Helpful Links for Faculty Reference
Expectations of Faculty Sponsors
Total number of visitors per academic year: 30
Total number of visitors for each faculty member per year: 3
While we have been charging a department fee for several years to acknowledge the work that this requires of the department, the department still has limited support, and approvals are not guaranteed. In terms of a limit on individual faculty, this helps faculty who are in the greatest demand say no to potential visitors, and to ask visitors asking to come in rather quickly to delay their visit.
Determine Ideal Unit to Sponsor
Since campus Organized Research Units (ORUs) are academic units designed to provide a supportive infrastructure for interdisciplinary research that complements the academic goals of departments, please consider referring requests for visiting scholars to these units as a first step.
Sponsors must be current full-time department faculty. Faculty who will be on sabbatical or research leave should not agree to sponsor individuals during their leave. Visitors might be doing their own research, but are required to check in and have access to their sponsor throughout their time at Berkeley.
Benefits and Privileges
Faculty can commit to the following to officially appointed visitors: Campus CalNet ID card; Campus e-mail address; Access to all campus library facilities; Eligibility for campus health insurance; Eligibility for a campus parking permit.
Faculty cannot commit to office space, additional funding, teaching, or any other additions without the approval for funding or okay from the Chair.
Length of Appointments
The standard appointment time for visiting scholars can be up to two years. There needs to be a very compelling reason why we would consider extending any visiting scholar appointment beyond the 2nd year.
Visitors coming to UC Berkeley for less than one month can do so informally, but these visitors will not go through VSPA and will not have official affiliation (ID, library card, email, etc.). These visitors usually come through the Visa Waiver Program, which is outlined here.
Letters of Invitation
There are three types of letters faculty tend to write for visitors:
- An official invitation drafted with AP/HR staff outlining fees, dates, and the visitor appointment details and general expectations. This will go to VSPA for processing.
- An unofficial invitation used for students and researchers to show their institutions they would have support for visiting if funding or leave is granted at some point in the future.
- Letters from faculty confirming visitors coming for less than one month. We have run into a roadblock with visitors coming for less than one month through the Visa Waiver Program/ETSA (those who don't apply for a J1 and don't get an official visitor title). As a department, staff have been instructed that they cannot write up an affiliation letter at the department level without an okay to do so from either the Dean's office or the Visiting Scholars and Postdoc Affairs office. Faculty can write a letter on their own directly to short term visitors stating that they've been in contact and that an unaffiliated visitor is welcome to visit our public institution. No additional commitments of department or campus support should be provided to these visitors.
Recent Graduate Non-Paid Appointments
The Visiting Scholar and Postdoc Affairs office has a hard and fast rule that they cannot grant visiting appointments if an individual has recently graduated (within the last 5 years) and if they don't have an academic appointment elsewhere.
The postdoc union has successfully grieved that certain appointments should not be a visiting scholar appointment and instead should be a postdoc appointment, paid through the university, or awarded a fellowship or traineeship for postdoctoral study by an extramural institute/agency. Because of this, recent grads can no longer come on board in the 'visiting scholar' category unless they hold a title elsewhere.
If a recent grad is needing library access, a library card might work for their needs. It's available to both community members and alumni (though the extent of their access may be limited). See the Library's page about library cards for non-UCB patrons.
All postdoc appointments are considered full time, appointed at a minimum for one year, and must meet the basic requirements for funding under these parameters. More details about postdoc appointments are provided by VSPA.
While paid-direct postdocs can be appointed with proof of funding, if there is any change to the union contract and the salary minimum is required to be supplemented in any way during an individual's postdoc tenure, the department will not provide the funding support and the faculty sponsor will be expected to provide the salary supplement from research funds.
Faculty who choose to sponsor a postdoc fellow should consult with the department academic HR staff to determine an estimate of related costs. Some fees are not allowed to be passed on to the postdocs, and sponsoring faculty are expected to cover all costs related to the sponsored postdoc, including covering the costs associated with salary minimums (even if costs rise between the time of postdoc application and the postdocs appointment end).