The J-1 Visiting Scholar program at Golden Gate University School of Law hosts visiting scholars to engage in significant independent legal research projects on our campus. The GGU School of Law is conveniently located in downtown San Francisco (Financial District), which is the legal and cultural heart of the city and home to courthouses, government buildings, and cultural institutions.


Golden Gate University School of Law accepts applications for the J-1 Visiting Scholar program three (3) times a year for Fall, Spring, and Summer academic terms. We only accept applications by the following deadlines:

  • May 1: Fall Semester (Starts August)
  • October 1: Spring Semester (Starts January)
  • February 1: Summer Semester (Starts late May)

For exact dates please review the School of Law’s Academic Calendar. The School of Law operates on a semester-based academic calendar, with fourteen (14) weeks of instruction in both the fall and the spring, and seven (7) weeks of instruction during the summer.


The GGU School of Law welcomes law graduates, law professors and professionals, and government officials from around the world to engage in significant independent legal research projects for one or two semesters while in residence on the GGU campus in the heart of downtown San Francisco.

The Visiting Scholar Residency Seminarcourse is designed explicitly for visiting scholars to advance their legal research and writing skills and methodology. This is also an opportunity to work directly with their faculty advisor and meet each other regularly, present their works, and learn about other academic activities in law school. This course is mandatory to register for and attend every semester during visiting scholars’ appointment and is offered only in the fall and spring semesters.

Visiting Scholars are encouraged to attend the law faculty scholarship presentations, doctoral students’ work-in-progress and final presentations, campus events, and contribute to the scholarly life of the school of law.

Please note that the J-1 Visiting Scholar program is not a degree program at GGU. Visiting Scholars may audit law school classes only after approval of the Director of the LLM Program. Academic credit is not available for audited courses.

Please review the J-1 visa physical residency requirements under "Eligibility to Return to the US" section.


  • Visiting Scholars may attend GGU for a maximum of two academic semesters. Extension requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis, if eligible. See additional J-1 visa requirements under "SEVIS Program Extension" section.
  • The time of visit must be according to "START" and "END" dates of each academic term (Fall, Spring, Summer) at the School of Law published in the Academic Calendar. You must indicate the Start and End dates on your application.
  • Visiting Scholars are required to attend the Visiting Scholar Residency Seminar course from the beginning date of each semester.


The Summer academic semester at the School of Law is 7-weeks long. There is no difference in tuition for Fall, Spring, or Summer semesters. The “Start” and “End” dates for the summer academic semester are published in the School of Law’s Academic Calendar.

If you are planning to apply for the Summer Semester as your first semester, please carefully consider the following requirements (these requirements are not negotiable):

  • The Start and End dates of your visit must align with the start and end dates of the summer semester.
  • You must register & pay tuition.
  • The Visiting Scholar Residency Seminar course is NOT offered during the summer semester. Instead, the expectation is to conduct the proposed research project independently during this time and participate in any available campus events.
  • A faculty advisor is available for consultation.
  • All privileges & support services on campus are available.
  • If Summer semester is the ONLY academic term at GGU, the expectation is to conduct your proposed research project independently without attending the seminar class and participate at any available campus events.
  • If you are planning to visit GGU for two (2) semesters and summer semester is your first semester, you must enroll in the seminar course in the following fall semester and conduct your proposed research during the summer term.


Visiting Scholars will be given the following privileges during their appointment:

  • GGU Email Account
  • GGU Student Identification Card
  • Secure Wireless
  • Law Library: Access to the Law Library’s extensive collection of legal material & its online databases such as Westlaw, LexisNexis and Hein Online. All library services such as Inter Library Loan (borrow any regularly circulating materials from most other campus libraries), are available.
  • Support from law librarians
  • Computing & Support Services: The Computer Lab in the law library is available for those needing computers to access all databases licensed for GGU.
  • Printers, for a fee
  • Locker
  • Enroll in the ESL Language Center of San Francisco: Visiting Scholars are eligible to enroll in the ELS Language Center of San Francisco near the GGU campus. ELS Language Centers are an industry leader in advanced English language instruction for professionals. Their wide range of English as a Second Language (ESL) programs are designed to help advance research, careers, and to improve advanced English.


