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The U.S. Department of State Exchange Visitor Program allows academic institutions to welcome international students and scholars to the United States. Prospective exchange visitors apply for a J visa and enter the U.S. with the understanding that they will complete the objectives of their specific J category. There are three categories available to the University of Arizona (UA) community that can be used to bring individuals to the UA through this program: students, scholars and interns. Each category has different eligibility requirements and procedures that must be followed in order for the UA to maintain eligibility to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program.
The "Student Non-Degree" category allows the UA to exchange undergraduate or graduate students with partner institutions. Student exchange programs must be outlined in a formal International Memorandum of Agreement. They are also based on reciprocity and require an equal number of outbound and inbound mobility. Student Exchange agreements are appropriate when:
- The UA and a partner institution want to exchange a limited number of non-degree seeking students for one or two semesters.
- The partner institution's students want to engage in classroom-based instruction at the UA. Exchange students at the UA cannot focus on research.
- There will be demand from UA students to study at the partner institution. Maintaining such demand requires UA faculty to actively recruit outbound students. Student exchange agreements that fall out of balance must be suspended, thus active outbound recruitment is critical to a successful student exchange agreement.
The Student Exchange Program Application will help UA faculty and the Office of Global Initiatives determine the long-term viability of a student exchange agreement.
The "Professor, Research Scholar and Short-Term Scholar" category is appropriate for individuals who will engage in research or teaching while at the UA. J-1 status may not be used as a means of general employment. However, visiting scholars may be temporarily employed by UA as long as their primary activities are teaching, lecturing, observing, or conducting research.
This option is overseen by International Faculty & Scholars (IFS) and can be included as part of an International Memorandum of Agreement if a formal agreement is desired or needed between participating institutions. If not, scholars can also be invited independent of an IMOA. More information and an application can be found on the J-1 Exchange Visitor page.
The "Student Intern" category of the Exchange Visitor Program is available for UA departments to host an intern that is currently enrolled in and pursuing studies in an undergraduate program at an accredited higher education institution outside of the United States. A department may host a student intern for a period of no more than 12 months. All of the internship training must be physically located on the UA campus.
This option is overseen by International Student Services (ISS) and can be included as part of an International Memorandum of Agreement if a formal agreement is desired or needed between participating institutions. If not, it can also be processed independently. More information and an application can be found on the J-1 Student Intern page.
1) What is an International Memorandum of Agreement (IMOA)?
An IMOA is a binding, legal contract formalizing the terms of collaboration between the UA and one or more partner institutions. It must follow a specific format as required by the Arizona Board of Regents and the State of Arizona. It requires specific signature authority to fulfill the obligations and commitments within the document. The University's legal contracting entity is the Arizona Board of Regents. All IMOAs must state that the agreement is between "The Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of The University of Arizona" and the partner institution.
2) When is it appropriate to draft an IMOA?
An IMOA should outline a constructive new venture that reflects an institutional priority of the UA and the partner institution. This may include (but is not limited to) research collaboration, faculty/scholar exchange, student exchange and/or inviting international undergraduate interns to campus. Read more information about the various categories available through the Exchange Visitor Program.
Once both institutions have agreed upon specific collaborative activities that call upon the expertise or resources of either or both partners, an IMOA is required. In particular, an IMOA must be in place where student exchange is involved. An IMOA may also assist institutions in accessing governmental or other funding sources.
3) Are there other kinds of IMOAs?
Yes. Many IMOAs stem from either a "Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU) or "Letter of Intent". These two types of agreements generally outline the intent to collaborate on specific programs in the future. They need not be signed by the President of The University of Arizona, but rather the appropriate Dean of the respective college involved. The Office of Global Initiatives should also be involved with the creation and/or review of an MOU or Letter of Intent.
4) How do I find out if an IMOA already exists with a particular institution?
The Office of Global Initiatives maintains the Institutional Partners Database which includes information on all current, pending and retired UA international exchange partners.
