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Non-UC Visiting Graduate Students


Participation of Visiting Graduate Students (VGS) in research activities at UC San Diego is inherently beneficial for the University, its current students and faculty, the VGS, and the home institution. Not only does such participation increase UC San Diego’s international profile, but the inclusion of diverse perspectives accelerates the progress of research and enriches the campus climate. In addition, VGS may bring specific expertise to a given research problem that is not available on campus, and their involvement can strengthen and cement collaborative interactions between UC San Diego faculty and international colleagues.

A Visiting Graduate Student is a pre‐doctoral graduate student (PhD, MA, MS, MBA, MD, or DO) pursuing research at UC San Diego related to their degree program at their home institution. If you are currently enrolled in a graduate degree program at another University of California (UC) campus or at San Diego State University, visit this website for more information on exchange programs.

A Visiting Scholar is normally a scholar from another university, research institution, government agency or non-profit organization on leave from his/her home institution who visits the University for the purposes of participating in a University-sponsored educational program, cooperative agreement, or collaborative research project under the supervision of a UC San Diego faculty, for a short period of time. (see Visiting Scholars)


The University of California policy on Visiting Scholars and Other Visitors (APM‐430) may be found at:‐personnel‐programs/_files/apm/apm‐430.pdf

System Access

The appointment submission process for the VGS is through the Visiting Graduate Student Appointment System (VGSAS).  VGSAS is an online administrative portal and database.

To request Department Administrator access to VGSAS, an authorized individual (MSO) must submit a ticket to Services & Support or send an e-mail to  Once authorized, the Department Administrator will have the authority to assign users and user roles for the Sponsoring Department.

A user’s manual can be found under the heading Documentation upon logging into the system. In addition, staff who would like to be added to the Visiting Graduate Students staff mailing list can sign up here: Graduate Financial Support FAQs (see Graduate Student Financial Support Listservs).

Submission Deadlines

Domestic Visitors

  • Appointment material should be submitted and routed to the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs at least 1 month in advance of the start date.

International Visitors

  • Appointment material should be submitted and routed to the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairsat least 3 months in advance of the start date, and earlier for international visitors who require a visa.
  • Once the VGS Appointment Form has been approved, the sponsoring department or ORU will submit the appropriate visa paperwork to the International Faculty and Scholar Office (IFSO) at Global Initiatives. International students coming on F1-STEM should also note the new F-1 STEM OPT Extension Protocol below.
  • Students applying for J‐1 visas should review potential visa term restrictions at:‐facilitators/j1/index.html#Minimum‐Financial‐Support 


A Visiting Graduate Student is a pre‐doctoral graduate student (PhD, MA, MS, MBA, MD, or DO) pursuing research at UC San Diego related to their degree program at their home institution. The VGS must be enrolled in a degree-granting program or equivalent at an institution of higher education other than the University of California, and be physically present at UC San Diego for the duration of the appointment. The UC appointment must serve an academic purpose for the unit in which they are visiting. 

A VGS should be sufficiently advanced in their course of study at their home institution to be able to contribute meaningfully to ongoing research at UC San Diego without significant additional training (typically, in or beyond the third year of study, depending on the discipline). They should also be able to demonstrate sufficient oral and written language proficiency to enable them to participate fully both in research activities and in the social and cultural life of the campus.

VGS will not be permitted to enroll in UC San Diego courses for credit unless they do so via Extension, with payment of appropriate fees by either the student or their home institution. VGS may be permitted to audit UC San Diego courses with permission of the instructor. A VGS may not be enrolled in any degree program at UC San Diego.

Appointment into this title is not for physicians with patient care or researchers with clinical activity. For an appropriate appointment, contact the School of Medicine’s Dean’s Office.

Department Responsibility

Prior to the visitor's arrival, the appointment must be approved, via the Visiting Graduate Student Appointment System (VGSAS), by a Faculty Sponsor, the department chair or organized research unit (ORU) director, and the Dean of the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs.  

