Enhancements to the Scholar Sponsorship Portal (SSP)

March 08, 2023

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce two significant enhancements to the Scholar Sponsorship Portal (SSP), which is the electronic application used by academic units when seeking visa sponsorship with the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO). These enhancements are expected to be completed in Spring 2023.

Two important steps will be automated within the SSP when seeking visa sponsorship for Officers of Instruction, Officers of Research, Officers of the Libraries, and/or Visiting Scholar/Scientist designations: 

Transition from Manual to Automated Visual Compliance (VC) Restricted Party Screening

Visual Compliance is a web-based restricted party screening tool used by Columbia University to comply with federal export control and sanctions compliance requirements. 

  • VC screening of incoming scholars and their home institution(s) will now be automated and embedded within the SSP.
  • VC screening will be expanded in scope to include Officers of Instruction, Officers of Research, and Officers of the Libraries for whom Columbia will be sponsoring a visa.
  • More information about the new VC restricted party screening process in SSP will be discussed in forthcoming emails and training sessions.

Inclusion of the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Visiting Scholar Review Process within the SSP

The Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs must approve the designation of each visiting scholar/scientist (VS) before the individual receives a formal invitation and before seeking visa sponsorship, if applicable, from the International Students and Scholars Office. 
This review and approval process will also be automated within the SSP. 

  • Academic units will be able to submit supporting documents in the SSP that are required when requesting VS designation. 
  • Approval and recycling of transactions will take place electronically within the SSP.

ISSO will notify current SSP users by email of upcoming information and training sessions later this month. These sessions will also be posted on ISSO’s News and Events page.

These two important updates to the SSP are intended to expedite and strengthen the processes involved in facilitating the visits of the vibrant faculty, researcher, librarian, and visiting scholar community which Columbia University has the privilege of welcoming throughout the year. 

Eugenia Lean
Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs

Naomi Schrag
Vice President for Research Compliance, Training and Policy

Soulaymane Kachani
Senior Vice Provost