Visiting Scholars Program

To be considered for a visiting appointment beginning in the Fall (July through December), please apply during the January 1 through March 1 submission period.  To be considered for a visiting appointment beginning in the Spring (January through June), please apply during the June 1 through August 1 submission period.  We are unable to accept applications outside of the submission periods.

Our Program

Berkeley Law’s Visiting Scholars Program (the “Program”) is proud to host scholars and researchers from around the world to engage in both independent and collaborative legal research.  The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) is recognized internationally as the epicenter of research.  The Program has promoted the exchange of ideas, education, and culture.  Our scholars and researchers at the law school currently represent about 15 countries.  Our mission is to provide an opportunity for scholars and researchers to experience a transformative immersion in the study of law.  Our campus partners include the Visiting Scholar and Postdoc Affairs (VSPA) Office, the Berkeley International Office (BIO), the Center for the Study of Law and Society, the Institute for Legal Research, and the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies.

Visiting Statuses

Prospective candidates may apply to participate in the Program either as a visiting scholar or as a visiting student researcher

To qualify as a visiting scholar, an applicant must hold a doctorate degree (preferably in the field of law) and/or a terminal-level degree sufficient for one to be able to practice law in their country.  The degree must be earned at least five years prior to the time of the applicant’s proposed appointment start date.  If one is seeking to carry out their postdoctoral studies at Berkeley Law, they may be considered for exceptional visiting scholar status with the proper documentation.  Please e-mail visitingscholars@law.berkeley.edu for a consultation if you are in this situation.

To qualify as a visiting student researcher, an applicant must be enrolled in a doctorate degree program (preferably in the field of law) and/or a terminal-level degree program sufficient for one to be able to practice law in their country upon graduation.

The University’s definitions of the two visiting statuses can be found here.

Visiting scholars and visiting student researchers are formally considered UC Berkeley affiliates/non-employees.

Privileges and Responsibilities

All applicants accepted to the Program are considered “in residence” and are expected to conduct their proposed research on the UC Berkeley campus.  All affiliates must reside in Berkeley or surrounding cities in the Bay Area during the duration of their appointment period.  In addition, all affiliates are expected to carry out their proposed research for the entire duration of their appointment period.

Privileges include (but are not limited to):

  • Access to UC Berkeley’s libraries (including the law library and the law school’s Reading Room)
  • Access to electronic systems and resources (via a CalNet account)
  • Issuance of a Berkeley e-mail account
  • Issuance of a Cal ID card
  • Access to shared workrooms exclusively for visiting scholars and visiting student researchers (due to space constraints, we are unable to provide private offices) and private lockers
  • Access to electronic legal documents via LexisNexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law databases
  • The ability to audit (for no credit) one course at the law school per semester per the instructor’s approval (non-law school courses are not available to audit). 

These privileges are granted shortly after the required onboarding meeting with the Director, which must occur within seven days of the affiliates’ appointment start date.

Affiliates are encouraged to participate in the law school’s and University’s scholarly life and programs, which include a large number of presentations, conferences, and other events that are open to attend throughout the year.  The calendar of events at the law school can be found here.  The calendar of events at the University can be found here.  Affiliates are also encouraged to participate in the programs and events sponsored by the VSPA Office and BIO.

Admission Process

The process to be granted visiting status is two-fold: (1) approval by the department (Berkeley Law) and (2) authorization by the University (VSPA Office).

Berkeley Law Approval

To be considered for a visiting appointment beginning in the Fall (July through December), please apply during the January 1 through March 1 submission period.  To be considered for a visiting appointment beginning in the Spring (January through June), please apply during the June 1 through August 1 submission period.  We are unable to accept applications outside of the submission periods.

To apply to Berkeley Law’s Visiting Scholars Program, please complete the online application form (please contact us at visitingscholars@law.berkeley.edu if you have trouble accessing the form).  You will be required to upload three supporting documents:

  1. A one-page statement that describes your proposed research agenda and explains the significance of conducting your research at Berkeley Law.  Please format the document with one-inch page margins, Times New Roman 12 point font, and single-spaced paragraphs.
  2. Your curriculum vitae/resume, which should include at minimum the following information:
    1. Education background: dates of attendance (month/year format), including the date (month/year format) the degree was awarded/will be awarded; type of degree awarded/to be awarded; institution name and location; major; and type of degree
    2. Employment history: dates (month/year format); institution name and location; title; and job duties
    3. List of memberships and awards (if applicable)
    4. List of scholarly publications (if applicable)
  3. A confirmation letter (e-mail format is acceptable) from a Berkeley Law faculty member (tenure or tenure-track professor) who has agreed to be your faculty sponsor.  The letter should specify your proposed visiting appointment start date and end date (month/day/year format) to establish that the faculty sponsor will be present/in residence and has agreed to be available to you during your proposed visiting appointment period.  Please note that your faculty sponsor’s expertise must align with your area(s) of research.  A confirmation from a faculty member does not mean you have been accepted to join the Visiting Scholars Program.  Our prestigious faculty receive many requests for sponsorship and unfortunately can not accept all.

