ILAS Visiting Scholar FAQs

Learn more about being an ILAS Visiting Scholar and about living in New York City.

Decisions are made on a rolling basis during the academic year; however, applications should be submitted at least three months prior to the desired start date. Note that Columbia semesters go from September to December and from January to May.

There is a one-time administration fee of $300 for all accepted visiting scholars.

Results can be announced within two weeks of receiving an application.

Visiting scholars can stay up to one year with the option to extend the visit for one more year, for a maximum of two years.

Yes, visiting scholars receive free reading and borrowing privileges from Columbia University Libraries.

Visiting scholars are not allowed to take courses for credit, but they may audit a limited number of classes with the permission of the instructor. Visiting scholars are not permitted to audit oversold classes. Visiting scholars are here to work on their own independent research and as auditors are observers to the class.

Yes, visiting scholars are welcome to participate in all events organized and sponsored by the Institute for Latin American and all its affiliate programs, such as the Center for Mexican Studies  and the Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies.

Housing in New York City is expensive and difficult to obtain, so be sure to allow ample time to arrange a place of residence. Unfortunately, scholars are not eligible for University housing. Some useful links for your housing search follow:

U.S. Department of State regulations require all J-1 visa holders and their dependents to have health insurance, with specified minimum coverage, while in the United States. We encourage you to review the helpful information compiled by Columbia's International Students and Scholars Office.

Information technology at Columbia, including access to University email, is served by CUIT. In order to access and use the University computing network, you must have a network ID (UNI) and password. Your UNI and instructions for activating it will be sent to you with your official acceptance letter from the provost.

For more information about schools in the area, visit the Office of Work/Life.

Once you have secured a faculty sponsor and been accepted to the program, you must be able to prove sufficient funding for the length of your stay. The University requires a bank statement indicating the amount of funds available in your account. In addition, you must procure a letter from your university or company indicating your status and the amount of funds, if any, it will be contribute to your research. Note that the total of all grants, savings, and salary must be enough to cover the following:

  • $2,800 per month for the visiting scholar
  • $1,000 per month for a spouse
  •  $500 per month for each child

For instance, you would need to show $4,300 per month if you were to come with your spouse and one child.

Some carriers may offer student discounts, but it is best to check with the stores owned by the mobile provider directly rather than authorized dealers. Some scholars bring an “unlocked” phone from home and buy a U.S. SIM card from a mobile provider. Here are some mobile phone options.

Each state has its own Department of Motor Vehicles that administers the issuance of driver’s licenses. New York State honors foreign licenses for drivers who are here temporarily, but you must have a certified English translation. We recommend you bring an International Driving Permit (available only from your home country) to use with your license; the IDP alone is not valid to drive with. Visit New York State's Department of Motor Vehicles to learn about obtaining a driver’s license or non-driver ID card to learn how to apply. Also refer to Driving in the United States.

You will need:

  • Passport
  • Evidence of Columbia affiliation
  • Local address
  • Columbia ID

Be sure the bank officer is aware that you are a nonresident. You may be asked to complete a form called W8-BEN for nonresidents so that your interest will not be taxed. View bank locations in neighborhoods near Columbia. Note that Santander has a branch on the Morningside campus in Alfred Lerner Hall open Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

IDNYC is a government-issued identification card available to anyone living in New York City who is age 14 and older, regardless of immigration status. Discounts and free membership to 40 museums and cultural institutions. Learn how to apply.