University of Puget Sound welcomes international visitors and scholars from around the world. Lecturers, short term scholars and visiting scholars contribute a global perspective in the classroom and on campus. While in residence, Visiting Scholars pursue academic research and contribute to the intellectual life of the campus community.

Click on the following areas to learn more about preparing to be a visiting scholar at Puget Sound:

Pre-Departure Information

Visa Information

Arrival & Orientation

Housing & Dining

Finances, Tax & Employment


Opening a Bank Account

Pre-Departure Information

Health Insurance: Exchange Visitors are required by the US government to have health insurance coverage for themselves and any
accompanying dependents for the entire length of their stay in the US. The minimum required is:
1. up to $100,000 per accident or illness
2. up to $ 25,000 for repatriation of remains
3. up to $50,000 for medical evacuation to the home country
4. and a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness

For short-term scholars, Puget Sound has an approved International student/Exchange Visitor Insurance plan available for purchase, offered by LewerMark Insurance. A copy of this policy will be provided to you. The Lewer Plan does not cover dependents, so your dependent will need to obtain their own health insurance plan that meets the Department of State minimums.

If you are a faculty member and are eligible to choose one of the medical plans through HR, you should choose the low-deductible plan (the high deductible does not meet Department of State requirements); your premium will paid via payroll deduction. In addition, you will need to purchase medical evacuation and repatriation coverage through LewerMark insurance separately. You can arrange this separate coverage through our International Student and Scholar Advisor. Please read all insurance information carefully and be prepared to purchase insurance upon arrival in the US.

*International Scholars and dependents may be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

If you do not plan to enroll in Puget Sound's insurance plan for international students and scholars, you must attest that your plan meets the requirements outlined above. Furthermore, any insurance policy that fulfills these requirements must be underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of “A” or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-i” or above, a Standard and Poor’s Claims-paying Ability rating of “A” or above, a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above, or such other rating service that the Exchange Visitor Program may specify. Insurance coverage backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the Exchange Visitor’s home country meets the requirements. The plan may require a waiting period for pre-existing conditions as determined by industry standards; may include co-insurance in which exchange visitor may be required to pay up to 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness; must not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which the exchange visitors participates.

Insurance offered through Human Resources for Faculty do not meet the evacuation and repatriation requirements. Scholars can purchase this coverage separately through the Office of International Programs.

Failure to comply with insurance requirements will result in termination of exchange visitor status.

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Visa Information

In order to make your visit successful, please allow enough time for processing the documents you will need to meet U.S. immigration requirements. We request that you complete either the B visa or J-1 visa form (depending upon your visa classification) to ensure that we have the information required prior to issuing a letter of invitation or DS-2019 Form. These forms include a checklist of the required documents. Please contact our International Student and Scholar Advisor in International Programs (Howarth 215) for all questions related to visas.

Visa Application: Comprehensive Information about the Visa Process for Exchange Visitors can be found on the Department of State’s website: Exchange Visitor's are expected to to pay a $100 Visa fee and $180 SEVIS fee.

Entry to US: To enter the US in order to begin an exchange visitor program, carry the following documents:

  • Passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay
  • J-1 (or J-2) visa stamp. (Canadian citizens are visa-exempt.)
  • DS-2019 Form
  • Receipt showing payment of SEVIS Fee
  • Documentation and the source and amount of your financial support
  • **You must enter no more than 30 days before your program start date listed on your DS-2019. If you aren't able to enter the U.S. on or before your start date, please contact our International Student and Scholar Advisor to request a new DS-2019 and you will enter using the new form.

12 and 24 Months Bar: Time spent in the United States as an Exchange Visitor (J-1 or J-2) may affect future eligibility for future J-1 categories. Such periods of ineligibility are referred to the 12 and 24 month bar. These bars apply to the categories "Research Scholar" and "Professor", but do not apply to "Short Term Scholar" or "Specialist". For more information, visit this webpage.

2 Year Home Residency Requirement: As an Exchange Visitor, you may be subject to the 2 Year Home Residency Requirement after completion of your program. Exchange Visitor subject to this requirement must return to their home country and be present for a aggregate of 2 years before returning to the U.S. in immigrant status, H Status, or L Status.

