Updated Process for the Designation of Visiting Scholars/Scientists

April 21, 2021

Columbia University routinely hosts visiting scholars/scientists who come for short periods to carry out independent research using our libraries or other research facilities. In the past, requests for such visitors were submitted directly to the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) for processing.

We are writing to let you know that we are implementing a change in this process to ensure that visitors to the University are screened and designated appropriately. The changes will be two-fold:

Visual Compliance Screening Requests: All potential visiting scholars/scientists from abroad and their home institutions will need to undergo “restricted party” screening using Visual Compliance before any commitment is made to the individual and before the request for the designation is submitted to the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs.

  • Arts and Sciences departments should submit their requests for Visual Compliance screening to Janet Moy at moy@columbia.edu.
  • Engineering departments should submit their requests for Visual Compliance screening to the SEAS Dean’s Office.
  • In other schools, institutes, and centers, please contact the person who currently handles screening through Visual Compliance for faculty and officers of research.

The following materials should be attached to the request for Visual Compliance screening:

  • the proposal outlining the specific research the visitor plans to do within the context of their overall research project while using the University’s libraries or other research facilities;
  • the proposed visitor’s curriculum vitae;
  • the name of the faculty member who will serve as the visitor’s sponsor.

For additional information about “restricted party” screening using Visual Compliance, including how to open a Visual Compliance account, contact Michelle Avallone or Janique Cheesman in the Office of Research Compliance and Training, research-compliance@columbia.edu.

Preliminary Approval of the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs: The Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs must approve the designation of each visiting scholar/scientist before the individual receives an invitation from the school or department and before the request for UNI and visa sponsorship, if applicable, is sent to the International Students and Scholars Office. The materials submitted with requests for Visual Compliance screening, listed above, as well as the report showing the results of the Visual Compliance screening should be submitted to VPAcademicAppts@columbia.edu for review.

ISSO Issuance of UNIs and Visa Sponsorship: Once the department or school has received the approval from the Vice Provost’s Office, the request for UNI and visa sponsorship, if applicable, should be submitted to the ISSO following current procedures. The email approving the designation from the Vice Provost’s Office should be added to the submission so that the ISSO knows that the application has been vetted.

Requests for extending visiting scholar/scientist designations will need to go through the same process.

For additional information about the approval process, please contact Pearl Spiro, Carmen DeLeon, or Zeid Sitnica in the Division of Academic Appointments at VPAcademicAppts@columbia.edu. For further information about visa sponsorship or the designation process after receiving approval, please contact Jane Acton (ja378@columbia.edu ) of the International Students and Scholars Office.

Latha Venkataraman
Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs

David B. Austell
Associate Provost; Director, ISSO