Visiting Researchers / Scholars
The information below includes the definition of a VRS, why a unit should register a VRS through the Office of Research, procedures for registration and other important information.
Important: Please note that visa sponsorship through UGA is a separate process through the Office of Global Engagement-Immigration Services. All visa questions should be directed to that office. Units hosting a foreign national VRS that will need a visa sponsored through UGA should initiate the visa process through Immigration Services as soon as possible. The visa process can be conducted in tandem with the VRS registration process and the UGAID is not required to start the visa sponsorship procedures.
Visiting Researcher and Visiting Scholar (VRS) refers to non-minor and non-high school visitors who are not UGA employees or enrolled students, are not contracted for services or performing a service, and are not a part of any other official program on campus, but are physically coming to UGA to visit with a UGA faculty member to observe or collaborate in research. A VRS must have a UGA Faculty Sponsor.
If a potential visitor meets the following criteria, he/she is considered a Visiting Researcher/Scholar or VRS:
- The non-minor/non-high school visitor is physically coming to any UGA campus.
- The visitor’s activities while being hosted by a UGA faculty member on any UGA campus include participating in or observing research.
- The visit is not part of any other official UGA program and the visit is not intended for the visitor to perform contracted services for UGA.
If you need assistance determining if your visitor is a Visiting Researcher/Scholar, consider taking the VRS Test or email email@example.com.
For each VRS, the Faculty Sponsor should initiate the hosting procedures described below in the Visiting Researcher/Scholar Hosting Procedures section. If at any time an individual who is already on campus meets any of the criteria above, then they are a VRS and the Faculty Sponsor should initiate the VRS process if they have not already done so.
Who is NOT a Visiting Researcher/Scholar:
- Persons that are not physically coming to visit a UGA campus.
- Minors and persons still enrolled in highschool. (A VRS must be at least at the undergraduate student level or above.)
- Short-term visitors who are not participating in research and will not need access to UGA facilities and services.
- Program Participants. Individuals who participate in an authorized campus sponsored academic program for a defined period. Included in this category are individuals participating in grant sponsored programs, fellowships, research projects or programs, and internships.
- Individuals currently enrolled at UGA for the current semester.
- Individuals compensated or contracted by UGA for expected work or services performed.
- Individuals that come onto campus as part of their regular work (for example, deliveries, contractors, etc.)
- Individuals provided a stipend through/by UGA.
- Adjunct faculty or others involved in formal instructional roles (support is offered by the Office of Faculty Affairs)
- Postdoctoral Research Scholars (support is offered by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs)
If you need further clarification as to whether your visitor qualifies as a VRS, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why should I register my VRS?
Through the UGA VRS registration procedures in the Office of Research, UGA visiting researchers and scholars will be assigned a UGAID and have appropriate “standing” at UGA.
Visitors registered with the Visiting Researcher/Scholar program will be assigned a UGAID (81x number). They can then acquire a UGACard to access services such as buses and building or lab access. Hosting units can request a MyID for the VRS and use this to access any necessary online training. Instructions on how to obtain a MyID and UGACard are included when the Office of Research transmits the assigned UGAID back to the Faculty Sponsor.
Registration through our office also helps ensure liability coverage and clarifies intellectual property agreements.
There are three distinct types of Visiting Researchers/Scholars that relate to the professional level of the visitor, and each type carries a maximum duration for the visit.
- Scholar in Residence. Visitors at the postdoctoral level or above who will be involved in temporary research or scholarship, independent or collaborative; a Scholar in Residence may stay in this role for up to 24 months.
- Visiting Graduate Student Researcher. Visitors at the graduate student level who are not enrolled at UGA and who are temporarily involved in research or scholarship, independent or collaborative; a Visiting Graduate Student Researcher may stay in this role for up to 24 months.
- Undergraduate Interns. Visitors at the undergraduate level who are not enrolled at UGA; an Undergraduate Intern may stay in this role for up to 12 months.
If a Faculty Sponsor wishes to extend the visit past the original visit end date or past the maximum visit duration for the VRS type, please see the “Instructions for Extension of Visit” section.
Important: Please note that visa sponsorship through UGA is a separate process through the Office of Global Engagement-Immigration Services. All visa questions should be directed to that office. Units hosting foreign national VRS that will need a visa sponsored through UGA should initiate the visa process through Immigration Services as soon as possible. The visa process can be conducted in tandem with the VRS registration process and the UGAID is not required to start the visa sponsorship procedures.
VRS Registration Procedure
- VISIT DETAILS: Visit details should first be agreed upon between the UGA faculty sponsor, the visitor, and the hosting UGA unit (via the unit head) before initiating the Office of Research VRS Registration Procedure.
