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Florida Gulf Coast University

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Office of Research and Sponsored Programs

International Exchange Visitors (Scholars & Students)


The Office of International Services provides overall leadership to FGCU in developing, coordinating and promoting international education opportunities for students and professionals. The office offers guidance, resources, support services and programs to the university to initiate or enhance student opportunities and professional development experiences. This may include study, research, teaching and other academic or cultural exchange. International Exchange Visitors, (which include Scholars & Students) are foreign nationals invited by Florida Gulf Coast University through a formal process to study, research, teach, conduct professional observations or share expertise with our university members and U.S. colleagues. In accordance with U.S. Department of State regulations, these individuals must be sponsored by a designated Exchange Visitor Program institution and are subject to U.S. immigration regulations under the Department of Homeland Security. The International Services Office of FGCU is a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State Exchange Visitor Program (created by the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, known as the Fulbright-Hays Act). The purpose of this exchange program is to facilitate academic and cultural exchange activities between FGCU and students, academics and professionals of other nations to support friendly, sympathetic and peaceful relations between the U.S. and other nations. As such, Exchange Visitors are expected to return abroad after completing their U.S. program to exercise the skills and knowledge acquired in the U.S.

Program Authorization

The International Services Office coordinates FGCU's Exchange Visitor Program and provides the guidance, support services, and designated Responsible Officer and Alternate Responsible Officer who are the only FGCU personnel authorized to administer this program for the university. In this role, the International Services Office staff will advise, guide and assist other FGCU personnel interested in hosting an international Exchange Visitor (scholar, student intern or student) and will conduct and coordinate the immigration documentation and requirements for program compliance.


Application Process

FGCU personnel wishing to invite and host a foreign national to the university must apply through the International Services Office well in advance (90 days minimum suggested) of an expected start date for the Exchange Visitor as preparations can take several months to ensure necessary compliance and arrangements.  Please click here for important information, requirements, guidance and forms regarding the Exchange Visitor Program. The International Services Office may be your initial point of contact as you consider hosting a foreign national Exchange Visitor however, you may also be referred to the ORSP or Human Resources Office for additional guidance and appropriate procedures as needed. No FGCU persons should offer any formal or written invitation to a prospective Exchange Visitor until advised by the International Services Office that all required procedures have been completed.

Exchange Visitors and Export Compliance

All Exchange Visitors must meet, and be screened for, export compliance requirements. The Deemed Export Review Form for J-1 Scholars and Student Interns (included in the general application process for hosting the Exchange Visitor) must be completed and submitted to International Services Office. If further information is needed, or any concerns are noted, the International Services Office will contact the FGCU host prior to proceeding to formally invite the Exchange Visitor and issue appropriate immigration documents.  

Exchange Visitor Categories

All Exchange Visitors are issued a J-1 visa to enter the U.S. that designates their participation in the Exchange Visitor Program.  The following categories within the J-1 visa status categories, as defined below, are available to FGCU as a designated sponsor:

Professors and Research Scholars
Foreign professors and research scholars engaged in research, teaching, and lecturing with their American colleagues. Persons in this category  may engage in research, lecturing, and short-term consultations with approval from the International Services Office and shall not be a candidate for a tenure track position. Some restrictions may apply if participant has previously been in the U.S. in J-visa status. Maximum duration is 5 years.

Short Term Scholar 
Professors, research scholars or persons with similar education or accomplishments who visit the U.S. to lecture, observe, consult, train, or demonstrate special skills at research institutions, museums, libraries, and post-secondary accredited educational institutions. Short term scholars may participate in conferences, workshops, seminars, or other events as indicate and may lecture or consult at other institutions (outside of FGCU) if authorized. Maximum duration is 6 months.

Experts in field of specialized knowledge or skill who are in the U.S. to observe, consult or demonstrate special skills. Professors, researchers, short term scholars and alien physicians are excluded from this category.  Maximum duration is one year.

Student Intern
Foreign  students  currently enrolled and pursuing a degree at a postsecondary academic institution outside the United States, whose U.S. internship will "fulfill the educational objectives for his or her current degree program at his or her home institution. Maximum duration is 12 months for each foreign degree/major.

Foreign students who study at FGCU through an institutional partnership. This category is managed by the International Services Office.

Sponsored Exchange Visitors

FGCU may also "host" (be the site of activity for) an Exchange Visitor that is sponsored (authorized) by another (3rd party) U.S. designated Exchange Visitor Program sponsor.  In such a circumstance, the FGCU host department representative should also contact the International Services Office before proceeding with formal, official invitations to the Exchange Visitor.  The International Services Office may be your initial point of contact as you consider hosting a "sponsored" foreign national Exchange Visitor.  However, you may also be referred to the ORSP or Human Resources Office for additional guidance and appropriate procedures as needed.   FGCU hosts should contact the International Services Office well in advance minimum of 90 days) to discuss interest in hosting a "sponsored" exchange visitor scholar or student.  Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.