Common Visa Types

A non-immigrant visa is issued to a person with a permanent residence outside the U.S., but who wish to be in the U.S. on a temporary basis such as tourism, business, temporary work, or study. For the most commonly used visa types at Rice University, see below:


Business (B-1) visa and the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allow academic foreign nationals an opportunity to enter the U.S. for a brief period of time for business activities and be paid an honorarium, if applicable. The scope is very limited and includes: business meetings, attendance at conferences, and short-term (less than 9 days) academic lectures and consultations. Employment is strictly forbidden on this visa type. Authorization for use of the B-1/VWP at Rice must be approved by the Executive Director of the Office of International Students and Scholars or his/her designate prior to the arrival of the foreign national.

F-1 Student

F-1 Student visa is for a non-immigrant pursuing a "full course of study" to achieve a specific educational or professional objective, at an academic institution in the United States designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to offer courses to such students, and who has been enrolled in SEVIS (the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System).

J-1 Exchange Visitor

J-1 Exchange Visitor visa was developed to implement the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (Fulbright-Hayes Act) of 1961 "to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges." The J visa is co-administered and co-authorized by the Department of State (DoS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Rice is authorized to use various categories within the J-1 visa, including Research Scholar, Professor, Short-Term Scholar, Degree-seeking Students, and Non-degree Students.


H-1B Temporary Worker visa is for a "specialty occupation" that requires "(A) theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and (B) attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States." The H-1B must also meet criteria set forth by the Department of Labor and is governed by both statutes and regulations. Rice has specific guidelines for when the H-1B visa may be used, with strict protocol that must be followed involving both OISS and HR (


O-1 visa is for the employment of individuals who have achieved and sustained national or international acclaim for extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. This category permits an employer to petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for an individual to come to the United States on a temporary basis to continue to work within his or her area of extraordinary ability or achievement. It is used on a limited basis at Rice, but will occasionally be recommended by OISS in those situations where it is determined to be the best fit for the purpose of the program, and where all other visa options have been excluded.


NAFTA Professional (or “TN”) facilitates the entry of Canadian and Mexican citizens to the United States to engage in professional business activities on a temporary basis. Only occupations specified in Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA treaty can serve as the basis for TN employment. Appendix 1603.D.1 also stipulates the minimum qualifications for entry into the U.S. in each occupation.

Permanent Residency

Permanent Residency is a legal status that does not require a visa. It may be obtained in various ways such as family sponsorship, political asylum, diversity lottery, or employment based.


PERM Processing for Permanent Residency – PERM stands for Program Electronic Review Management process and refers to processing one type of permanent residency that is based on employer sponsorship; PERM requires a Labor Certification process as part of an employer-based petition for permanent residency. Rice has a comprehensive manual to assist with PERM processing for international faculty and staff (see It includes guidelines for the circumstances under which Rice will sponsor PERM.