- COLLECT REQUIRED DOCUMENTS: The faculty sponsor or staff proxy should obtain required documents from the visitor. See the Required Documents section below. The specific required documents will depend on the visitor’s employment status and citizenship status.
- COMPLETE VRS QUESTIONNAIRE: The faculty sponsor or staff proxy should complete VRS Questionnaire. The online VRS Questionnaire requires information about the visitor and their visit details. Save and return is not available, so have all information and required documents ready. Click here for a list of questions that appear on the VRS Questionnaire.
- Timeframe Guidelines for VRS Questionnaire Submission:
- Recommended timeframe to submit VRS Questionnaire: One month in advance of the visit start date to ensure timely processing.
- Maximum timeframe to submit VRS Questionnaire: Six months in advance. VRS questionnaires submitted more than six months in advance will be asked to resubmit within this maximum time frame from the visit start date.
- Preliminary Approval for VRS Questionnaires submitted two months or more in advance of the start date: Given that travel dates and itineraries have a greater chance of change this far in advance, questionnaires submitted over two months in advance of the visit start date will be given preliminary approval upon passing an eligibility review. Assignment of the UGAID will be placed on hold until visit dates are confirmed within two months prior to the visit start date.
- See 5a. and 5b. for final approval and registration information.
- Timeframe Guidelines for VRS Questionnaire Submission:
- FACULTY SPONSOR CERTIFICATION: Upon submission of the questionnaire, the faculty sponsor will receive an email copy of the submitted information. Before Office of Research can proceed with reviewing and processing the registration request, the Faculty Sponsor must certify the information in the VRS Questionnaire by replying to this email. Additionally, a copy of the questionnaire will be emailed to the unit head and the listed staff contact.
- OFFICE OF RESEARCH REVIEW AND FINAL REGISTRATION: Office of Research staff will collect and review the questionnaire. If there are no questions or concerns regarding the questionnaire Office of Research will assign and send the visitor’s UGAID to the staff contact as soon as possible. Final Approval and Registration:
- Those that received preliminary approval will be given final approval and registration when the visit start date is within two months and visit start date confirmation is received from the Faculty Sponsor/staff. (Important: Visit date changes that occur at any time should be communicated to the Office of Research via email@example.com.)
- Final registration includes the UGAID (81X number) and other important information. This will be sent via email to the Faculty Sponsor, the staff contact and the VRS.
- VRS ONBOARDING PACKET: Office of Research staff will create and send a VRS OnBoarding packet soon after the UGAID is assigned. It is the sponsoring unit’s responsibility to ensure the visitor completes the VRS OnBoarding module soon after they arrive on campus. It is also the Faculty Sponsor’s responsibility to ensure that the VRS completes any needed Lab Safety Training.
- REVIEW IMPORTANT VRS INFO: The Faculty Sponsor and staff contact should review the “Other Important VRS Information” section.
The following two documents are required to complete the VRS Questionnaire:
1. Visitor Agreement: ALL VRS must sign a visitor agreement in order to be registered with the Office of Research VRS program. Other documents (travel approvals, funding letters from home institutions, etc) are not acceptable in lieu of a signed visitor agreement. You will choose one of the following 3 options for the agreement. (Please note: After signatures are obtained on the agreement, the individual signing as VRS remains subject to additional review and processing. The individual’s signature on this document is not a guarantee that VRS status will be conferred. VRS status is effective only with the issuance of a UGAID.)
- IF the visitor is employed by, enrolled in, or associated with any university, company, or government organization, they should sign the Standard Visitor Agreement with Employer/Institution Signature.
- IF the visitor is not employed by, enrolled in, or associated with any university, company, or government organization, they should sign the Standard Visitor Agreement – No Employer/Institution.
- IF the visitor or visitor’s institution requests a custom agreement instead of the Standard Visitor Agreement, please contact Dr. Derek Eberhart, Executive Director, Innovation Gateway (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please indicate the rationale for proposed changes to the Standard Agreement as well as other pertinent information, e.g. the funding source for the research to be conducted at UGA. Once the custom agreement has been finalized, please forward the email chain with the custom agreement arrangement to email@example.com. The resulting signed custom visitor agreement should be uploaded when completing the VRS Questionnaire.
2. Citizenship-based Document:
- IF the visitor is a US citizen/permanent resident of the United States, then a background investigation approval is required. The sponsor must initiate a background investigation by requesting the visitor complete the UGA Human Resources Background Check Request Form. The form is submitted to University Human Resources (HR) to conduct the background investigation. HR will return the background investigation result to the unit, and it is this result that should be uploaded to the VRS Questionnaire.