Please do not upload additional documentation (e.g., letters of recommendation, transcripts, funding documentation, English language proficiency documentation, and so forth).  It is important that an applicant properly follow the guidelines above.  One’s ability to properly submit an application is a factor when considering his/her candidacy.  Furthermore, incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Applicants who are currently (or will be) in J-1 status at another institution and would like to transfer his/her program to UC Berkeley must consult with BIO (jscholar@berkeley.edu) to confirm eligibility before applying.  Similarly, non-U.S. citizen/lawful permanent resident applicants must consult with BIO if they wish to change their visa status (e.g., F-2 to J-1) before applying.

The law school’s minimum visiting appointment length is two months.  Visiting appointments are granted up to one year at a time, with the option to request an extension for up to one additional year.  Please note that UC Berkeley sponsored J-1 Exchange Visitors may not begin their appointments in the month of December.

Applications are initially screened by the Director.  During this time, a brief and informal phone interview will take place between the Director and the applicant.  After the screening process, applications receive a final review by the law school faculty.  Applicants are typically notified of the admission decision within 30 days from receipt of their complete application.  The number of applications we receive far exceeds the number of visiting scholars and visiting student researchers the law school can accommodate.  Furthermore, we do not reconsider applicants, nor do we provide reasoning as to an unfavorable admission decision.

VSPA Authorization

Once an applicant receives department approval, their visiting appointment must be authorized by the VSPA Office.  The process to obtain authorization will be administered by the Director upon the admittee’s payment of the University Services Fee (see “Program Fees” section below).

J Visa for International Exchange Visitors

Most international (non-U.S. citizen/lawful permanent resident) visitors will need to obtain a J-1 visa to pursue their research appointment at Berkeley Law.  J-1 and J-2 visas are obtained by the issuance of a Form DS-2019 document, also known as the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status.  J-2 visas can be granted to legally married spouses and children (unmarried and under the age of 21) of J-1 Exchange Visitors who will accompany or later join the J-1 Exchange Visitor in the U.S.  The Form DS-2019 document is produced by BIO once an admittee completes the DS-2019 application.  Instructions to the DS-2019 application will be e-mailed to admittees shortly after their visiting appointment is authorized by the VSPA Office.  Processing of the DS-2019 application can take around four weeks or longer if more information is needed.  Please carefully review the requirements

All UC Berkeley sponsored J-1 Exchange Visitors must attend the Scholar Information Meeting (SIM) within 2 weeks of his/her arrival in order to verify and authorize their DS-2019 document(s).

According to U.S. government regulations, J visa holders may not arrive more than 30 days before the program start date shown on his/her DS-2019.  Upon completion of his/her exchange program, he/she has a grace period of 30 days to depart the U.S.

Furthermore, to properly and legally maintain your J-1 Exchange Visitor status, please read the tips here.

Program Fees

VSPA University Services Fee: Every affiliate is required to pay a main campus fee to the VSPA office.  The fee for visiting scholars is $750 and the fee for visiting student researchers is $1,000.  The fee amounts can not be prorated.

Berkeley Law Residence Fee: Every affiliate is required to pay a fee to the law school.  The fee amounts vary depending on status, length of appointment, and date application was received.  The fee amounts can not be prorated.

  Up to 6 Months 6 Months to 1 Year
Visiting Scholar

$3,500 

$7,000 

Visiting Student Researcher

$750 

$1,500 

DS-2019 Fee: UC Berkeley sponsored J visa applicants must pay a $600 fee.  To clarify, $500 goes to BIO for processing the DS-2019 application and producing the Form DS-2019 document(s) needed to secure a J visa and $100 is for the FedEx International Priority shipping costs and other Program incidental/administrative expenses.  Upon completion of the DS-2019 application, the Form DS-2019 document is produced by BIO within 10 business.  If needed, one may expedite the process by paying a $250 fee in addition to the $600 base fee.  The Form DS-2019 document(s) would then be produced within 5 business days.  J visa applicants are also required to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee and visa application (DS-160) fee.  If your visa is approved, you may also need to pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality.

Funding

All visiting scholars and visiting student researchers regardless of immigrant status must provide their own funding.  We are unable to provide financial assistance.  For UC Berkeley sponsored visas, the minimum monthly funding requirement for a J-1 Exchange Visitor is $1,800. The minimum monthly funding requirement for a J-2 dependent is $500 for the spouse and $300 for each child. Funding sources can include employer, academic institution, government, awards, and personal and private sponsors. 

Health Insurance

All affiliates and UC Berkeley sponsored J-2 dependents are required to maintain the health insurance requirements outlined by the VSPA Office and BIO.  It is strongly advised that the insurance plan includes medical evacuation and repatriation benefits.

Questions

Please address all questions regarding the Visiting Scholars Program to visitingscholars@law.berkeley.edu.

Page last updated on December 5, 2019.