University policy for inviting international visitors to WMU
Interaction and collaboration with scholars from around the world is a critical component of a globally engaged campus, as noted in the University Strategic Plan’s third pillar. Western Michigan University encourages open dialogue and exchange between its faculty and staff and their international colleagues, including through invitations to campus. At the same time, an increased federal government focus and mandates on export controls regarding protected research and knowledge have resulted in closer external security scrutiny of campus visits by international scholars and other individuals.
In order to facilitate global engagement while maintaining University compliance with federal laws, WMU faculty and other employees seeking to invite international visitors to the university—including faculty, students enrolled at other institutions, employees of businesses, governments and other entities—must follow the steps listed below prior to extending an invitation to an international visitor, defined in this policy as a foreign national without United States citizenship or permanent residency status, or a U.S. citizen or permanent resident working for a foreign entity:
- Obtain approval for the potential visit from the unit chair or director, and college dean (where applicable).
- Submit an online approval request to the research compliance coordinator in WMU's Office of the Vice President for Research. Direct questions to Julia Mays, WMU's associate director research compliance, at firstname.lastname@example.org; (269) 387-8293
- If the international visitor will perform work or research involving or benefiting the University, the inviting faculty or staff must also contact the Immigration Officer (email@example.com; (269) 387-5873) in WMU's Immigration Services office to determine if the University may obtain appropriate visa sponsorship. Note: processing time for sponsored visa options may range from several days to several months, so it is incumbent upon the individual(s) who wish to extend the invitation do so with ample prior notice to the Immigration Officer. Failure to contact the Immigration Officer in a timely fashion to process any appropriate visa may result in the visit invitation not being approved.
It is important to note that these procedures apply to visits of any length, as well as to international visitors who are currently in residence at another U.S. institution, or traveling in the U.S. on other business or personal reasons. Following the steps above will help protect the host institution and the potential visitor from undesirable consequences, such as investigations from federal agencies regarding the visit, and other legal ramifications. Adherence will also serve to help the University comply with other legal mandates and protection of the research and work of the University and individual faculty members, students, and staff.
Examples of situations requiring compliance with this policy include but are not limited to:
- A university department wishes to host a group of students from country X for a week-long training workshop in research methods.
- A faculty member wishes to extend an invitation to visit the WMU campus to a foreign national research collaborator at another U.S. university. Or, a U.S. citizen colleague wishes to be accompanied by a visiting scholar at that university from country Y.
- A vice president from a long-standing exchange partner university in country Z expresses a desire to visit WMU to discuss expanded collaborations.
- A university unit wishes to have a foreign national visit to give a presentation or a workshop to other faculty or students, with or without providing a stipend or paying expenses.
Questions regarding this policy may be directed to:
Julia Mays, WMU's associate director research compliance, at firstname.lastname@example.org; (269) 397-8293 .