We provide services to our international students, postdoctoral scholars, staff and visitors, including information regarding eligibility for immigration sponsorship by SBP, pre-arrival information to assist with adjusting to life in the U.S., as well as up-to-date information on how to maintain immigration status while at SBP. Our office also advises the Institute’s faculty and staff on the appropriate visa status for researchers they wish to sponsor.
Visas and Pre-Arrival Information
When the immigration documents needed for the visa application and entry to the U.S. are sent to the incoming scholar/visitor, they will include an International Student/Scholar Handbook, which includes specific pre-arrival information on applying for a visa and entering the U.S. as well as information to assist with settling into life in the U.S.
The Handbook includes information on:
• How to Apply for a Visa and a Pre-Arrival Checklist
• How to Read and Understand your U.S. Visa Stamp
• Procedures for Arriving in the U.S.
• Understanding your Form I-94, Arrival and Departure Record
• Airport and Transportation Information to SBP
• SBP Location Information, maps and directions
• Check in and Orientation at SBP
• An Exchange Visitor Welcome Brochure (for J-1 status only)
• Area Lodging and Housing Information/Resources
• Setting up Utilities (Gas/Water/Electricity/Phone)
• Area Transportation (Cars/Bikes/Buses/Train)
• Banks/Grocery Stores/Department Stores/Malls/Drug Stores (Pharmacies/Libraries/Hospitals & Clinics)
• And Things to Do in your Area/Tourism
Arriving in the U.S. and Checking in at SBP
On arriving into the U.S., an international scholar/visitor will need to attend a new hire check-in/orientation with SBP Human Resource Office. At SBP La Jolla campus, the new hire check-in/orientation is located in Building 1. If the scholar/visitor will visit our Lake Nona location, they will not meet in La Jolla for their check-in. More information regarding check-in will be sent directly to the scholar/visitor prior to their arrival from the Human Resources Office.
After meeting with Human Resources, the international scholar/visitor will then check-in and attend a visa orientation with the International Office Staff. As SBP International Office is located in La Jolla, California, visa orientations at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute at Lake Nona will be conducted by phone or video conference (SKYPE). To maintain immigration status all international scholars/visitors are required to check in with SBP International Office and receive a visa orientation when they arrive at the Institute. It is important to comply with this requirement as failure to do so may impact your immigration status and ability to remain in the U.S.
During the visa orientation, an International Services Staff member will validate the international scholar/visitor's arrival, review their immigration documents and review important information about maintaining immigration status while in the U.S. We will also provide information about applying for a Social Security Number and Driver's License if needed.
All international scholars/visitors should bring the following documents with them to their visa orientation:
• A valid Passport
• Form DS-2019 (for J-1 Research Scholars)
• Form I-20A-B (for F-1 Students)
• Form I-94, Arrival and Departure card (you will receive this when entering the U.S.)
• Form I-797, Approval Document (if applicable)
• Proof of Health Insurance coverage (for J-1 Research Scholars)
• Dependent(s) documents (if applicable)
• Valid Passport
• Form DS-2019 (for J-2) and Form I-20 (for F-2)
• Form 1-94, Arrival and Departure card
If you have any questions about the check-in process, please contact International Services.
Maintaining Your Immigration Status in the U.S.
International visitors to the U.S. must maintain their immigration status at all times while in the country, whether they have entered the U.S. in a short-stay business category (WB or B-1 status), as a student (F-1 or J-1 status), as a J-1 Exchange Visitor (J-1 status), or for temporary employment (TN, E-3, or H-1B status). In all categories a person should maintain a valid passport at all times while in the U.S.
Additionally, as each visa category has different requirements for maintaining immigration status while in the U.S., it is important that the international scholar/visitor to be aware for criteria that apply to their immigration status:
A person eligible to enter the U.S. in WB Visa Waiver status or in B-1 status may be admitted into the U.S. for a specific period of time and a specific activity. For a person in WB status, a U.S. Customs Officer (CBP) will stamp this date in their passport; for a person in B-1 status, the CBP Officer will stamp the date on the I-94 arrival/departure card that they issue to them when entering the U.S. To maintain immigration status in WB status a person must depart in the U.S. on or before the date specified; in B-1 status a person must either depart the U.S. by the date specified on their I-94 card or have applied to USCIS (U.S. immigration) to extend/or change their non-immigrant status before that date.
A person entering the U.S. in F-1 student status may be admitted to pursue a full course of study at an approved academic institution in the U.S. F-1 students are admitted for the length of their academic program and any period of post completion work authorization granted them by USCIS (U.S. immigraion). When entering the country, a U.S. Customs Officer (CBP) will admit the student in F-1 status for "Duration of Status" which is noted as "D/S" on the F-1 I-20 Form and the I-94 arrival/departure card. When the student completes their academic program and any period of post completion work authorization, the student is allowed a 60 day grace period to depart the U.S.
A person entering the U.S. in J-1 student status may be admitted to pursue a full course of study at an approved academic institution in the U.S. J-1 students are admitted for the length of their academic program and any period of post completion work authorization. When entering the country, a U.S. Customs Officer (CBP) will admit the student in J-1 status for "Duration of Status" which is noted as "D/S" on their J-1 DS-2019 Form and the I-94 arrival/departure card. When the student completes their academic program and any period of post completion work authorization, the student is allowed a 30 day grace period to depart the U.S.
