department of State website for the most up-to-date fee schedules.
  • ISAS Administrative Fee: $1500 per 6-months. 

Once an invited Visiting Scholar has the visa in hand and travel plans scheduled, she/he should inform the Institute of her/his arrival dates and to schedule an appointment to complete the arrival forms required by the US government.

If you have specific questions regarding the ISAS Visiting Scholars Program, please e-mail or visit the following websites: