Welcome UVA Internationals


Once again, we welcome you as a new employee to the UVA community! UVA faculty and staff who are foreign nationals or new to the U.S. can find helpful resources on topics ranging from finance (ex: How do I open a bank account?) to health (ex: Who can help me as I choose a UVA Health Plan?) to getting settled in your new community (ex: Where will my children attend school?).

Cultural Adjustment

Adjusting to a new place can be difficult for anyone, and being a foreign national brings additional complexities, such as adjusting to a different culture and possibly learning a new language. UVA has a variety of programs and resources to assist with your transition into the University and surrounding community

Finance

Learn about banking, establishing credit, taxes, and more.

  • Banking

    Banking in the United States offers many options. There are large national banks, smaller local banks, credit unions, savings and loan institutions, and more. It can be confusing deciding which one is right for you and your needs

  • Establishing Credit

    When you don’t have a credit history, it can be difficult to obtain a credit card or other type of loan. To learn more about building credit, visit the following websites:

  • Taxes

    In the United States, a foreign national will encounter personal taxation via tax withholding and annual tax filing.

    Foreign National Taxation Services
  • Foreign Bank Account Reporting (FBAR)

    As a foreign national you may have reporting responsibilities for bank accounts outside of the United States. While the University has no role in the FBAR process, it does encourage its employees to determine whether FBAR applies to them, and take the appropriate steps to ensure compliance.

    Foreign Bank Account Reporting

Health

Your health is important to us.

  • Understanding U.S. Health Care

    In the United States, many people have health insurance through their employers. Health insurance plans vary in the following ways:

    • What the plan covers
    • How much the plan costs
    • Which doctors, providers, and hospitals are in the plan’s network

    For an overview of health coverage topics, such as understanding your health coverage, knowing where to go for care, finding a provider, etc., go to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Care page.

  • Selecting a Plan at UVA

    Eligible employees at UVA select a plan from the available options detailed on the Human Resources website. When you are selecting the right plan for you, make an informed choice. Consider your situation (whether you have a spouse or family you wish to include on the plan) as well as anticipated health expenses and needs for the year ahead. Then, meet with a UVA Benefits Counselor to better understand the options and choose the best option for you.

    Visit UVA’s Health Plan page to learn more about your options.

    J-1 visa holders who are employees of the University must select the UVA Health Plan Choice Health option for medical insurance in 2018. Federal government regulations prohibit J-1 visa holders from enrolling in the Basic or Value Health options, because of the deductible levels of those plans.

    UVA Health Plan
  • Getting Care

    Use the emergency department for a life-threatening situation. Primary care is preferred when it’s not an emergency.

    If you are on the UVA Health Plan, you’ll want to choose a provider in the plan’s network to receive the maximum benefits available. When scheduling an appointment with a provider, ask if they take your insurance. The UVA Health Plan is administered by Aetna. Check UVA’s Health Plan page for Aetna’s online medical provider directory, which gives UVA Health Plan members the most recent information on the doctors, hospitals, and other providers in the Aetna network.

Housing

There are a variety of housing options available in the Charlottesville area. Please see below resources for on-Grounds as well as off-Grounds housing. You are encouraged to make housing arrangements well in advance of your arrival in Charlottesville.

  • Buying or Renting a Home

  • Faculty and Staff Housing on UVA Grounds

    Faculty and staff housing offers the convenience of living on Grounds, where UVA employees and their families have easy access to University activities and community and community events. UVA offers faculty and staff housing in a variety of configurations and locations in the Charlottesville area.

    Find additional information regarding UVA housing and residence life.

  • Utilities

    Utilities may or may not be included in the price of a rental property. Home owners must arrange for their own utilities. When considering your place of residence, determine which types of utilities will be necessary, such as power, communications, and water/sewer. The location of your residence will determine which company offers services to that particular area. For a listing of utilities and associated companies, please visit City of Charlottesville - Utilities.

Immigration and Employment

Learn more about social security numbers, immigration documents, and immigration planning.