J-1 Exchange Visitor (J-1 Short-Term Scholar and J-1 Research Scholar)
A person entering the U.S. under the J-1 Exchange Visitor program in J-1 Short-Term Scholar status may be admitted to pursue full-time research for up to 6 months; a person entering the U.S. in J-1 Research Scholar status may be admitted to pursue full-time research for up to 5 years. When entering the country, a U.S. Customs Officer (CBP) will admit the J-1 Exchange Visitor in J-1 status for "Duration of Status" which is noted as "D/S" on the J-1 DS-2019 Form and the I-94 arrival/departure card. When the person completes their J-1 Exchange Visitor Program they are allowed a 30 day grace period to depart the U.S.
TN and E-3 Employment status
A Canadian or Mexican citizen entering the U.S. in TN status, or an Australian citizen entering the U.S. in E-3 status, may be admitted into the U.S. for a specific period time. A U.S. Customs Officer (CBP) will stamp this date on the I-94 arrival/departure card when they are admitted. A person in TN status may initially be admitted for up to 3 years; a person in E-3 status may initially be admitted for up to 2 years. Both TN and E-3 status can be renewed indefinitely as long as the person matintains their employment and non-immigrant intent in the U.S. To maintain non-immigrant status, a person in TN or E-3 status must maintain full-time employment with their TN employer and depart the U.S. on or before the date specified, or have applied to USCIS (U.S. immigration) to extend/or change their non-immigrant status before that date.
H-1B Specialty Occupation/Skilled Worker Status
A person entering the U.S. in H-1B employment status may be admitted for the length of their H-1B I-797 Approval Notice. H-1B status may be valid for up to 3 years and renewed for an additional 3 years at the employer's request. When entering the country, a U.S. Customs Officer (CBP) may admit the H-1B employee until the end date listed on their H-1B I-797 Approval Notice and note this date on the person's I-94 arrival/departure card. At the end of a person's H-1B employment, unlike other immigration categories, H-1B status unfortunately does not allow for a "grace period" to depart the U.S.; the regulations governing H-1B status require a person to either depart the U.S. by their last day of their H-1B employment or before the end of their employment have filed to change their non-immigrant status with USCIS (U.S. immigration) or filed to change H-1B employers. *When entering the U.S. in H-1B status a CBP Officer may at their discretion note a 10 day "grace period" for departure on the H-1B employee's I-94 Arrival/Departure card. This applied only if the person completes the full duration of their H-1B employment. This 10 day grace period is to prepare to depart the U.S.; during this time the H-1B employee is not authorized to continue working.
If there are any questions about maintaining immigration status at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute and in the U.S., please contact SBP International Services.
Travel and Re-entry to the U.S.
Travel out of the U.S.
The international scholar/visitor should check that their immigration documents are valid prior to travel and that they will be valid upon re-entry to the U.S. Please note that a person's passport should be valid at least 6 months in the future from the date they plan to re-enter the U.S. If it is valid less than 6 months the U.S. Customs Officer at the port-of-entry may at their discretion limit a person's stay in the U.S. to the expiration date of their passport.
• When re-entering the U.S. the international scholar/visitor will be issued a new I-94 arrival card (white card in passport). It is important that they check that the validity date on the I-94 card correctly matches their immigration status, as the I-94 card is the document that determines a person's immigration status and length of that status in the U.S. Upon returning to the Institute the international scholar/visitor is requested to forward a copy of their new I-94 card (front and back) to Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute International Office for review to make sure they have been correctly readmitted to the U.S. and their immigration status remains valid at the Institute.
• If an international scholar/visitor is traveling out of the U.S. and does not have a valid visa stamp in their passport or if they have changed their immigration status while in the U.S., they will need to apply for a new visa during their trip at a United States embassy or consulate outside of the United States. A valid visa stamp is required for re-entry to the U.S. In this case you will want to allow extra time for your visa appointment and processing. International scholars/visitors should contact the SBP International Office if they will need to apply for a visa. *Canadian citizens in most cases are exempt for applying for a visa renewal although they must present proper documentation of their immigration status when entering the U.S.
• If traveling to a country outside the U.S. other than your own, please check with that country's embassy to see if they first require you to apply for a visa for entry into their country.
• Also, as a reminder when you travel, please keep your immigration documents together and available to present when re-entering the U.S.
Travel in the U.S.
While in the U.S., please carry the following immigration documents, whichever is applicable to your current immigration status:
• Valid Passport (should be valid for six months into the future)
• Valid or expired visa stamp in your passport
• Form I-94 card arrival/departure card
• Valid J-1 Form DS-2019 or F-1 Student Form I-20
• Valid Form I-797 Receipt Notice or Approval Notice (if in H-1B or O-1 status or if you have changed or extended immigration status in the U.S.)
As a reminder, the documents above are the only documents that show your legal immigration status in the U.S. and should be carried at all times.
If there are any questions about traveling in or outside of the U.S. and the documents required while sponsored by Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, please contact the SBP International Office.
Information contained on the International Services website is for the use of the SBP community and should not be used as the sole source of information for making decisions that may affect one's legal status in the U.S..