Whether in the classroom or in the research laboratory, international scholars play a critical role by contributing special skills and unique perspectives to the university’s teaching, research, and outreach mission. Mizzou hosts more than 900 of the estimated 134,000 international scholars engaged in teaching and research at U.S. institutions annually. The university also enrolls over 1,000 international graduate students annually; many continue their professional development through postdoctoral fellowships at Mizzou. Due to the challenges posed by increasingly restrictive and complex immigration regulations and security measures after Sept. 11, 2001, it is important to highlight several issues unique to international postdoctoral fellows.
Learn more about international scholars »
For the purposes of the postdoctoral policy, international postdoctoral scholars are defined as foreign nationals who have been invited by Mizzou to come to the United States in a non-immigrant classification to pursue teaching, research and other scholarly activities directly related to their primary field of expertise. The most common nonimmigrant classifications used to facilitate participation in postdoctoral training by foreign nationals are the J-1 exchange visitor status and the H-1B alien worker status. The postdoctoral policy will not review the myriad complex regulations and procedures for the J-1 and H-1B status. However, the following issues have been highlighted along with references for further information:
The Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) is authorized by the U.S. Department of State and is administered by the MU International Center. Mizzou departments may request the participation of an international scholar through the J-1 EVP but should understand the key regulatory ramifications of this status on the scholar:
Other issues regarding J-1 scholars should be reviewed closely by the hosting department and the visiting scholar at the MU International Center website »
The university may also sponsor or “petition” on behalf of a foreign national to come to the United States in the H-1B alien worker status. At the request of the Mizzou host department, the MU International Center can assist with the administrative processes to initiate the H-petition. Information on the H-status and related issues may be reviewed at the International Center website. Key issues that should be noted for H-1B postdoctoral scholars:
Other issues regarding H-1B scholars should be reviewed closely by the hosting department and the visiting scholar at the MU International Center website »
A potential pitfall in the U.S. immigration environment that might impact an international scholar is the period of transition that occurs during a change of nonimmigrant status or during an adjustment of status from nonimmigrant to immigrant. These processes are very complex and lengthy; in some cases, they take years to resolve. Mizzou postdoctoral fellows pursuing changes or adjustments of status should keep their host departments and the MU International Center informed of updates, changes and delays related to their cases to avoid serious legal problems, particularly in regards to employment eligibility. The university does not sponsor postdoctoral fellows for employment-based permanent resident petitions.
Mizzou has developed a policy pertaining to the types of individuals eligible for MU International Center assistance for employment-based permanent residence petitions at the MU International Center site »
International postdoctoral scholars may be subject to income tax withholding depending on citizenship, length of stay in the United States and other factors. Postdoctoral fellows should be referred to the Nonresident Alien Taxation Specialist (firstname.lastname@example.org) for advice and assistance. Departments can find information about non-resident alien taxation here.
International postdocs are subject to rules and regulations regarding export controls/select agents. Please see the Intellectual Property & Research Guidelines policy for more information.
Before postdoctoral scholars from countries where English is not the primary language take on teaching roles, the university must assess whether they have the necessary language skills to ensure their success. Because of the nature of postdoctoral training and the qualifications that postdoctoral scholars bring to the university, the evaluation by ITAP will be considered advisory to the chair/director of the department, who will ultimately be responsible for determining the suitability of a postdoctoral fellow for classroom assignments. Departments must review teaching evaluations with the postdoctoral scholars and provide resources to the postdoctoral scholars should their evaluations suggest that teaching improvement is necessary.
ITAP will work with department chairs/directors to ensure that evaluation of candidates can be done as efficiently as possible. Chairs/directors are advised to contact the ITAP office as soon as the postdoctoral scholar arrives, so that assessments can be completed in a timely manner.
Postdoctoral scholars are encouraged to take advantage of other services that ITAP offers that may be beneficial. These include: cultural orientation to the classroom, oral communication courses, and confidential mid-semester feedback and follow-up discussion. To find out more about ITAP programs and services, please visit the ITAP webpage.