Visiting Scholars Program

Professor Group picture Group in Seoul Laurent Mayali award Seoul 2

In the News

The Berkeley Law Visiting Scholars Program helps broaden the school’s international connections as well as the influence of its faculty on the legal and scholarly communities around the world, Professor Laurent Mayali says.

11/28/2023 – Berkeley Law News

Visiting Scholars Program Offers ‘Life-Changing Experience’ to International Legal Researchers

To read the article, click here. A shorter version will be in the Spring 2024 issue of Transcript.

The Fall 2024 application submission period is over. 

If you are interested in applying for the visiting scholar or visiting student researcher position in Spring 2025, our next admission submission period is between June 1, 2024, and August 1, 2024.

Our Program
The Visiting Scholars Program grants the opportunity for law academics and practitioners from around the world to pursue independent research while in residence.  Program participants are granted basic access to campus resources to fulfill research objectives and are encouraged to participate in the Law School’s scholarly life and academic programs.

To qualify as a Visiting Scholar, an applicant must possess a doctorate degree.  The doctorate degree must be earned at least five years prior to the time of the applicant’s proposed appointment start date. 

We will also consider those with only a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree if they are licensed to practice law in their home country and currently do not enroll in any courses or degree programs. The applicant must also have a full-time position at another institution before applying for the visiting scholar position.

All visiting scholars must provide their own funding, and we cannot offer financial assistance. Given inflation and the increasing cost of living in the Bay Area, the minimum funding requirement for J exchange visitors will be increasing effective August 1, 2022. For cases submitted to Berkeley International Office on 8/1/2022 or later, the minimum monthly funding requirement will be $2000 for the J-1 + $600 for a J-2 spouse + $400 for each J-2 child. Additional information about funding documentation is available on our website.

Terms of Appointment

  • The law school’s minimum visiting appointment length is two months.  Visitors are appointed for periods not to exceed 12 months at a time. The total period of consecutive service with a visiting title shall not exceed two years and counts toward the service limitation explained in general UC policy.

  • The Berkeley Law Visiting Scholars Program official will review each application and extension request case by case; approval of an appointment or an extension request is not guaranteed.

  • According to the U.S. Department of State guidance, most activities should be physically onsite. During the visit, one to two telework days are allowed weekly.

Privileges and Responsibilities
Visiting scholars are considered “in residence” and are expected to conduct their proposed research on the UC Berkeley campus.  Visiting scholars must reside in Berkeley or the surrounding cities in the Bay Area during the duration of their appointment period.  In addition, visiting scholars are expected to carry out their proposed research for the entire duration of their appointment period.

Privileges include:

  • 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 (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

Visiting scholars 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.  Visiting scholars are also encouraged to participate in the programs and events sponsored by the VSPA Office and BIO.

Admission Process and Berkeley Law Approval

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

Application Submission Period and Supporting Documents
– To be considered for a visiting scholar appointment for Fall 2024 (August to November), please submit an online application between January 1, 2024, and March 1, 2024.
– To be considered for a visiting scholar appointment for Spring 2025 (January to April), please submit an online application between June 1, 2024, and August 1, 2024.

We do not review applications on a rolling basis. Admission decisions will be determined in late March or early April 2024 (for Fall 2024) and late August or early September 2024 (for Spring 2025). We have a strict application deadline policy and do not accept late applications.

To apply, please complete the online application form.  You will be required to upload the following supporting documents:

  • Faculty Sponsor Agreement

    – To request sponsorship from a faculty member, the applicant must provide the faculty member with a copy of their CV/resume and research statement.  If the faculty member agrees to the request for sponsorship, the applicant and faculty sponsor must complete two Faculty Sponsor Agreement forms.  One is for Berkeley Law Visiting Scholars Program, and the other is for Berkeley International Office.

    – The applicant is responsible for submitting the completed Faculty Sponsor Agreement forms to their online application. 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.

