International Scholars

International scholars come to UAB from around the globe.International scholars, be they faculty or staff, play a vital role in cementing UAB’s reputation as a leading research university and health center.

International Recruitment & Student Services (IRSS) assists UAB and its departments in obtaining visas for faculty, research scholars and observers. This means that IRSS is the best source for information on all matters pertaining to an international visitor’s immigration status.

IRSS processes forms and petitions for international scholars and employees through the federal immigration service. The office also maintains and monitors work authorization for international employees. We provide important information on other matters, from obtaining an Alabama driver’s license to finding temporary accommodation on arrival in the U.S.

Everyone feels a little confused and has questions upon arrival in a new country, but IRSS brings together people and services to help you adjust to UAB. We pledge to support you throughout your entire time at UAB.

An additional service available through IRSS is our notary service. Appointments can be made Monday through Friday before 4 p.m.

General questions can be directed to

Immigrant Visa

Immigrant Status or Permanent Residence

Several options are available for obtaining permanent residence (green card) status through employment. The listings below are some possible options that the ISSS may assist the alien and the UAB department in preparing and processing the petition. Please note: it is university policy and procedure that all employment based petitions be reviewed by the IRSS prior to being sent to the Immigration Service. The university will allow the alien to hire an outside attorney to assist in processing their documents; however, the attorney can only represent the alien and not the university. Furthermore, all petitions are circulated for an extensive signature routing process to ensure that all interested parties are in favor of supporting the petition by the university on behalf of the alien. Contact the IRSS staff to obtain additional information on employment based-petitions.

Categories of Employment-Based Petitions
The ISSS may assist in processing these employment-based petitions:
  1. Priority workers:
  2. Extraordinary ability in the arts, science, education, business, or athletics
  3. Outstanding professors and researchers
  4. Professionals possessing an advanced degree (or equivalent ) and individuals of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business
  5. Professionals possessing a bachelor's degree, skilled workers, and other workers
Note: The IRSS staff may only provide advice to UAB departments and their prospective employees. Individuals not affiliated with UAB should direct their inquires to an immigration attorney.

For more information on immigrant visas, please contact Lisa Townsend, Associate Director, IRSS.

Phone: (205) 934-4383
Fax: (205) 934-8664


SIH 113
1720 2nd Ave S
Birmingham, AL 35294-1280

Physical address:
1600 10th Ave S, SIH 113
Birmingham, AL 35294-1280


Trade NAFTA (TN) Status

In 1993, Congress passed legislation for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The legislation contains immigration provisions for a temporary worker category for Canadian and Mexican professionals. This category allows certain Canadian professionals in selected occupations to work in the U.S. if they present a letter of offer from a U.S. employer, proof of their qualifications (usually a copy of their diploma), and proof of their Canadian citizenship at the port of entry. This status can be renewed indefinitely on a year-to-year basis. (Source: "Faculty Member's Guide to Immigration Law", Major Gooding).

J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

The purpose of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is to provide foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the U.S. and to return home to share their experiences. J-1 status is appropriate only for a foreign person who is coming to UAB temporarily to participate in research or teaching activities. If the person wishes to come here permanently, then efforts should be made to obtain an immigrant (Permanent Resident) visa.

The "Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement" applies to those Exchange Visitors who receive financial support from the U.S. or a foreign government, or whose skill has been listed by their country of nationality or last permanent residence as one in short supply there, or who are foreign medical graduates coming to the U.S. for graduate medical education or training. Those Exchange Visitors who are subject to this requirement, must return to their home country and remain for two years before either applying for permanent residence in the U.S. or a temporary worker non immigrant (H) visa. Waivers of the provision can sometimes be obtained, but only with difficulty.

Please note, the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is the sponsoring agency that can issue the non immigrant document for a foreign medical graduate who wants to pursue medical training. Under no circumstances should an Exchange Visitor, whose objective is to pursue medical training, enter the U.S. on UAB's J-1 program as a researcher/scholar.

There are limitations on the stays of the Exchange Visitors. Short-term scholars can only stay for a six (6) month period with no possibility of extension. Professors and Research Scholars can stay for five (5) years. Students can stay for the time needed to complete their educational objective and for a period of academic training.

The processing time for J-1 Exchange Visitor status is approximately one week. For more information and the necessary paperwork needed to bring in an Exchange Visitor, please contact the IRSS staff.

H-1B Temporary Worker

H-1B status is designated for aliens employed in "specialty occupations", which require highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor's degree or it's equivalent. H-1B status is valid for a maximum of six (6) years. An initial request for H-1B status may not exceed three (3) years. However, if the employment terminates prior to the H-1B expiration date, the H-1B petition is no longer valid and a notification is to be submitted to the Immigration Service. Consult the ISSS immediately if employment is terminated prior to the H-1B validity dates. The processing time for H-1B status is approximately three (3) months. The IRSS has an information packet detailing the H-1B process and the required supporting documentation which accompanies the employer petition.

Tax Information

Non-Resident Tax Information

UAB International Scholar and Student Services (IRSS) is designated as the UAB department responsible for:

  • Coordinating UAB’s effort to comply with tax laws applicable to alien individuals;
  • Developing procedures to implement the UAB Nonresident Alien Tax Policy; and
  • Determining the tax status of alien individuals.
Appointment papers and requisitions shall be evaluated by IRSS to ensure that a tax status determination has been made and entered into UAB's payroll system. These documents shall be signed and forwarded to the UAB Payroll Department by ISSS. IRSS shall verify the work authorization and tax status of alien individuals before payment is made to them.

IRSS shall distribute Pre-Arrival Packets to UAB departments containing instructions and forms requesting the information needed by IRSS to make tax status determinations. No payments shall be made to alien individuals by the UAB Payroll Department or UAB Office of Student Financial Aid unless approved by IRSS.
Non-Resident Alien Tax Guide

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