10.7 Procedures for Appointing Visiting Student Researchers

Clarifies the registration status of graduate students who are visiting Stanford for the purpose of conducting research under the supervision of a Stanford faculty member. Such visitors will be appointed as nonmatriculated graduate students in the category of Visiting Student Researchers.


Vice Provost for Graduate Education


Questions about this policy can be answered by:

Doyle, Helen J.

Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education

Vice Provost for Graduate Education

(650) 736-1937

Senior Associate Registrar

Judith Haccou

1. Background

Stanford faculty are sometimes asked to supervise the research of visitors who are not Visiting Scholars under current Stanford policy. The qualifications for appointment as a Visiting Scholar state that a person must hold a Ph.D. (or its equivalent from a country other than the United States) or be a recognized expert in the field.

There are a limited number of instances, however, when it would be to the benefit of Stanford faculty to permit graduate students who have not yet attained the Ph.D. to engage in research on the Stanford campus using Stanford research facilities. Such instances might include students at other universities who are engaged in research at the doctoral level and who are doing research in a field of interest to a Stanford faculty member, or a student who is doing a laboratory rotation as part of a larger research study or grant.

When agreeing to invite such graduate students to conduct research at Stanford, faculty must be mindful of the need to place primary emphasis on providing research opportunities to regularly matriculated Stanford students. In addition, invited students must be qualified to conduct research at a level comparable to that of other Stanford graduate students, and the research must be of benefit to Stanford as well as the visitor.

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2. Enrollment Status

Any visiting graduate student who will be participating in research at Stanford for more than 30 days must be appointed into nonmatriculated student status as a Visiting Student Researcher. Students may be classified as Visiting Student Researchers if they are here fewer than 30 days. (No SUnet ID can be sponsored until the VSR appointment has been approved and processed by the Office of the University Registrar.)

Visiting Student Researchers will be registered in the category: "Non-Matriculated Graduate Students - Visiting Student Researchers" (VSR). They will be charged a monthly VSR fee, set annually by the Board of Trustees. Visiting Student Researchers will also be charged the quarterly Campus Health Services Fee, and, unless they document that they have comparable coverage with another carrier, they will be charged for student health insurance.

Persons registered in the VSR category are not permitted to enroll in any classes. If Visiting Student Researchers wish to take classes at Stanford, they should contact the Graduate Admissions, Office of the University Registrar, and request an application for nonmatriculated graduate student enrollment status. A complete application, including letters of recommendation, official transcripts and applicable test scores, would be required by the nonmatriculated application deadline set by Graduate Admissions, Office of the Registrar. Nonmatriculated students must register for a minimum of eight units and are charged the regular tuition rate.

Visiting Student Researchers from other U.S. universities who have educational loans cannot be certified by Stanford for loan deferments because they are neither matriculated at Stanford nor are they carrying a full-time course load. If the researcher is still matriculated at another university in the United States, s/he should contact their home institution regarding eligibility for loan deferments.

VSR status is valid for one year. The status may be extended once for an additional year.

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3. Enrollment Procedures

Obtain the Visiting Student Researcher instructions and form, found below in "Related Items". Requests for this status must be approved by the faculty member with whom the researcher will be working and the Chair of the faculty member's department.

Visiting Student Researchers are obligated to sign a Stanford Patent and Copyright Agreement, found below in Related Items.

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4. Visiting Student Researchers from Other Countries

Citizens of other countries who enter the United States for the purpose of being Visiting Student Researchers at Stanford must have a DS-2019 (certification for J-1 visa status) issued by the Bechtel International Center prior to their arrival in this country. As part of the DS-2019 process, departments verify that international Visiting Student Researchers have sufficient funds to pay required fees and to live in the U.S.  Departments retain the evidence of sufficient financial support in their records for at least three years following the end of the J visa program.  To maintain their visa, Visiting Student Researchers must be registered throughout the period of their residence at Stanford.  Contact the Bechtel Center for further information. 

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5. Payment/Employment

Visiting Student Researchers (VSRs) are responsible for paying the VSR fees and any other applicable fees. At the host department’s discretion, fellowship support and/or hourly employment may be provided for a VSR as detailed below. 

 VSRs are not eligible to be paid as graduate research assistants or as graduate teaching assistants. They may not receive stipends from University scholarships/fellowships. Funds designated for the support of matriculated Stanford students may not be used to support VSRs. If the department wishes to pay fees on the VSR's behalf or to provide a stipend for living expenses, payment must be made through the GFS system using unrestricted funds.  Additionally, VSRs may be employed on an hourly basis to perform work, including work on a sponsored project assuming that the work is appropriate to the project and funds are available.  Hourly job codes are available in the Human Resource Management system specifically for employment of visiting student researchers. VSRs are not subject to working hours restrictions in place for matriculated students. 

 Note: When departments provide stipends or pay fees for VSRs, these payments are considered taxable income to the VSR. If the VSR is a non-US resident for tax purposes, and their home country does not have a tax treaty with the United States, Stanford is obligated to withhold or charge 14% federal tax on any of these payments.  

 VSRs must remain current in their payments to the University to maintain their VVSR status. Persons who are delinquent in their payments will lose their status and, if applicable, their J-1 visa status will be terminated.


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6. Services Available

Persons who are registered as Visiting Student Researchers will be entitled to receive a student photo identification card. The card will permit entry and borrowing privileges from the library at the same level as other non-matriculated students and use of recreational facilities. Researchers will also be eligible to open computer accounts. These services will only be available during the months when the VSR fees have been paid.

Graduate student housing is available, as for other non-matriculated students, only after all matriculated Stanford students have obtained housing. For the purposes of planning for housing, it is best to assume that student housing will not be available on campus for Visiting Student Researchers.

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