OGE – Office of International Programs

University of Mississippi

Basic Overview of Sponsorship and Academic Training Options

Visas for international faculty and academic staff at the University of Mississippi are processed through the Office of International Programs. This summary of visa sponsorship guidelines constitutes both federal regulations and institutional policy. Sometimes there are exceptions to the guidelines, and other visa options (B-1, J-2, F-1, O-1, etc.) may exist. For more information about visas and faculty appointments, contact the Office of International Programs.

J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

The J-1 category is for persons who are coming to the U.S. for a short-term program in a variety of different areas: study, long-term research, short-term research, teaching, training, as well as a few other categories. The University of Mississippi authorizes documents only for professors, research scholars, specialists, and students. The SEVIS DS-2019 is the document issued by the Office of International Programs to any person approved by the University of Mississippi for a J-1 program. The Application for J-1 Visiting Scholar form is for applicants in all J-1 categories other than student.

It is important to note that the J-program is a temporary program and that J-Visa holders should have no immigrant intent (i.e. no intention to become permanent residents). This visa category should not be used by departments or internationals for permanent employment positions or to seek Permanent Residency in the United States.

The J Exchange Visitor classification authorized by I.N.A. § 101(a)(15)(J) was developed to implement the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (Fulbright-Hayes Act) of 1961 [Public Law 87-256, as amended, 22 U.S.C. § 2451, et seq.]. The overall purpose of that Act and the objective of the Exchange Visitor classification is “to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges.” The Department of State issues J-Visas and establishes and administers the federal regulations and policies governing the J Exchange Visitor Program.

For more information about the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, visit the J-1 page.

H-1B Sponsorship

The H-1B category is for persons who are coming to the U.S. to be temporary workers in a specialty occupation. To be considered eligible for H-1B, the position must require at least a Bachelor’s degree. Employment approval is granted through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and is job specific as well as employer and department specific.

The H-1B status may be granted initially for up to a three-year period with a maximum total stay of six years. Workers in this category can fill permanent positions, but must leave the country at the end of their authorized period of stay.

A person in H-1B status is considered to have dual-intent with regards to immigration. This means that while in H-1B status, workers may file for a change to another immigration category. H-1B is often the category used while in the process of applying for U.S. permanent residency.

For more information about UM H-1B sponsorship, visit the H-1B page.

TN Sponsorship

The TN (Trade NAFTA) category was developed as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), to facilitate the entry of Canadian and Mexican citizens to the United States to engage in professional business activities on a temporary basis. The TN category allows for admission of individuals for the purposes of working for a U.S. employer as a professional or working for a foreign employer (including even a non-Canadian or non-Mexican employer) to provide pre-arranged professional services to a U.S. employer.

Only occupations specified in Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA treaty can serve as the basis for TN employment. Appendix 1603.D.1 also stipulates the minimum qualifications for entry into the U.S. in each occupation. A list of requirements for each occupation can be found here: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1274.html.

Both Canadian and Mexican citizens can be admitted to the United States in TN status in increments of up to one year. Extensions of stay are also granted in up to one-year increments. There is no cumulative total limit on the time a Canadian or Mexican citizen can be in TN status. Status can be renewed each year indefinitely, provided that the stay remains temporary in nature.

There are two basic ways for Canadian and Mexican citizens to process the TN: apply for the TN Visa in their home country or apply for a change-of-status to TN within the United States.

For more information about UM H-1B sponsorship, visit the TN page.

Optional Practical Training/Curricular Practical Training (OPT/CPT) and Academic Training

Practical training options are available to persons in F-1 student status, and academic training is available for persons in J-1 student status..

F-1 Practical Training

There are two kinds of practical training available to F-1 Students: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

CPT, refers to employment that is “an integral part of an established curriculum,” which may include internship, co-op education, or work/study alternative, and it must be a requirement for graduation. OPT, allows international students to be temporarily employed to gain practical experience in the student’s major area of study, and may be part- or full- time, and pre- or post-completion of the academic program.

J-1 Academic Training

Academic training refers to work, training, or experience that is related to a J-1 student’s field of study. Academic training is permitted at any stage of a student’s program, either while the student is enrolled in school or after the completion date of the academic program.

For more information about OPT/CPT and Academic Training options, visit the Practical and Academic Training page.

Permanent Residency

Permanent Residency, also known as the Green Card, is an immigrant visa status. There are many different paths to obtaining Permanent Residency, but the University of Mississippi can petition for only specific employment-based categories.

The categories of Permanent Residence which are sponsored by the University of Mississippi are: EB-1 Outstanding Researcher/Professor, EB-2 Advanced Degree Holders, EB-2 Exceptional Ability in the Science, Arts, or Business, and EB-3 Professional or Skilled Worker.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Only the University of Mississippi, Office of International Programs can process permanent residency petitions that are based on university employment. University employees MAY NOT hire an immigration attorney or self-petition for EB-1 Outstanding Researcher/Professor, EB-2 Advanced Degree Holders, EB-2 Exceptional Ability in the Science, Arts, or Business, or EB-3 Professional or Skilled Worker. All employment-based options must be filed with OIP and the university’s designated legal counsel.

      For more information about UM-sponsored Permanent Residency, visit the

Permanent Residency page