Due to space restrictions, the School of Law cannot provide offices for visiting scholars.


GGU school of law Tuition for J-1 Visiting Scholar per academic semester is $5,000 which includes law school fees. For all other additional fees, please review "Fees to be Paid" section.


There is no application fee. The application process consists of two parts:

  1. Admission to the J-1 Visiting Scholar program, and
  2. Approval of the J-1 visa

Admission Process

Applicants must submit an electronic J-1 Visiting Scholar Application Form and ALL required supporting documents online in the student applicant portal before published deadlines. Please do NOT email your application & supporting documents. Incomplete or late applications will NOT be accepted.

To apply, please:

  1. Complete & submit the electronic J-1 Visiting Scholar Application Form.
  2. Once you submit your application form, you will receive an email notification requesting additional items that must be uploaded to the portal to complete your application. Without them, your application is incomplete, and we will not process incomplete applications.
  3. The review process only starts after receiving the application and required documents, all of which must be received before the published deadline.

Application Checklist

All the following documents are REQUIRED to submit:

  • J-1 Visiting Scholar Application Form
  • Résumé or Curriculum Vitae (C.V.): Please include educational, publication, work history.
  • Statement of Purpose:
    • Please briefly describe the research you propose to undertake while at GGU, and your reasons for applying to be a J-1 Visiting Scholar at GGU School of Law. Please do NOT submit them separately. Both must be included in one (1) Statement of Purpose document.
    • No more than 800 words, double-spaced.
  • Proof of English Language Proficiency
    English proficiency will be demonstrated with one (1) of the following:
    • Official or Copy of TOEFL, or IELTS, or TOEIC exam score report
      • Official score report for TOEFL or IELTS must be sent electronically to GGU from the testing organization.
      • Official score report for TOEIC must be mailed to:
        Attn: Delaram Farzaneh, Law School Student Affairs, Suite 2333
        536 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105-2968
      • Copy of score report can be uploaded on the student applicant portal. You must submit the original hard copy to Dir. Delaram Farzaneh upon your arrival.
    • Request to interview with the Program Director
    • Request Waiver if:
      • Your first language is English, OR
      • Attended an educational institution in which English was the primary language of instruction, OR
      • Worked in an English-speaking environment where English was the primary language of written and oral communication for a year or more.

OPTIONAL: Application is considered complete without a letter of recommendation.

Applicant may submit one (1) Letter of Recommendation that is written by a current or former professor, professional colleague, or supervisor who can attest to the applicant's intellectual and professional attributes. Letters from friends, family members, and other such acquaintances are not advisable.


The application review process begins once we receive the complete application (form & required documents) by the published deadline. Please note that incomplete or late applications will NOT be reviewed.

An acceptance email with a formal Offer Letter will be sent to the applicant indicating formal admission to the program with detailed information. Visiting scholars must indicate their acceptance of our offer by signing the Offer Letter and emailing it to visitingscholar@ggu.edu by the deadline included in the offer letter. This offer is contingent upon receiving a signed offer letter by the applicant.

Upon receiving the signed offer letter, the office of International Student Services will assist visiting scholar with information they will need to start a J-1 visa process to purse research in residence at GGU.


Most foreign visiting scholars will need to obtain a J-1 visa to pursue their research at GGU School of Law. J-1 visas are obtained by the issuance of a DS-2019 form. Applicants who obtain admission to the J-1 Visiting Scholar program will receive an Offer Letter. After applicants are admitted to GGU School of Law as J-1 Visiting Scholars, they can apply for a DS-2019 form with GGU International Student Services. Processing the DS-2019 application takes approximately 1-2 weeks.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires GGU School of Law to certify the financial resources of all international applicants applying for J-1 visa. GGU School of Law is unable to issue a DS-2019 form without financial certification.