  • CV/resume
  • A one-page statement that describes your proposed research agenda and explains the significance of conducting your research at Berkeley Law.  
  • A Signed “Visiting Scholar / Visiting Student Researcher Agreement
  • A receipt of the application fee

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.

Admission Decisions

  • The Berkeley Law Visiting Scholars Program determines admission or reappointment decisions; please note that an acceptance email from the hosting department will detail next steps in the admission process. A confirmation from a professor, or emails from other departments does not signify that an applicant has been formally accepted to the Visiting Scholars Program.

  • No person may be appointed as a visitor if they have an active appointment or current employment with the University of California.

  • The number of applications we receive far exceeds the number of visiting scholars the law school can accommodate. We cannot reconsider applications once rejected, and admissions decisions are final and non-negotiable.

  • We cannot provide justification to individual applicants in the case of unfavorable admission decisions.

Conditions of Appointment

  • Visiting Scholars are considered guests of the University. Service as a Visiting Scholar or Visiting Student Researcher is neither employment nor enrollment as a student at the University of California. 1) A Visitor will not have employment (including as a contractor), including a teaching appointment with the University of California. 2) A Visitor will not be a current UC student.

  • As non-employees, J1 and J2 visa holders are not entitled to salary, stipend, compensation, benefits, housing, full-time, or part-time positions during the visit period.

  • Research Scholars are accepted for the conducting of their own research. Berkeley Law does not offer scholars an option to teach an elective course. 

  • The U.S. Department of State indicated that Visiting scholars / Visiting Student Researchers can only audit (for no credit) ONE course that is incidental to their primary objective research at the law school per semester per instructor approval (non-law school courses are not available to audit). Visiting Scholars must e-mail the course instructor(s) asking for permission. Permission may or may not be granted depending on enrollment size and room capacity. Once the instructor(s) approves, Visiting Scholars can begin auditing the course and are eligible to join the bCourse, if applicable. Please note that these guidelines apply to Visiting Scholars only. All other auditing requests must be directed to

  • The Visiting Scholars Program is not a scholarship or fellowship program; there are no forms of awards or funding for scholars to conduct research at Berkeley Law. We will also not assist the applicants/scholars in applying for scholarships or managing the grant for the visitors.
  • Upon completing the Visiting Scholar / Visiting Student Researcher appointment, the individual cannot be appointed as a postdoctoral fellow or postdoctoral fellow research associate.

  • Budgetary restraints prohibit us from providing scholars with copying or secretarial services.

  • Program alterations will be posted on the website as they occur.

Visiting Scholar Symposium

  • All admitted VSP scholars will be expected to attend a VSP Symposium where they will present a short paper based on their research project. The VSP Symposium will take place at Berkeley Law once a year and last a full day. Visiting Scholars should provide a draft of their paper to their faculty sponsor for review or comments within two to four weeks prior to the event. The date of the event will be announced on the Visiting Scholars website at the beginning of the Academic Year.

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. 

All applicants must meet specific requirements to be eligible for the Visiting Scholar or Visiting Student Researcher position. After an international applicant is accepted to the School of Law, it would be best to submit the online application and required documents as soon as possible once admitted to the program since obtaining the J visa can range from 2-6 months. The host department will submit the applicant’s information and supporting documents to the Berkeley International Office for J-1 exchange visitor eligibility and processing the Form DS-2019. Click here for more information on the J-1 Exchange Visitor process.

According to U.S. government regulations, J visa holders may not arrive more than 30 days before the program start date shown on the DS-2019. Upon completion of the exchange program, the scholar 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.

SIM Meeting

All international scholars must participate in orientation regarding immigration regulations, travel, employment, resources for families, health insurance, and other practical information. The mandatory orientation will be in a webinar format until further notice.

Self-Report via J Scholar Portal

To comply with federal arrival reporting requirements, all international scholars must self-report their arrival via the J Scholar Portal within nine days of the DS-2019 start date.