- IF the visitor is a non-U.S. citizen/non-permanent resident, please obtain a scan of his/her passport. The passport is required to assign a UGAID to non-U.S. citizens/non-permanent residents.
|UGAID||Your UGA identification number begins with 81. It’s used instead of your Social Security number to access personal data. Your UGA ID number appears on the back of your UGACard.|
|MyID||Your MyID is the username that’s required to log in to a number of online university resources and other functions.|
|UGA Card||Your UGA card is a physical card and gives you access to various UGA buildings and programs. You acquire your UGA Card at the UGA Card Office.|
Other important VRS information after the hosting procedures are completed:
- Once the UGAID has been assigned, the visitor can set up a UGA MyID through the Sponsoring Unit Staff Contact. The visitor will use the MyID to access a wide range of online services at UGA.
- Upon arrival on campus, one of the first actions by the visitor should be acquisition of a UGACard, using the visitor’s UGAID. This must be done in person at the UGACard office in the Tate Center. This card will provide the visitor with access to various other services (including buses).
- The visitor can apply for library access.
Office of Research expects the Sponsoring Unit to assist the VRS with the following items:
- The Staff Contact and Faculty Sponsor should assist with housing arrangements. Housing arrangements may take different forms, depending on the needs of the visitor and family. See this section for a link to Apartment Finder and a list of hotels in Athens.
- The Staff Contact and Faculty Sponsor should also help arrange family support. A visitor who is coming with family may need help with issues such as schools, transportation, language, banking, etc.
- The Staff Contact should assist them in MyID creation and it is the responsibility of the Faculty Sponsor and Sponsoring Unit to ensure his/she completes OnBoarding.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR EXTENSION OF VISIT FOR AN EXISTING VRS
If a Faculty Sponsor has an existing VRS and wishes to extend the visit past the original visit end date or past the maximum visit duration for the VRS type, please send a request for extension with explanation/justification of the situation to firstname.lastname@example.org. The justification must include:
- Time-frame of extension
- Source of support for the visiting researcher/scholar’s living expenses during the extension period. If the person will be leaving campus and collaborating remotely: Explain the nature of the remote access (from where will the person be accessing UGA systems, etc.). PLEASE NOTE: The VRS Program is not for remote collaborations, but access extensions for existing VRSs once they leave campus may be granted through this program for a limited time (usually no more than 6 months) to help facilitate certain needs.
- List the facilities and/or UGA systems that the visitor will need to access (please be specific).
- The activities of the visiting researcher/scholar during the extension period.
- Will the visitor be involved in a research project that is externally funded through UGA (for example, working on the Faculty Sponsor’s research project that is funded by NSF).
- Provide a brief statement of justification describing the value of the visit for both the host and visitor.
Should the extension be approved, Office of Research will request the visiting researcher/scholar’s UGAID be reactivated. Extensions are for a maximum of 12 months at a time.
Note that an individual is considered a visiting researcher/scholar, and subject to the terms of his/her Visiting Researcher Agreement, throughout the full period of any extension, whether the VRS is working on a UGA campus or remotely through UGAID access.
If a faculty sponsor has a previous VRS returning to campus, the VRS’s access may be reinstated without submitting a new VRS Questionnaire if the following eligibility criteria are met and a justification is submitted via this Returning VRS Request Form:
- The returning visitor must still fit the definition of a VRS
- The scope of the returning visit must be the same as the previous visit
- The faculty sponsor must be the same as the previous visit
- Must be within 1 year of leaving the previous visit and must be within 3 years of completing the full VRS registration.
- The home institution/employer of the visitor must be the same as the initial/previous visit in which the visitor signed the Visitor Agreement.
The request form includes:
- VRS name and/or tracking number from initial visit
- VRS DOB, Gender listed on government issued document and, if applicable, passport number and country.
- Faculty Sponsor name
- New visit dates for the time they will be on campus
- Confirmation that the access needed is the same as the last visit (ex. Campus, building, labs, UGA systems requiring a MyID, etc)
- Confirm that the agreement terms, VRS’s home institution, and the scope of the returning visit are the same as the previous visit (ex. Is their role the same?)
- Confirm that the Faculty Sponsor/Hosting Unit has contacted the Office of Global Engagement-Immigration Services if applicable.
Returning visits activated for a max of 12 months at a time.
- Office of Research Visiting Researcher/Scholar Coordination, email@example.com, 706-542-5927
- Office of International Education-Immigration Services (IS), 706-542-2900
- EITS Helpdesk, firstname.lastname@example.org, 706-542-3106
- Human Resources, email@example.com, 706-542-2222