Visiting Scholars Program

The Fall 2022 application submission period is over.  Interested Visiting Scholar candidates may apply for Spring 2022 admission between June 1, 2022 and August 1, 2022.  Please note that we will not be accepting applications for Visiting Student Researcher (students currently pursuing doctoral or other degree programs at other academic institutions) status for Fall 2022 and Spring 2023.

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 consider those with only a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree if they are licensed to practice law in their home country.

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.  If this applies to you, please e-mail for a consultation prior to submitting an application.

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
  • 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). 

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

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).

If you are currently in the United States, please consult with Berkeley International Office ( to confirm eligibility before applying.  

Berkeley Law Approval

To be considered for an appointment beginning in Fall 2022 (August to November), please submit an application between January 1, 2022 and March 1, 2022.  To be considered for an appointment beginning in Spring 2023 (January to April), please submit an application between June 1, 2022 and August 1, 2022.  We do not review applications on a rolling basis.  Admission decisions will be determined in late March 2022 (for Fall 2022) and late August 2022 (for Spring 2023).  We have a strict application deadline policy and do not accept late applications.

To apply, please complete the online application form (the link will be available during the next application cycle).  You will be required to upload three supporting documents:

  1. 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.

  2. CV/resume
  3. A one-page statement that describes your proposed research agenda and explains the significance of conducting your research at Berkeley Law.  

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.

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.

Admission decisions are determined by the faculty.   The number of applications we receive far exceeds the number of visiting scholars the law school can accommodate.  Furthermore, we do not reconsider applicants, nor do we provide reasoning as to an unfavorable admission decision.

Change of Status Request

*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 ( to confirm eligibility before applying.  Similarly, non-U.S. citizen/lawful permanent resident applicants must consult BIO if they wish to change their visa status (e.g., F-1/OPT to J-1) before applying.

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: Program participants are required to pay a main campus fee to the VSPA office.  The fee for visiting scholars is $750.

Berkeley Law Residence Fee: Program participants are required to pay a fee to the law school.  For visitors scholars, the fee is either $3,500 (appointment up to 6 months) or $7,000 (appointment 6 months-1 year).

DS-2019 Fee: UC Berkeley-sponsored J visa applicants must pay a $800 fee.  To clarify, $600 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.  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 $300 fee in addition to the $700 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.

All visiting scholars 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.  

Health Insurance
All visiting scholars are required to 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.

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

Please address all questions regarding the Visiting Scholars Program to