Visa Information

Information and resources on the visa process.

A high proportion (approximately 70%) of SEAS academic hires and appointments are foreign nationals, and require work with the Harvard International Office (HIO) to secure the proper visa.

Please be aware of employment situations that entail the acquisition or adjustment of visas for international scholars.

To ensure a smooth transition, it is important to begin the visa process as soon as possible. 

International Scholar Dossier (ISD)

International scholars' visa information is generally processed through the ISD program.  The Academic Appointments Manager will initiate the ISD record as soon as they receive notification that an international scholar requires a Harvard-sponsored visa.  The scholar will receive login and password information via email and will be required to submit personal, contact, and previous visa information through ISD.

The Academic Appointments Manager then submits the ISD record to the HIO and acts as a liaison between the HIO and the scholar.

Funding Requirements

Harvard University requires international scholars to show that they have at least $30,000 per year ($2,500/month) in funding available during their appointment.  This information shown within the Funding tab in ISD and can be a combination of personal funds, grants, and other sources.  Scholars whose spouses and/or children will accompany them to the U.S. must show they have at least an additional $5,000/year for each dependent.  The Harvard International Office may require back-up documentation to prove the sources and amounts of funding.


The HIO processes the information submitted in ISD and creates form DS-2019, which is the document the scholar will need to bring to their local embassy in order to acquire the actual visa.  Generally, the DS-2019 is sent to the scholar via Fedex and its shipment progress can be tracked, if necessary.


The HIO suggests a minimum of 60 days between the time the scholar is entered into ISD and the expected start date at Harvard.  Due to the large volume of visas the HIO processes, it is extremely difficult to expedite the process.

As soon as you know that you plan to appoint an international scholar who may need a visa, notify the relevant Academic Appointments Manager.


Scholars on visas must enter the U.S. within the 30 days either before or after the date listed on their visa.  Within 30 days of their arrival, they must check in at the HIO, in person, and will receive important information.

Social Security Number

Many appointments require a social security number (SSN).  To obtain an SSN, you must apply at the Social Security office in person.  The closest office to the Cambridge campus is 10 Fawcett Street, First Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138

Please note that the office previously located in Davis Square (Elm Street), Somerville is no longer open.

Visa Questions and General Information

The HIO provides services to international students and scholars and their family members in Harvard College, the graduate and professional schools, and affiliated hospitals.  The HIO website contains helpful information on a wide range of topics from visas, health insurance, taxes and housing, and other resources in the Cambridge/Boston area.