U.S. Research Scholar Visa Sponsorship

U.S. Research Scholar Visa Sponsorship


In confronting today’s most pressing research questions, global collaboration is critical. IREX supports foreign researchers, scientists, and academics to visit the United States for collaborative research and cultural exchange.

We do this as a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State’s BridgeUSA Exchange Program. With IREX’s assistance, eligible participants obtain “exchange visitor (J-1) visas” in the Research Scholar or Short-term Scholar program category. Participants then conduct research in their field, consult, or observe at U.S. host organizations for up to 5 years.

By opening access to share talent and confer around a common problem, IREX’s research exchanges are catalysts for innovation and international research efforts. American research institutes, companies, universities, museums, think tanks, libraries, and other businesses – across diverse industries and around the country – are among the organizations that partner with IREX to host visiting scholars. We welcome inquiries from prospective scholars and U.S. organizations that seek to work with IREX under this exchange program.

Learn How to Apply

Learn how IREX guides host organizations, immigration attorneys, and researchers through the application and J visa processes.

Questions? Contact an IREX visa expert by sending an e-mail to jvisaexchange@irex.org or calling 1-202-372-0821.

What Is the Exchange Visitor Program?

The U.S. Department of State’s BridgeUSA Exchange Program provides a suite of options for foreign nationals to experience the United States through temporary study or work-related objectives. Around 300,000 visitors from more than 200 countries visit the United States annually under the program.

Across all program activities, BridgeUSA promotes the exchange of ideas and increased mutual understanding between Americans and people from other countries. Closer ties between nations develop as exchange visitors return home and share their experiences.

What is a J-1 Visa Sponsor?

Sponsors are organizations and institutions appointed by the U.S. Department of State to vet and administer exchange programs. In some cases, the sponsoring entity (such as a university) also acts as the exchange visitor’s host.

What are J-1 Research Scholars and Short-Term Scholars?

Research Scholars and Short-Term Scholars are two research-focused exchange visitor categories for which IREX is a designated J-1 visa sponsor. They are designed to facilitate an exchange of knowledge, skills, and culture between scholars and institutions in the context of a research project or academic collaboration.

Exchange visitors and their U.S. counterparts report mutual benefits from the program, such as gaining cutting-edge skills, fresh perspectives on scientific problems, and lasting relationships with professionals, institutions, and laboratories around the world.

IREX facilitates a variety of opportunities for visiting scholars to:

  • Collaborate or consult as a guest scientist on long-term or short-term research projects.
  • Participate in postdoctoral programs, research-based training, or academic seminars.
  • Build linkages with U.S. research teams.
  • Teach a course while conducting research at an accredited U.S. college or university.


To qualify for a J-1 Research Scholar or Short-Term Scholar visa under IREX’s program, applicants must:

  • Be a researcher, professor, scientist, or other person who can demonstrate academic credentials, research experience, and/or contribution in a specific research field.
  • Be invited to participate in a visiting research program (conducting research, observing, or consulting on a project) in the applicant’s field at a qualified host organization. IREX is unable to provide placement services.
  • Possess sufficient English-language abilities to live in the U.S., engage with Americans, and be successful in the research exchange program.
  • Not be a candidate for a tenure-track or permanent position or intend to remain in the U.S. beyond 5 years.

Applicants who previously held a J visa during the past two years may have additional eligibility restrictions.

Who We Work With

IREX partners with established research institutes, companies, nonprofits, colleges, and other institutions that seek to host visiting scholars.


  • Eligible organizations include research institutions, corporate research facilities, museums, libraries, postsecondary accredited academic institutions, and similar institutions.
  • Prospective host organizations must articulate to IREX their capacity to host exchange visitors and offer a stimulating, mutually beneficial research program.
  • Host organizations must provide a U.S. cultural experience by inviting visiting scholars to local activities such as holiday celebrations, sporting or arts events, or community volunteering.
  • Site visits may be required at the application stage and/or during the program.


Our Visa Sponsorship Services

We make the process easy

By managing critical immigration responsibilities leading up to and during research exchange programs, IREX enables visiting researchers and their host organizations to focus on what matters: exchanging ideas to generate innovative solutions to contemporary problems.

IREX staff members are experts in J-1 visa regulations and experienced in advising diverse clients on the process and their responsibilities at each stage of the program.

IREX offers the following services:

  • Preapplication eligibility assessment
  • Streamlined online application system with option for expedited processing
  • Issuance of Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status) and J-1 visa application instructions to approved applicants
  • Orientation and online resources to support exchange visitors’ transition to the U.S.
  • Program monitoring, evaluation, and reporting required for federal compliance
  • Visa sponsorship of eligible family members of exchange visitors
  • Dedicated, responsive staff support, and after-hours emergency support

We recognize that immigration is complicated, which is why IREX staff members are continuously available to advise exchange visitors, accompanying family members, and their host organizations.

The IREX J-1 exchange has provided me with a dream opportunity to pursue cutting-edge research in the USA and collaborate with scientific leaders in the U.S. and world! J-Visa Participant from Australia



To contact a member of the IREX visa sponsorship team or to schedule a virtual meeting, please send an e-mail to jvisaexchange@irex.org.


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Led by the U.S. Department of State in partnership with organizations like IREX, BridgeUSA brings together current and emerging leaders through immersive cultural and professional exchange programs. Learn more about BridgeUSA ›