Visiting Scholars

The university setting can provide a temporary, educational, and cultural opportunity for non-Iowa State University scholars (i.e., non-students and non-employees) to observe and conduct research under the direction of faculty in a prestigious lab.

The designation of Visiting Scholar is a privilege accorded to scholars or researchers temporarily in residence at Iowa State University. The Visiting Scholar stay is for a specific, approved purpose as managed/approved by the respective department/college. The Visiting Scholar must abide by general university policies during his/her stay. The maximum duration of each visit, as a fixed term, is two (2) years. At the conclusion of the visit, the Visiting Scholar is expected to return to his/her home country or institution to utilize the experience and skills acquired while at Iowa State.

Visiting Scholars are persons who have a Bachelors degree as a minimum, and usually a Master's or higher degree. Visiting Scholars are not employees or students of Iowa State University, and therefore are not entitled to Iowa State compensation, or to benefits available to regular faculty, staff, or students.

The Request and Approval

Prior to extending any offer to a Visiting Scholar (or replying to a solicitation to host) and prior to the arrival of the visitor, the Iowa State faculty member must:

  • Discuss the request with the department chair
  • Agree to accept responsibility as the faculty mentor and for supervision of the Visiting Scholar
  • For any non-citizens or non-permanent residents, follow specific immigration guidelines for all visits as indicated below
  • Seek and obtain prior approval of the department chair and dean by initiating a Participation Agreement Form [ PDF (60KB) | DOC (52KB) ]

Note that specific College guidelines may already exist – contact your department chair for additional requirements.

Responsibilities of the Faculty Mentor

The faculty mentor is responsible for the supervision of the Visiting Scholar’s activities within the department (including professional and university personnel matters), and for assistance with private issues for the entire duration of the visit. The Participation Agreement Form must document each of these specific, significant issues that the faculty mentor must address (and the form captures the agreement of both the department and the visitor for same), including but not limited to:

  • Project description and project timeline
  • Granting of facilities access
  • Use of equipment, supplies and services
  • Appropriate lab safety orientation, and other project hazards
  • Intellectual property and confidentiality
  • Behavior expectations and other requirements, such as English proficiency
  • Assumption of risk and waiver of liability
  • Arrival and orientation
  • Travel and housing
  • Required health insurance (Students and Scholars Health Insurance Program)
  • Proof that the visitor is age 18 or older

Specific Steps for Hosting Non-U.S. Citizens

Guidance is available on the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) website.

In addition to completing the Participation Agreement Form:

  1. Complete the DS-2019 form and DS-7002 forms (available on the ISSO website, within the iStart process and the “iStart Instructions and Worksheet” link) and finalize the visa authorization process through ISSO.
  2. Complete the ISU Export Control Worksheet (available on the ISSO website – within the iStart process; or from the Office for Responsible Research, or the Ames Lab Export Control Office), and forward the form to the Office for Responsible Research.

Finalizing the Visit

Once the Participation Agreement Form is approved, the participant must then sign the form to accept the terms and obligations for the visit. Then forward the completed Participation Agreement Form to the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost, 1550 Beardshear.

To obtain a University ID# and ISUCard for a Visiting Scholar, complete the “Non ISU Employee Database Input Form” available from the ISUCard Office (requires an Iowa State department as the sponsor; there is an annual fee of $15).

Note that Iowa State does not approve of “third party” arrangements for persons visiting under the category of Visiting Scholar. (A third-party arrangement would be one created by a person or entity other than the University/Iowa State employee, or the participant/scholar; the University should not be arranging a visit through a company or agent.)




Student in a lab working with multiple beakers filled with blue liquid


Brenda Behling, 
Director of Academic Policy and Personnel,