Not all Exchange Visitors are subject to the two-year residence requirement. There are three grounds on which an Exchange Visitor can become subject:

  1. The Exchange Visitor’s participation in an exchange program was financed, directly or indirectly, by the US government or a foreign government for the purpose of exchange.
  2. The skills that the Exchange Visitor is coming to develop or exercise are in a field which the Exchange Visitor’s home government requested be included on the ‘skills list’ set by the US Department of State (DOS)
  3. The Exchange Visitor comes to the US to receive graduate medical education or training

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Arrival and Orientation

Arrival: Exchange visitors must report to the International Programs Office for introductions, orientation, and immigration reporting. Our International Student and Scholar Advisor will need to make a copy of your DS-2019, Passport, and Visa. She will also review your insurance policy and insurance bill with you at this time. Either our International Student and Scholar Advisor or your Faculty host will take you to get your ID Card processed.

Depending on your activities at Puget Sound, you may be offered office space, a campus mailbox, and library access. Your faculty host or our International Student and Scholar Advisor will guide you through this process.


  • Visiting Scholars are invited to attend International Student Orientation if arriving at the beginning of the academic year.
  • For visiting professors and scholars, check with your faculty host to see which faculty meetings or orientations would be appropriate for you.
  • I-Connect: new international students and scholars are paired with a Puget Sound student to ease cultural adjustment and transition and for Puget Sound students to gain new cultural experiences on campus. If you're interested in having an I-Connect partner, please let our International Student and Scholar Advisor know.

Transportation: The closest airport at UPS is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Airport pick-up service is convenient and available through Shuttle Express or Capital Aeroporter. A public transportation center is just 2 blocks from campus. To learn more about public transportation options, visit

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Housing and Dining at Puget Sound

Most of our visiting scholars choose to live off-campus. For short-term scholars, your department host or International Programs will help you find suitable housing arrangements. Puget Sound has one dining hall on campus and several coffee shops.

For professors or researchers, you will typically need to find housing arrangements on your own.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce has a useful site for persons relocating to the Tacoma area:

The following websites will assist you in estimating cost of living expenses in Washington State:

You should carefully budget for your expenses in the U.S. You should budget between $1000 and $1500 monthly for living expenses, including housing, meals and personal expenses. If you are in the U.S. with dependents, you should budget $500 more per month.

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Finances, Tax, and Employment

Working at Puget Sound: If you are employed by Puget Sound, you will need to apply for a Social Security Number. Short-term scholars employed by Puget Sound are recommended to apply for a Social Security Number in advance. You may do so at your visa appointment. More information can be found on this webpage. Any visitors not employed by Puget Sound and not eligible for an SSN must apply for an ITIN if receiving an honorarium.

Once you obtain a visa that allows payment of an honorarium or salary at Puget Sound, you will need to file tax paperwork with the university. In most cases, tax paperwork can only be filed after you are present on campus. IRS regulations require that the university examine and file the appropriate paperwork before any payment can be processed for our international visitors.

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Driver's License
All drivers must have a valid driver's license. You may drive with an international driver's license obtained prior to your arrival, or a Washington State Driver's License. You are expected to be familiar with the laws for driving in the state of Washington. A Driver's Guide may be picked up from the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL).

If you apply for a Washington Driver's License, remember to take your identification (passport, DS -2019, home country driver's license, university identification card) with you. You must also take a copy of your SEVIS registration page in a sealed envelope. Three tests are required: vision, knowledge of laws, and driving. The fee for a new license is currently $89.00.

If you need to learn to drive, you will need a learner's permit. Study the driving handbook and pass the written test first. You can then be issued a learner's permit. This enables you to drive with anyone who has had more than five years of driving experience. The learner's permit is good for one year from the day of issue, and should give you enough time to prepare for your driving test.

Purchasing a Car
You may purchase a car from a recognized dealer who sells new and used cars or buy from an individual advertising through the newspaper. It is best to take an international student who has had the experience of buying a car, or an American friend with you!

If buying a used car it is best to take it to a reputable mechanic and pay to have the car checked. He can usually tell whether the price that is being asked is reasonable, whether the car needs repairs and, approximately what the repairs will cost. It is possible to check on-line to determine whether a car was previously in an accident. Having this information, you are better prepared to decide whether or not this is a reasonable deal for you.

Vehicle Insurance
Vehicle insurance in our state is required by law. The cost of insurance varies based on the year of the car, its make and model, and the driver's age, gender, and driving history. Sports cars are always the most expensive to insure. Unmarried males under the age of 25 in the U.S. also pay more because statistically they have the highest accident rate. When deciding on a car, keep these factors in mind.

Opening a Bank Account

If you plan to open a bank account, the following banks are nearby:

Bank of America
3408 S. 23rd St.

Columbia Bank
2200 N. 30th St.
1959 S. Union Ave.

Key Bank
3917 N. 26th St.
3501 S. 19th St.

Umpqua Bank
2525 N. Proctor St.

US Bank
3916 N. 26th St.

Wells Fargo Bank
3607 6th Ave.

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