Acceptance of a VGS implies a commitment on the part of the host faculty member and/or department to provide, at a minimum, appropriate mentoring. Departments or programs with significant numbers of VGS should also consider arranging events to orient such students to practical and social aspects of campus life as well as US research culture, and to promote their continued engagement. In formal programs, it would be desirable to negotiate a contribution from the home institution to support such activities.

Titles and Appointment Criteria

Non-Salaried Visiting Graduate Student - Visitor Graduate (WOS) Job Code 003730

  • A non-salaried VGS receives financial support for their visit from their home institution (grant, fellowship/scholarship) or personal funds.  See “Compensation” below for support level requirements.
  • A non-salaried VGS does not receive financial support from their UC San Diego faculty sponsor. 
  • Workers Compensation coverage is not provided to a Non‐salaried VGS.
  • Effective August 2021:  Non-salaried Visiting Graduate Students must be entered into UCPath.

Salaried Visiting Graduate Student - Junior Specialist Job Codes 003329/003330

  • A salaried VGS may receive partial or full support from their UC San Diego faculty sponsor via the Junior Specialist Title.  Approval for this title must be requested in advance by submitting an appointment to the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs. See “Compensation” below for support level requirements.
  • All VGS are prohibited from being appointed as a Lecturer at UC San Diego or any title covered by the UAW/ASE contract with the UC system.
  • For payroll entry guidelines, please see Chapter 10: Visiting Graduate Students in the Graduate Student Employment Policy & Procedures.
  • Salaried VGS are eligible for Workers’ Compensation at UC San Diego if injured in the course and scope of their employment.

Terms of Service

  • VGS may be appointed up to one year at a time. 
  • Appointments may be extended up to an additional year without a break in service for a total of two years maximum with appropriate justification.  Departments requesting to extend a VGS appointment for longer than one year must attach a letter of exception to the amended application.  

Financial Support

Appointments Shorter Than 6 Months

  • All VGS engaged in research activities at UC San Diego, and appointed for six months or less, must have financial support that meets the J-1 visa requirement of $2400 per month.

Appointments Longer Than 6 Months

  • All VGS appointed for more than six months must have financial support comparable to that available to UC San Diego graduate students enrolled in similar disciplinary programs for the duration of their appointment. The source of support may come from their home institution (fellowship/scholarship or grant), personal funds, and/or salary from UC San Diego.
  • Please see the following chart for a list of financial support levels by degree major: Visiting Graduate Student Compensation Levels.
  • Regardless of the source of support, under no circumstances will the appointment of a VGS be approved if the visitor will receive support less than the minimum requirement for J1 visa holders. Under no circumstances should involvement of a VGS detract from financial support and/or resources that would be otherwise available to registered UC San Diego graduate students whether domestic or international.
  • An exception approval is required when a department is requesting a salaried VGS appointment above the amount paid to a registered UC San Diego graduate student in a comparable department. 

 Junior Specialists

Visiting Graduate Student Processing Fee

Each Visiting Graduate Student (VGS) is required to pay a $100 nonrefundable processing fee.  This is a one‐time fee that covers a period of stay up to 2 years. An additional $100 nonrefundable processing fee will be charged in the following instance: 

  • there is a > 30‐day break in the appointment period and a new appointment packet is required

There are two options to pay the processing fee: 1) upon arrival at UC San Diego, the VGS may pay the fee directly at the UC San Diego Cashier's Office, or 2) the Sponsoring Department may pay the fee via UC San Diego recharge. In all cases, the Sponsoring Department must supply an index number when submitting the original VGS appointment to the Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs (GEPA).

The processing fee is due on the 15th of the month following the appointment start date. For example, if the appointment begins October 1, the fee must be paid no later than November 15. If the VGS does not pay the fee by the deadline, the fee will be automatically recharged to the Sponsoring Department. For this reason, it is imperative that Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs (GEPA) is notified of any changes to the appointment period.

Application Procedure/Appointment Packet


All VGS must have a UC San Diego faculty sponsor who will host the visit. Prospective VGS should first contact the department chair or faculty with whom they would like to work and request an invitation. The host faculty and/or department are responsible for preparing and submitting the appointment packet three months prior to the visitor's arrival, in addition to preparing for the arrival (arranging for office space, if applicable). VGS may not enter the lab or university facility without an official approved appointment.