Steps to Apply for a J-1 Visa

  • Review US Department of State website for detailed information about applying for J-1 visa.
  • Apply for a DS-2019 form with GGU International Student Services. Visiting Scholars should contact international@ggu.edu for DS-2019 application process. The DS-2019 form for J-1 Visiting Scholars is issued with the Research Scholar category. Once the DS-2019 form is issued, it will be mailed to the Visiting Scholar. The cost of shipping is the responsibility of the J-1 Visiting Scholar. Shipping labels are created through eShipGlobal.
  • Pay the 901-SEVIS fee.
  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160) and pay DS-160 application fee.
  • Schedule an appointment for the visa interview at a local US Embassy. Visit the US Department of State website to find the nearest embassy and visa appointment wait times.

Note: Canadian citizens do not need to apply for a visa to enter the US. Canadian citizens will need to present a passport (valid for at least six months into the future), DS-2019 form (original), SEVIS fee payment receipt, evidence of financial support, and GGU School of Law Admission Letter at the port of entry to request admission to the US in J-1 status.

Eligibility to Return to the US

Home-country physical presence requirement - 212(e)

J-1 Visiting Scholars (and their J-2 dependents) are subject to the two-year home residence requirement – also known as 212(e) if their participation in the GGU School of Law Visiting Scholar program is financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the US Government or by the government of the country of their nationality or of their last legal permanent residence.

Individuals subject to the two-year home residence requirement are required to return and reside in their home country or country of legal permanent residence for two years before they may return to the US in H, L, or K visa classification, or as a lawful permanent resident (“green card” holder). In addition, individuals who are subject to this requirement are not eligible to apply for change of status within the US.

12-Month Bar for Initial J-1 Visa Research Scholar Category

Prospective J-1 Visiting Scholars who previously participated in any J-1 visa exchange program (including as a J-2 dependent) are ineligible to receive a DS-2019 form for the Research Scholar category for a period of 12 months after ending the previous J-1 exchange program. An exception to the 12-month bar exists for J-1 Research Scholars whose prior J-1 visa exchange program was less than six months in duration or was under the J-1 Short-Term Scholar category.

24-Month Bar on Repeat Participation in J-1 Visa Research Scholar Category

J-1 Visiting Scholars who complete their GGU School of Law Visiting Scholar program in the J-1 Visa Research Scholar category become subject to a 24-month (two-year) prohibition from returning to the U.S. to commence a new J-1 exchange visitor program in Research Scholar or Professor category. This bar on repeat participation is not the same as the Two-Year Home Residence Requirement –212(e).

If you have questions regarding 212(e) or the 12 & 24-month bars, contact international@ggu.edu.

Fees to be Paid
  • U.S. Federal Government Fees:
  • GGU School of Law Fees:
  • Other Possible Costs:
    • Shipping Label for DS-2019 (created through the eShipGlobal system). Fee varies from country to country and shipping service selected.
    • Health Insurance, costs vary depending on Health Insurance Plan. See Health Insurance Section for more information.
    • Living expenses and costs vary depending on neighborhood/city. Review the GGU Cost of Attendance website for estimated living expenses including room and board, transportation, personal / miscellaneous.
    • International air fair or travel within the US, costs vary.
Health Insurance

J-1 visa holders and their accompanying dependents (J-2 visa holders) are required to have medical insurance coverage during the entire period of time they are in the US in J-1 or J-2 immigration status with the minimum benefits established in the CFR – Exchange Visitor Program.

For more information about Health Insurance options, visit our Student Services page or contact international@ggu.edu.


GGU does not offer on-campus housing, however we have various housing opportunities accessible to International Students and J-1 Visiting Scholars. For more information, visit our GGU Housing Page or contact international@ggu.edu.

Admission to the US

J-1 Visiting Scholars may enter the US up to 30 days before the program start date indicated in their DS-2019 form. Documents required at the port of entry for admission to the US:

  • Passport (valid for at least 6 months into the future)
  • J-1 Visa (Canadian citizens are exempt)
  • DS-2019 issued by GGU (original)
  • I-901 SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt
  • Evidence of Financial Support
  • GGU School of Law Offer Letter

The US Department of State and US Customs and Border Protection have increased the level of review international visitors face at US Consulates and Embassies abroad, US airports, and border crossing posts with Canada and Mexico.