5) If an IMOA does not exist with my potential partner, how should I proceed?
The first step is to review the IMOA flowchart which outlines the various roles of each department involved with establishing a new IMOA. Once the terms of your collaboration with the other institution are clearly defined, contact IA by calling (520) 621-1900 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The appropriate staff members in the Office of Global Initiatives will meet with you to discuss the initiative in more detail and determine how to move forward. Global Initiatives staff members will also assist you with the preparation and processing of an IMOA.
6) What if the partner institution has already presented an IMOA for signature?
Occasionally the other institution may initiate the formalization of the collaboration by sending either a draft IMOA or a version signed by its President or the equivalent. In either case, you should first review the agreement to be sure it includes concise descriptions of collaborative activities. After you review the agreement, please forward it to the Office of Global Initiatives for review. It is sometimes possible to add an addendum if some of the necessary legal language is missing. If the agreement needs to be redrafted completely, Global Initiatives will work with you to draft a new agreement in a timely manner. Once Global Initiatives has approved the agreement the standard routing procedures may be followed.
7) What if the partner institution has different legal requirements for drafting an IMOA?
There is usually not a problem including the necessary language for both institutions and their legal representatives. If problems should arise, they will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
8) How much financial detail should be provided in the IMOA?
Any financial obligations - including tuition support benefits, teaching or research assistantships, travel expenses, housing, medical insurance coverage, or maintenance allowances - must be specifically stated in the IMOA. If no such commitments are intended, a general provision should make this clear.
In particular, medical insurance coverage, and/or responsibility for providing coverage, is the responsibility of the individual participants or their home institutions. If medical insurance coverage and/or responsibility is being offered to or received from an international institution, this must be clearly stated in the IMOA. This is especially important in light of medical insurance requirements (September 1994) connected with the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.
9) Who is responsible for administering the initiatives outlined in the IMOA?
For research collaboration and faculty/scholar exchange, the academic unit at each institution is responsible for the implementation and management of the IMOA must be specifically identified in the agreement.
For student exchange programs, the sponsoring faculty must first complete the Student Exchange Program Application and discuss the program with the staff in International Affairs. If a student exchange program is approved, the academic unit is responsible for promoting the program and identifying potential participants. Students interested in taking part in the exchange program must apply through the Office of Study Abroad and Student Exchange. Students may contact an advisor by calling (520) 626-9211 or visit the Study Abroad at 888 N. Euclid Avenue, University Services Building, Room 301.
10) For what period will the IMOA remain valid?
All IMOAs should have a fixed period of validity. IA recommends five years as the initial period of validity. It should be stated in the IMOA that the agreement will be reviewed at the end date to determine whether it will be renewed. IA will monitor the expiration of all IMOAs and will remind individual academic units four to six months prior to the expiration of their individual agreements.
11) Should there be a foreign language version of the agreement?
UA units should be sensitive to providing an opportunity for the other institution to produce a second-language IMOA, which should be equivalent to the English language version. It is the responsibility of the initiating academic/administrative unit to provide appropriate translations of draft IMOAs.
12) Should the UA President sign all IMOAs?
All IMOAs require the President's signature or that of the President's designated signatory.
13) What is the difference between Study Abroad and Student Exchange?
Student exchange programs involve a reciprocal exchange of students over time and a commitment of resources on the part of both the UA and the partner institution. This must be clearly outlined in an IMOA. Unlike student exchange programs, study abroad programs, whether faculty-led or institution-based, involve sending domestic students abroad and do not involve a commitment of university resources.
Currently, over 25 UA faculty members take students on faculty-led study abroad programs each year and serve on an advisory committee that enables faculty to share information about best practices. If you are interested in leading a group of students on a study abroad program, please contact Study Abroad and Student Exchange at (520) 626-9211.
All student exchange and study abroad programs are administered through Study Abroad and Student Exchange. You can search for study abroad programs on-line.