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Application & Guidelines

Application Process

Online applications for the Visiting Scholar and Visiting Researcher Program are accepted at two times during the year:  February 1 – March 31 and September 1 – October 31.  Complete applications will be reviewed at the close of each window. 

Application materials include an online form, curriculum vitae, research statement (2-4 pages), and two recommendations. We request that you demonstrate evidence of English language ability. Submission of TOEFL/IELTS is not mandatory. However, if you are not a native English speaker and do not submit scores, you will be asked to describe your English language ability in detail. The minimum English requirements for a J-1 Scholar visa can be found here.

Faculty Sponsors

All prospective visitors must have a faculty sponsor to be invited to participate in the program. The integration of visitors into the Penn Law community is important to the program, and faculty sponsors are meant to facilitate that goal. In the absence of a pre-existing relationship with a faculty member, applicants are asked not to contact faculty members directly. The Law School will match prospective scholars with interested faculty members during the application review process. If you are interested in working with a particular faculty member you may indicate that in your research statement.

Faculty sponsors are not expected to be research mentors or advisors, though individual faculty may choose to perform these functions. Instead, Penn faculty sponsors are asked to be available to welcome visitors when they arrive at Penn and assist them with introductions to other members of the faculty.

Program Logistics

Visiting Scholars and Researchers must arrive at the Law School at a mutually agreed upon date. Although not required, whenever possible, we encourage applicants to arrive at Penn at the beginning of our fall or spring term. Penn Law recommends that visitors plan to stay at the Law School for at least one month, though shorter stays will be considered on an individual basis. Visitors who wish to stay at Penn Law beyond one year can make a request to renew their status, but will not be allowed to remain at the Law School for more than two years.

Visitors will be provided with a Penn ID; an email account; library access; wireless computer network access; use of Lexis/Westlaw; and access to all general Law School events. With an instructor’s permission, Visiting Scholars and Researchers will be permitted to audit classes. As space allows, the Law School may be able to reserve limited work space for visitors at a dedicated carrel or small shared office. Visitors are responsible for confirming before arriving whether such space will be available to them.

Please note that the Law School does not reserve housing for Visiting Scholars or Visiting Researchers. We will provide resources to assist our accepted applicants in conducting their own housing searches, but regret that staff members cannot undertake a search on behalf of any individual.

Visiting Fees

For a 12-month visit, Visiting Scholars and Researchers are charged a visiting fee equal to 10% of Penn Law’s tuition. For longer or shorter stays, this fee is pro-rated on a monthly basis. For 2020-2021, the monthly visitor fee was $520 and there is a minimum one month stay. An additional, non-waivable technology fee of $900 will be charged for any stay of more than three months, with a fee of $450 charged for any stay of shorter length. View the Current Tuition Levels. Please note that tuition levels for the academic year are set the summer prior to the start of the year.

Immigration Issues

Once accepted into the program, the Law School will send Visiting Scholars and Visiting Researchers the necessary forms to obtain a J-1 visa. These forms should be returned as described in the accompanying instructions. Please note that immigration regulations require all foreign visitors to provide documentation of their ability to support themselves financially while in the United States. As of a recent date, regulations called for at least $1800 per month per visitor, plus an additional $800 per month for an accompanying spouse and $400 per month for an accompanying child. Updated financial requirements will be provided along with other materials upon a visitor’s acceptance into the program.