We recommend following these suggestions carefully when traveling to the US:

  • Carry proof of admission acceptance/current enrollment at GGU (Offer Letter, transcripts, etc).
  • Be honest, patient, and courteous with all government officials.
  • Be prepared for the following possibilities:
    • Delays in appointment scheduling and visa processing at US Consulates.
    • Change of visa processing at some US Consulates to include mail-in or "drop box" service for visa applications.
    • o Delays in flights within the US and returning to the US from abroad due to heightened security measures at airports and delays along the Canadian / Mexican border.
    • Inquiries and increased review of documents at all ports of entry for non-US citizens.
    • Multiple inspections of the same person by US Customs and Border Protection Officials.
    • Inspection of personal belongings, luggage, pockets, or other searches.

Disclaimer: Given the rapid changes to immigration regulations and practices, this information is subject to change.

Arrival to the US & Orientation

No later than 10 days after J-1 Visiting Scholars arrive to the US, they must contact GGU International Student Services (international@ggu.edu) to report their arrival and attend the J-1 Visiting Scholar Orientation.

Maintaining J-1 Visa Status
  • Report Change of Address & Contact Information
    J-1 Visiting Scholars must report the following to GGU International Student Services (international@ggu.edu) within 10 days of the change:
    1. Changes in telephone number
    2. Changes in email address
    3. Changes in actual & current U.S. physical and mailing address; and
    4. Changes in site of activity (if scholar is permitted to make such a change without prior sponsor authorization)
  • Maintain J-1 Program Objective
    • Registration
      J-1 Visiting Scholars must register in the following courses each academic term during their visit at GGU School of Law:
      • Visiting Scholar Residency Seminar - LLM 398 (1 unit) – Fall & Spring
      • LLM US Legal Visiting Scholar -LLM 398B (0 units) – Fall, Spring and Summer
    • Research Progress
      J-1 Visiting Scholars are required to update GGU School of Law with the progress of their research multiple times throughout their program in coordination with the program director.
    • Compliance with Law School Policies
      By accepting offer for admission, J-1 Visiting Scholars are bound by the Law School Student Handbook.
  • Maintain Health Insurance

    J-1 Visiting Scholars and their J-2 dependents must maintain health insurance coverage that meets J-1 federal guidelines for the entire length of their Visiting Scholar program. For resources and requirements, please see the Health Insurance section of this page.

  • Travel Endorsement

    Before any international travel, J-1 Visiting Scholars must ensure they have the necessary travel documents for their return to the US and obtain a travel signature for their DS-2019 form from GGU International Student Services (international@ggu.edu), if needed. GGU International Student Services generally recommends that the travel signature be no older than 6 months at the time of re-entry to the US.

    J-1 Visiting Scholars must carry the following documents which are required at the port of entry for admission to the US:

    • Passport (valid for at least 6 months into the future)
    • Valid J-1 Visa (Canadian citizens are exempt)
    • DS-2019 no older than 6 months (original)
    • Evidence of Financial Support

    Note: There might be additional US government travel restrictions for foreign travelers at the time of travel to the US. For additional information, contact GGU International Student Services (international@ggu.edu).

  • Employment

    J-1 Visiting Scholars may engage in occasional lectures or short-term consultations. To obtain authorization to engage in this type of employment, J-1 Visiting Scholars must contact GGU International Student Services (international@ggu.edu). Certain eligibility criteria and procedures apply.

    J-1 Visiting Scholars must not accept any unauthorized employment in the US. Unauthorized employment in the US is a reason for terminating a Visiting Scholar J-1 status on SEVIS.

Completing GGU Visiting Scholar Program

J-1 Visiting Scholars who conclude their research activities on the date stipulated in their DS-2019 form may remain in the US for up to 30 days after this date to prepare for departure from the country. During these 30-day grace period, J-1 Visiting Scholars cannot:

  • Extend their J-1 program on SEVIS (Extend program end date of their DS-2019 form)
  • Conduct research work
  • Transfer
SEVIS Program Extension

J-1 Visiting Scholars who require more time to complete their program, must request a SEVIS program extension to GGU International Student Services (international@ggu.edu) no less than 30 days prior to the program end date of the DS-2019 form.

Report Early Departure

J-1 Visiting Scholars must inform GGU International Student Services (international@ggu.edu) if they will be ending their program more than 15 days before the program end date of the DS-2019 form.

Additional J-1 Visa Information