  • Social Security Number

    In the United States, a Social Security number (SSN) is a nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents. The number is issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration, an independent agency of the U.S. government. The Social Security number has become a national identification number for taxation and other purposes.

    Social Security number (SSN) is necessary to receive any income for employment while in the United States. While many nonimmigrants are eligible for Social Security numbers by virtue of their status in the U.S., others are not eligible for a Social Security number unless they are or will be working. The SSN is a lifetime number and can/should be applied for only once. There is no cost involved. Once the application is submitted, it generally takes 2-4 weeks for the card with the SSN to be mailed to you.

    Employment: You can begin work (and be paid) while you wait for your Social Security number to be issued. However, you must have applied for a Social Security number if you are employed in the United States or if you have received and plan to accept an offer of employment in the United States.

    It is recommended that you wait 10 days after your arrival in the United States to submit an application for an SSN. This 10-day period ensures that Social Security can verify your immigration documents and your eligibility for employment.

    For more information, please visit the Social Security Administration website.

  • Immigration Documents

    You have been issued a variety of immigration documents. They are all important, but for different reasons. Learn more below about each document and its importance for your immigration situation.
    While UVA is the sponsor of your immigration status in the United States and will assist with compliance and filing of necessary petitions, it is ultimately the individual responsibility of each foreign national to constantly monitor and maintain a valid immigration status in the U.S.
     

    It is essential that you provide copies of each of these documents to your University immigration contact, either Human Resources Compliance and Immigration Services or the International Studies Office. When a new version of any of the following documents is issued, it is your responsibility to ensure that the appropriate University immigration contact is provided with a copy.

    Visa

    Issued by a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad. It contains a validity period, the time during which you are able to travel to a port-of-entry in the U.S. (an immigration officer determines whether you can enter and how long you can stay). Your visa validity date does not reflect how long you are authorized to stay, and it may expire during that time. If you have an expired visa in your passport, you will be required to visit a U.S. Consulate or Embassy to apply and receive a new visa to enable you to return to the United States. The University of Virginia will be listed on your visa if they have sponsored your immigration status.

    I-797 Notice of Action

    Issued to H-1B, O-1, and some TN and E3 visa recipients. This document provides work authorization while you are in the United States during the period specified. It is also an essential part of the application materials needed to apply for a visa at an embassy or consulate abroad. The University of Virginia will be indicated as the sponsor for each of the visa types above.

    I-94

    Issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection upon your entry to the United States, this is the most important document governing your stay. The ending validity date dictates your valid stay in the U.S. It may or may not match the dates indicated on the other documents listed above, but it is of primary importance in terms of ensuring that you are in valid status in the U.S. You can access the I-94, along with recent travel history, at cbp.gov.

    Passport

    You must keep your passport valid at all times while you are in the United States. If your passport will expire while you are still in the United States, you must contact the embassy of your home country in order to make arrangements to have your passport extended. You will not be permitted to re-enter the United States with an expired passport. If you lose your passport, you should immediately take steps to have it replaced.

    To apply for immigration benefits, including an initial or visa status extension, your passport must be valid for at least six months past the requested start date.

    If you travel with a passport that has an earlier expiration date than the expiration date of your visa status, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may limit the duration of your stay in the United States to the ending validity date of your passport. The I-94 document issued upon entry to the United States provides the expiration date of your valid status in the country.

  • Immigration Planning

    Consultation is available with UVA’s Office of Compliance and Immigration Staff to provide guidance on employer-sponsored nonimmigrant visa and lawful permanent residency options for employees.
    Individuals should begin the consultation process early to ensure that there is ample time for consideration and pursuit of available immigration options. While the University monitors immigration status and assists in employer-sponsored immigration options, it is the responsibility of each foreign national to manage immigration status in the United States. For assistance, please contact immigration@virginia.edu.

HR Benefits and Services (non-health related)

The University supports employee career development, including education and vocational and professional development. Educational and career development opportunities encourage growth and commitment from employees, often resulting in greater engagement, enhanced capabilities, and improved performance.

  • Education Benefits

    You may be eligible for tuition benefits for academic and related coursework, including vocational and professional development opportunities.