Dates of Visit

Start date of appointment should be a date in the future; GEPA will not accept retroactive appointment begin dates.

Summary of Research Project  

The proposed summary of research should include the specific activities and duties the applicant will perform during their visit


The following documents will be required to be uploaded in VGSAS as a condition of the VGS appointment approval process. All documents must be submitted in English.

  1. Current Curriculum Vitae
  2. Current Proof of Registration (i.e. copy of current transcript or letter from home institution) as a graduate student (PhD, Masters, or MD)
  3. Proof of Health Insurance, submit a copy of the completed UC San Diego International Center "Form C: Health Insurance Memorandum of Understanding"
  4. UC Patent Acknowledgement/Oath - The Patent Acknowledgement Form with original signatures should be submitted. The Patent Acknowledgement Form may be uploaded through VGSAS in lieu of the original in order to expedite the review process, and under the condition that the original form will be submitted as soon as the visitor arrives. The original form must be submitted no later than 30 days after the appointment begin date to prevent delay/denial of future appointments. For non-salaried appointments, upload the document, complete with VGS and witness signatures, in the VGS online tool. For salaried appointments, forward the original completed document with required new hire paperwork to Payroll at MC 0952.Any intellectual property generated by a VGS while working at UC San Diego remains under the control of the University. All VGS will be required to sign the UC San Diego Patent Agreement.
    • Once the updated form is complete, it can be uploaded to the VGS application for the visitor and kept at the department level. Do not send the completed oath/patent form to GEPA.

Export Control

Before agreeing to host a VGS from a foreign country, please review the information from the UC San Diego Export Control Office. That office can provide further guidance if there is a specific concern.

Appointment Extension

The appointment extension process for the VGS is through the Visiting Graduate Student Appointment System (VGSAS). 

The following document is required when the VGS/Sponsoring Department is requesting an appointment extension:

  • Current proof of registration and/or transcript from the home institution
  • Exception letter (if applicable)

NOTE: By UCOP policy, the maximum stay for VGS is a total of 2 years.  Extensions are only considered for VGS who have not met this maximum.  VGS exceeding the 2 year maximum may want to pursue admission to UC San Diego to complete their degree.

F-1 STEM OPT extension: New regulations governing the F-1 STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension are in effect as of May 10th, 2016. In order for UC San Diego to either continue to employ or hire new F-1 students during their STEM OPT period, the institution must meet new requirements. Students will be responsible for alerting their departments to their need for STEM extension support, and departments will have to decide to either meet these new requirements or sponsor students in an alternative visa classification that provides work authorization. For more information, see:

Health Insurance

It is required that all VGS have health insurance coverage 24 hours a day, including time spent at UC San Diego conducting research.

Effective September 1, 2014, this requirement must be met through:

  1. The UC San Diego Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan offered by Garnett-Powers
  2. Another insurer
  3. Be provided by the student’s home country

To enroll in the Plan offered by Garnett-Powers, visit or call toll free 1-888-441-3719.  Note: The VGS appointment must be approved by the Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs (GEPA) prior to enrollment in the Plan. 

If the VGS has other insurance, certain requirements must  be met to waive the UC San Diego Plan.  If the VGS is international with his/her own coverage, that coverage must also meet these standards that meet or exceed the J-1 Visa requirements, as well as provide this same coverage to the student’s eligible dependents.  The minimum levels of coverage that must be offered through the student’s own insurance can be found on Form C, here.

If the student’s insurance meets these requirements, he/she may request a waiver (to decline coverage) for the Plan.  Instructions on how to submit a waiver can be found here:

Benefits and Services

VGS will be provided access to the following campus services regardless of their source of support:

  • Campus ID card (see Affiliates categories, Visiting graduate)
  • Library privileges
  • Discount rates to special events
  • Eligibility to enroll in Garnett‐Powers and Associates Visiting Academic Benefit Plan
  • Eligibility to purchase RIMAC (recreational facility) card
  • Visa sponsorship (F1 opt, J, or B)
  • UC San Diego email account (policy varies by department)
  • Individual recharge accounts (policy varies by department)

Other Resources