US REU programs sometimes accept "self-funded" international students. However, do they also sponsor the student visa (J1 or F1) for the selected international candidates? Or do the students have to use a tourist visa? (From what I read so far, using a tourist visa for that purpose would not be legal as REU programs fall in the "internship" or "training" category.)


I noticed that the J1 requires that 51% of funding come from either the hosting institute or some external source. So I suppose the J1 wouldn't be applicable for international students. However, as far as I understand, the F1 is only applicable for students enrolled in a degree course in the US. So is there no visa that would be applicable for international students willing to participate in a US REU program? That seems contradictory as many REU programs clearly mention that they are open to international applicants. [Source]

  • Do you have any example programs that are open to international applicants? – Richard Erickson Nov 13 '19 at 21:57
  • @Richard Yes. – S.D. Nov 14 '19 at 3:04
  • It looks like the best answer is to contact the specific program(s) your are applying to. The answer is specific to them. – Richard Erickson Nov 14 '19 at 13:40

The short answer is that it depends. Some will support your visa application others will accept international students only if they already hold a visa (sometimes a specific type of visa).

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All official participants in NSF REU programs must be US citizens or permanent residents per the NSF REU homepage:

Undergraduate students supported with NSF funds must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions.

A self-funded student or non-NSF REU funded student would simply be an intern or student at the host institution.

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