    Education Benefits
  • Professional Development

    Career services are available to meet with University Academic Division employees and managers to advise on career development and educational, vocational and professional development choices. These services are available without fees; they are a benefit to University Academic Division employees.

    Career Development
  • Local Discount Program

    This program offers employees with UVA ID various discounts within Charlottesville and the surrounding community.

    Benefits
  • Miscellaneous Benefits

    Intramural-Recreational Sports Facilities

    Occupational Health Services

    UVA Employee Same Day Clinic

    Pre-tax Parking

    Savings Bonds and Treasury Securities

    Hoo’s Well

    Benefits
  • Volunteering Regulations

    Volunteering while you have a temporary visa status is generally not allowed, and violations may jeopardize your ability to remain in or return to the U.S.

    There may be certain circumstances under which volunteering is allowed. Regulations are noted below, but we ask that you contact Human Resources Compliance and Immigration Services (HRCIS) for guidance.

    A foreign national cannot perform work as a volunteer in a position that would normally be a paid position or if the foreign national believes that some form of compensation will follow. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) views such volunteering as “work” and requires proper employment authorization issued by that agency. This specifically includes volunteering by a foreign national for a trial period leading up to compensated employment.

    An applicant for a change of status may not offer his or her services to a prospective employer, even on a volunteer basis. The employment is unauthorized as long as the alien derives any benefit from it. (Lawrence J. Weinig, INS Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Adjudications, 66 NO. 19 Interpreter Releases 539)

    In addition, the volunteer rule may give rise to a number of potential abuses. For example, may an employer lawfully suggest to an alien that he or she should do a period of “volunteer” work while the employer is deciding whether or not to file a nonimmigrant visa petition or a labor certification application? Recently, the INS indicated that an applicant for change in nonimmigrant status could not offer his or her services to a prospective employer on a ‘volunteer’ basis. The INS has stated that “if any type of benefit could accrue to the alien, though it may not be wages or fringe benefits, the services will be considered unauthorized employment.” (89-05 Immigr. Briefings 1)

    Volunteer services for a prospective employer constitute unauthorized employment if the alien will ultimately derive some benefit from the work. The ultimate question in most volunteer cases will be: What did the alien expect in return? If he or she expected compensation, reward, or future benefit, then the volunteer work probably violates status. (95-05 Immigr. Briefings 1)

  • Schools and Child Care

    School Enrollment
    Children between the ages of 5 and 18 are required to attend school, whether it’s public school, home-school, or private school. All children in the United States are entitled equal access to a basic public elementary and secondary education regardless of race, color, national origin, citizenship, immigration status, or the status of their parents/guardians.
     

    Schools
    The public school your child may attend depends on where you live. The local public school systems includes Charlottesville City, Albemarle County, Augusta County, Greene County, and Nelson County.

    Moving and Relocation

Travel as a Non-U.S. Citizen

Travel requirements for non-citizens vary based on your destination and the country of citizenship of the traveler. Please follow the link below for general information, and contact Human Resources Compliance and Immigration Services (HRCIS) if you need further clarification for specific travel plans.

  • Within the United States and Associated Territories

    For travel within the United States, we recommend you carry your valid passport with I-94 document and a copy of your I-797 approval notice.

  • Traveling to Canada and Mexico

    You may need a visa to enter Canada or Mexico, as they each have their own immigration systems and individual agreements with countries regarding visas.

  • Reentering the U.S. in H-1B status from Canada and Mexico: Automatic Visa Revalidation (AVR)

    A valid U.S. entry visa is not required to reenter the United States if you travel to Canada or Mexico for fewer than 30 days. If a person in H-1B status enters the United States from either of these countries after an absence from the U.S. not exceeding 30 days, the entry visa is considered automatically extended to the date of re-entry.

