Visiting Research Fellows

Instructions for Visiting Research Fellows


Visiting Research Fellow (VRF) Appointments are available to international students currently enrolled in and pursuing a graduate degree at a postsecondary academic institution.  The research they will pursue at Brown will be for their current graduate degree at their home institution.

Individuals interested in coming to Brown University as a VRF must consult with the particular department they are interested in working with.  Brown University departments should refer to the procedures outlined below.

To come as a Visiting Research Fellow the visitor must meet the following criteria:

  • Be an enrolled graduate student in their home country and coming to Brown for research purposes
  • Be coming for research purposes only and will not enroll in classes at Brown.  VRFs cannot have official student status at Brown.
  • Must receive an appointment through the Graduate School
  • Must have a project timeline established that will not exceed 2 years.  VRF appointments cannot exceed a 2 year period.
  • All J-1 VRF appointees must provide proof of health insurance via GeoBlue Health Insurance for the entire duration of their VRF appointment with their application.

* There are no fees attached to the Visiting Research Fellow status (i.e. no enrollment fee, health service fee or health insurance fee)


Please note that the Request Forms have been recently updated.  Please use only the new Request Forms moving forward.  All J-1 DS-2019 Requests must be received by the OISSS at least 3 months in advance of the requested start date.  Some visa applications may be subject to additional security checks, aka (Administrative Processing).

1.  Sponsoring departments should submit the following to the Graduate School:

  • Completed J-1 VRF Request Form
  • Completed Visiting Research Fellow Appointment Request Form
  • English Language Proficiency Verification
  • Letters of endorsement by the program chair/ director and the faculty member who will advise the visitor at Brown
  • A copy of the student’s original appointment request to the program (i.e. such as an email correspondence with the inviting faculty member)
  • A copy of the student's passport biographical page
  • Letter from home institution confirming student's enrollment, field of study, degree being pursued, and anticipated date of degree completion.
  • Proof of financial support (minimum of $2480 per month)
  • Proof of a purchased health insurance plan for the entire duration of the VRF appointment, through GeoBlue*

2. Once the Graduate School receives the above documentation they will issue an invitation letter to the Visiting Research Fellow.

 3. Once the visitor accepts the invitation from the Graduate School, the Graduate School will forward the appropriate documentation to OISSS.  (To help expedite this step you may wish to request a copy of the invitation letter from the Graduate School and scan/email the letter to the Visiting Research Fellow in order for them to accept the invitation more quickly)

4. Once OISSS receives the packet, they will review the Request documentation and follow up with the sponsoring department with any questions.  Please allow up to 3 weeks for the processing of the request and issuance of Form(s) DS-2019.  Plan ahead and leave sufficient time for processing.

 5. Once the DS-2019 is ready OISSS will contact the sponsoring department.  The sponsoring department will need to send the DS-2019 documentation to the Visiting Research Fellow. 

* Health Insurance Plan

An international Visiting Research Fellow is required to purchase the GeoBlue health insurance plan for the duration of their time in the United States. The GeoBlue health insurance plan is the only insurance accepted at Brown University for VRF appointments.  Please follow the link for information regarding the GeoBlue health insurance and enter the Group Access Code provided:

Acceptable documents for demonstrating health insurance coverage include:

  • a health insurance card issued by GeoBlue with the Visiting Research Fellow’s name on it;
  • a signed letter on letterhead from GeoBlue stating coverage; or
  • proof of payment from GeoBlue.

The Brown University Graduate School will provide confirmation to the OISSS that the GeoBlue health insurance is in effect.  An international Visiting Research Fellow who does not provide proof of GeoBlue health insurance will not have their appointment activated and will not receive a Brown ID card.


  • Unless the VRF is currently studying at a U.S. institution, all International Visiting Research Fellows must come to Brown University under the J-1 visa.
  • The VRF should NOT schedule their visa interview at the U.S. Consulate until their DS-2019 is ready.  Pertinent information on the DS-2019 is needed to schedule an appointment at the U.S. Consulate for a J-1 visa.
  • If the program is funded by the exchange visitor’s government, other organizations or by the individual, a letter of award or a financial statement should be attached with the request form for review.
  • The VRF and the Department should pay close attention to the end date on Form DS-2019 for your exchange visitors.  Extensions must be completed before the expiration date in DS-2019.  Please don’t wait until the last minute to request an extension. 
  • If the VRF will not arrive in the U.S. within 30 days of their anticipated J-1 start date, you must notify OISSS immediately.  OISSS will need to amend the J-1 start date in their SEVIS record accordingly.  Failure to do so will result in termination of their J-1 status.  
  • Please remind your VRF that upon arrival all Brown University international students and exchange visitors are required to register at the Office of International Student and Scholar Services within 5 business days of arrival on campus.  Failure to do so will result in termination of status.