Broadening Perspectives The International Visitor Program by ForestService

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									Broadening Perspectives - The International Visitor Program

March 21, 2008

Broadening Perspectives - The International Visitor Program
By Brenda Dean, International Visitor Program Coordinator

The Forest Service hosts hundreds of international visitors each year. While tourist groups, backpackers or conference attendees might first come to mind, many international visitors are actually behind the scenes contributing to important research and forest management efforts here in the United States. During their time here, these visitors gain experience, knowledge and skills they will apply to their professional and academic work back at home.
(right: Carlos Vinueza, wildlife biologist from Guayaquil, Ecuador leads conservation education programs about migratory birds with preschoolers in McKenzie River, Ore. McKenzie River Ranger Station, Willamette National Forest. Host: Ruby Seitz, Wildlife Biologist.)

The Forest Service International Visitor Program (IVP) allows agency offices and partners across the country to invite researchers, professionals and students to engage in short- and long-term technical and cultural exchange activities. Forest Service units and international visitors alike benefit from this professional and personal interaction with opportunities to share ideas and perspectives from around the globe. Dan Tyers, Wildlife, Wilderness and Trails Program Manager for the Gardiner Ranger District of the Gallatin National Forest has hosted many international visitors on its backcountry crews that are responsible for wildlife studies. “As my career progresses, I am more and more convinced that providing meaningful mentorship and career advantages for others in one of the best forms of public service,” he said. “Seeing the benefit derived for the international visitors who participate in our program is very fulfilling, as is observing the value of exposing the 25 or so American folks on the crew to other cultures.”

Peter Beidermann, an Austrian scientist collaborating with Dr. Kier Leipzig, reflected on his recent 4-month stay at the Southern Research Station and his research on the Ambrosia beetle. “I learned a lot of new techniques on how to identify and culture fungi. I could do a lot of fascinating experiments, because the institute was perfectly equipped…I got much more out of this visit than I expected. It was great! People from the Forest Service were very helpful.”
(left: Jacques Talbot, from London, United Kingdom - student at University College Falmouth, broadening his experience in natural resource management. L to r: Jacques Talbot; Jeanette Langston; Katie Isacksen. On river patrol on the Snake River, Jackson Ranger District, Jackson, Wyo. Click to enlarge.)

The Visa
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Broadening Perspectives - The International Visitor Program

As an official sponsor of the State Department’s Exchange Visitor Program, the International Programs Office facilitates the invitation of research scholars, specialists and student interns. The special J-1 Exchange Visitor visa classification allows these guests the opportunity to work and live in the United States for periods lasting from a few days up to five years, depending on the J-1 Program category. These programs may be funded by the Forest Service, its partners, the visitor’s organization, home government, special grants or any combinations of these sources. The J-1 Exchange Visitor program allows participants to engage in work, educational and volunteer activities for which they may receive maintenance allowances. International Programs facilitates the invitation of international J-1 Exchange visitors and provides numerous services for them including international travel arrangements, insurance coverage, and maintenance allowance payments to visitors by check or through the hassle-free debit card program. As immigration regulations are complex, the IVP staff assists Forest Service units with understanding what is and isn’t permissible for each visa classification and advising units on how to avoid violations of immigration, labor and tax laws. In addition, IVP staff record the Agency’s international visits in its database and coordinate security clearance name checks through the Agricultural Research Service Office of Homeland Security, as mandated by the Department of Agriculture. (right: Dr. Gaosheng
Wang, an Associate Professor from TianJin University of Science and Technology, TianJin, China conducting research on papermaking technology as related to improving paper performance. Forest Products Laboratory. Host: Junyong Zhu, Ph.D. Click to enlarge.)

It is best to discuss program activities with the IVP Coordinator at least 8-12 weeks prior to any visit, so visitors can be advised to apply for the appropriate visa. International Programs issues a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status, which the prospective program participants must present to the US Consulate in their home country with their J-1 visa application. In general, B-1 (business) and B-2 (tourist) visa holders are prohibited from long-term stays, working and volunteering. Reimbursements or any payments are strictly forbidden for B-2 visa holders. The initial process for hosting a J-1 Exchange Visitor includes emailing the following forms and documents to Brenda Dean, International Visitor Program Coordinator: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) Form ARS-230 (completed by visitor) Visitor’s passport page Visitor’s resume Proof of funding from sources other than the USFS (grant letters, bank statements, etc.) Host Application Form/DS-2019 Request Form Copy of Draft Invitation Letter

If B-1 visa holders are approved to engage in activities which allow access to USDA facilities beyond a short meeting, a Form ARS-230, the passport page and invitation letter must be submitted. To learn more about the IVP, associated services and the J-1 program requirements, please view our Web site. or contact Brenda Dean, International Visitor Program Coordinator at (202) 219-9774. Home | Past Issues | Contacts | Writer's Guidelines

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