    • To use AVR, do not surrender your I-94 card when departing the U.S. Inform airline personnel or officials that you are using AVR.
    • AVR is not available for citizens of Iran, Syria, Sudan, or Cuba. This is subject to change if a country is designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
    • AVR is not valid for individuals who travel from Canada or Mexico to any other country and return to the United States via Canada or Mexico.
    • AVR will not be available if you apply for a new U.S. visa in Canada or Mexico. If you apply for a visa it must be approved before you reenter the United States. If the visa is denied you must return to your home country to obtain a new visa. If the visa requires a security check you must wait until it is issued before reentering the U.S. You cannot reenter the U.S. while the visa application is pending.
  • Travel to the United States from other countries

    When returning to the United States from abroad, you should bring the following documents

    • Valid passport
    • Valid H-1B visa
    • I-797 Approval Notice
    • Copy of your entire H-1B petition
    • Last three paystubs
    • Employment Confirmation Letter from your department (template below)

    Employment Confirmation Template

    [DATE]

    To Whom It May Concern: RE: Employment Verification of [Full Name] This letter is written to confirm that [Full Name] will be employed with the University of Virginia, [Department Name], pursuant to the terms and conditions of our approved H-1B petition. [Full Name] will be employed in the position of [Job Title] at an annual salary of [Wage Rate].

    Sincerely,

    [Name of Department Administrator/Department Contact] [Job Title]

    Upon your return to the United States:
    Please send a copy of your new I-94 record and new visa to Human Resources Compliance and Immigration Services at immigration@virginia.edu.

  • Travel Warning

    Security screenings, known as Administrative Processing, of foreign nationals at U.S. Consulates abroad are a potential issue of concern to foreign national employees who are traveling. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) conduct reviews of international visitors at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad, at airports, and at border crossing posts with Canada and Mexico. The U.S. State Department processing time for a security screening at a consulate can be as long as 12 weeks, with no option available for expediting the process.

    Please be aware that if a foreign national is selected for additional security screening, the University of Virginia has no ability to appeal, expedite, or conduct a status inquiry regarding processing of the case.

    Foreign nationals, in consultation with their department if appropriate, should make their own decisions regarding travel. HR Compliance and Immigration Services advises undertaking travel abroad with the understanding that return to the Unites States may be significantly delayed, and that all foreign nationals traveling should be certain to carry documentation supporting their current visa status.

  • Dependents with you

    Dependents of H-1B visa holders may apply for H-4 status as spouses and minor children. For dependents outside the United States, application for H-4 status is completed at the appropriate U.S. Consulate or Embassy. No prior approval is needed, and dependents should apply following application instructions on the Consulate nonimmigrant visa website.

    Dependents of H-1B visa recipients currently in the United States may apply for H-4 change of status or extension by filing the I-539 form, available on the USCIS website.

    H-4 dependents are not allowed to be employed, and their duration and eligibility of stay is governed by the status of the H-1B visa recipient through which they attained their dependent H-4 status.

  • Family Visiting You

    Short, temporary visits by relatives to foreign national employees holding nonimmigrant visas are considered tourism visits, and may require application for a tourist visa at the available U.S. Consulate. Application requirements vary widely by country, and interested travelers should consult the local U.S. Consulate website for guidance on visiting the United States.

  • Applying for an H-1B Visa

    If you are coming to the University of Virginia from abroad, you will need to apply for an H-1B visa to enter the Unites States. To do so, you will need to make an appointment with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Please refer to the website of the U.S. Embassy where you intend to apply for more information on the application process and required documents. The exact visa application procedures and timelines vary from country to country, therefore the website of the consulate is the best reference for current application information.

    Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirement. Canadian citizens should present themselves at a Port of Entry for admission to the Unites States in H-1B status.

    H-1B Visas

Transportation

Students, faculty, and staff can ride the University buses and Charlottesville buses fare-free with their UVA IDs. Other transportation options such as Zip Cars and the UBike Bike Share are also available.

Helpful Resources

Learn more about the history related to UVA and resources about the surrounding area. Stay connected with what is going on at UVA through the official mobile app and calendar of events.

UVA Facts at a Glance

A-Z Index of International Sites at UVA

UVA Staff Senate Resources Site

Guide to UVA and Area

Charlottesville and Beyond

City of Charlottesville