If the scholar’s arrival is delayed, please contact the officials at visiting scholar program at and J scholar at with the following information.

  • Email us within nine days of the J-1 program start date if the scholar’s arrival is delayed or continued and new anticipated arrival plans. An amended DS-2019 may be needed for entry to the U.S.

  • If the scholar is experiencing visa delays, please forward the communication about the delay.

  • If the scholar’s visa application is undergoing administrative processing, please indicate the date and location of their visa appointment and forward any documentation they received from the embassy.

Program Fees

Application Fee: Effective June 1, 2022, a non-refundable application fee of US$250 is required for applying to the Berkeley Law Visiting Scholars Program. The non-refundable reappointment application fee is US$125 (up to 6 months) and US$250 (up to 1 year).  

VSPA University Services Fee: Program participants are required to pay a main campus fee to the VSPA office. 
1. Visiting Scholar Position – the fee is $750 (up to 1 year)
2. Visiting Student Researcher Position – the fee is $1,000 (up to 1 year)

Berkeley Law Residence Fee: Program participants are required to pay a fee to the law school. 
1. Visiting Scholar Position – the fee is either $3,500 (appointment up to 6 months) or $7,000 (appointment 6 months-1 year).
2. Visiting Student Researcher Position – the fee is either $2,500 (appointment up to 6 months) or $5,000 (appointment 6 months-1 year).

J1 Services Fee: UC Berkeley-sponsored J visa applicants must pay a $850 feeTo clarify, $650 goes to BIO for processing the DS-2019 application and producing the Form DS-2019 document(s) needed to secure a J visa and the remaining $200 is for the FedEx International Priority shipping costs and other Program incidental/administrative expenses.  If needed, one may expedite the process by paying a $300 fee in addition to the $850 base fee.  If the scholar wishes to defer the appointment’s start date, please submit a request to the host department, VSPA, BIO, and faculty sponsor and ask for approval. Once approved, the scholar will have to pay a deferral charge of $200 ($100 BIO service fee + $100 FedEx shipping charge) for processing a new DS-2019.

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.

Health Insurance
All visiting scholars must have health insurance for the duration of their appointment.  Information about the health insurance requirements for J-1 and J-2 Exchange Visitors can be found here. If the visitor has insurance with comparable coverage, please contact Garnett-Powers & Associates to receive a waiver.  J1 and J2 visitors may begin enrolling 30 days before the effective date of the appointment.  Dental insurance is optional.

UC Vaccination Policy
An updated revision of the University of California Vaccine Program Policy was issued on August 16, 2023, strongly recommending all members of the University community follow vaccine recommendations adopted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) applicable to their age, medical condition, and other relevant indications. The policy also allows for submitting an opt-out/declination of getting the annual influenza (flu) vaccine. 

To comply with the Flu and COVID-19 Vaccine Policy by December 1, 2023, students, faculty, staff, and visiting scholars need to either:

1. Get a flu vaccine and log those records into eTang in the Medical Clearances section. Flu vaccines are for the current flu season (August 1, 2023 or later).
2. Or submit a declination to be vaccinated on eTang in the Medical Clearances section.

EHS 207: UC Berkeley Guidelines on Protecting Workers from COVID-19
The required online training is designed to reduce the risk of UC Berkeley employees getting COVID-19 while working on campus during the coronavirus pandemic.

UC Learning Center – Required Training
Per UCOP’s direction, Visiting Scholars and Visiting Student Researchers must take additional e-courses during their visit.
1. UC Abusive Conduct in the Workplace
2. UC Cyber Security Awareness Fundamentals
3. UC Preventing Harassment & Discrimination: Non-Supervisors (SVSH version)
4. General Compliance Briefing: University of California Ethical Values and Conduct
5. Workplace Safety

Mask Requirement
Visitors not fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear face coverings indoors but are strongly recommended.

Business Hours
Monday to Friday:  8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Please address all questions regarding the Visiting Scholars Program to