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DIS Title Divider Administrative Staff Title Divider Pre-Doctoral Students
Administrative Staff
Pre-Doctoral Students

A pre-doctoral student is someone currently enrolled in a doctoral program who has not yet obtained a doctoral degree. The doctoral degree program can be either in the United States or abroad. If these conditions are met, the scientist may be allowed to conduct biomedical research at the NIH.

For confirmation of a pre-doctoral student's eligibility to participate in the NIH Visiting Program, a case for the scientist must be submitted to DIS. The case must include evidence of the individual's enrollment in a doctoral program signed by the Dean or Registrar on university letterhead. Upon receipt of the case, DIS will verify that the student meets all NIH and immigration policy requirements for participation in the Visiting Program.  

Post-Bacs and Masters Students

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Foreign national students are ineligible to participate in the NIH Post-Bac Program. Students who have not yet earned their master's degree are ineligible to participate in the NIH Visiting Program or the NIH J-1 Exchange Visitor program.

Graduate Partnerships Program

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If a pre-doctoral student's stay at the NIH will equal six months or more, they must register with the Graduate Partnerships Program (GPP), regardless of NIH designation. The NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education hosts GPP and monitors pre-doctoral students doing dissertation research in the NIH Intramural Research Program. The registration process includes the verification of an active Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NIH and the student's academic institution. DIS will verify with GPP that an approved MOU is in place before the student's case is processed.

The IC is responsible for making sure that the verified MOU is in place before sending a case to DIS. Full GPP application instructions are available for both GPP Partnership types: Institutional and Individual. For more information, refer to the GPP Handbook.

Immigration Status

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Students who are enrolled in a doctoral degree program in the United States are most commonly sponsored by their academic institution in F-1 status. If applicable, include evidence of F-1 status and work authorization in the case sent to DIS. For more information, refer to our F-1 Students webpage. If the student is outside the United States and requires immigration sponsorship, the Institute/Center (IC) can request NIH J-1 sponsorship.

Students coming to NIH for 90 days or fewer from overseas who are eligible for B-1 or WB status may be routed through the IC's B-1/WB Delegate program in lieu of sending a case to DIS. Consult the list of Delegates per IC on the DIS website.

NIH Designation Options

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ICs are responsible for choosing the NIH designation based on the student's purpose of stay and funding. The most common NIH designation options for foreign national pre-doctoral students are Special Volunteer and Pre-Doctoral Visiting Fellow. Please refer to the NIH Manual Chapters (Special Volunteer and Pre-Doctoral Visiting Fellow) to determine the most appropriate designation before sending a case to DIS.

Funding

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All NIH-sponsored J-1 Exchange Visitors must meet minimum pre-doctoral stipend levels as indicated in Appendix 2 of the IRTA Program Automated Fellowship Payment System Manual Chapter. Minimum stipend levels are adjusted yearly.

If a pre-doctoral student's stay at the NIH will equal six months or more, personal funds cannot be used as evidence of financial support. Stipend parity must be met, regardless of immigration status or designation.

Duration of Stay

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Initial Pre-Doctoral Visiting Fellow award duration is determined by the IC and can range from one month to two years. Pre-doctoral Visiting Fellow awards are generally renewed in one-year increments. Extension requests beyond three years require the Scientific Director's approval, an interview with the Deputy Director of the Graduate Partnerships Program (GPP) to establish a timeline for completion, and review by the Office of Intramural Research (OIR).

For more information, please refer to the NIH Policy Manual 2300-320-3.

Graduation from Doctoral Program

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Upon a student's completion of their doctoral degree program, the IC must notify DIS. The scientist may need to change NIH designation since they are no longer eligible for a pre-doctoral position. For example, when a Pre-Doctoral Visiting Fellow completes a degree program, IC administrative staff should submit evidence of the doctoral degree along with a Form 829-1 to convert the scientist to Post-Doctoral Visiting Fellow.

If the student will be absent from NIH to defend their thesis, consult with DIS to determine necessary steps. Depending on the duration and circumstances of the absence, DIS may request a case or Extended Absence Abroad form.

 

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