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Visiting Graduate Researcher (VGR) Program for NTNU Students

Funding for NTNU graduate students to visit UCLA

NTNU students must apply for the UCLA exchange program through their home campus. NTNU must inform the UCLA Asia Pacific Center (APC) of names and email addresses of VGRs no later than 3 months before the start date of the quarter they wish to visit, to allow time for processing.

Once you have been nominated by NTNU, you will be required to complete the UCLA applications for a Visiting Graduate Researcher (VGR) appointment and a J-1 visa. Please contact Aaron Miller, Assistant Director of the Asia Pacific Center, at armiller@international.ucla.edu to initiate both of these applications.

VGR Application
You will need the following information to initiate a VGR application. Please send this to Aaron Miller:

  1. Name
  2. Email address
  3. Date of birth (month, day, year)
  4. Gender
  5. Will you need an Exchange Visitor J-1 visa? (yes/no)
    Note: If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (Green Card holder), you do not need a visa. If you do not have U.S. citizenship or permanent residency, you will need a J-1 visa, even if your period of stay in the U.S. is shorter than 90 days. Taiwan nationals eligible for U.S. visa waiver cannot affiliate with UCLA as a VGR if they enter the U.S. on a visa waiver; they must obtain a J-1 visa.
  6. The quarter(s) you plan to visit (fall, winter, spring, and/or summer, with the calendar year)

The APC will enter this information in the UCLA Graduate Division application system. After your faculty sponsor and the chair of the department approve, you will receive an email inviting you to apply online for a VGR appointment. The following will be required to complete the online form:

  1. CV
  2. Proof of Registration as a graduate student at NTNU
  3. A short statement about what you intend to research while at UCLA
  4. Payment of library fees (credit card only)

Proof of Registration: You may have NTNU’s registrar or equivalent office complete the proof of registration template. To be considered for approval, the proof of registration letter must include:

  • Official university letterhead, seal or stamp, and signature
  • Name, title, and signature of approving official from the university’s registrar or equivalent office
  • Program of enrollment (degree objective such as Ph.D. or MA)
  • Start dates of enrollment
  • Expected graduation date
  • Statement confirming that the graduate student is a currently enrolled student
  • An accompanying certified English translation (as applicable)

Library fees: The APC will pay your VGR fees except for the quarterly library access fee, which you must pay yourself ($28 per quarter). You will receive an email instructing you to pay the library fees. You must pay the library fee by credit card. There is no other way for the Graduate Division to process this fee. Once you submit payment, you will see a receipt screen that you can print for future reference.

After these steps have been completed, the APC reviews your application before sending it to the Graduate Division for temporary approval. If you need to make any changes after you have submitted your VGR application, contact Aaron Miller. You will receive an email when you have been approved temporarily by the Graduate Division.

J-1 Visa Application
If you need a J-1 visa, please work with the APC to obtain a DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility Form. You will use the DS-2019 to apply for the J-1 visa at your nearest U.S. Embassy (in the case of Taiwan, the American Institute in Taiwan). The DS-2019 takes two weeks for UCLA to process (from the time of submission of the complete package of documents).

In addition to the information required in the VGR application, the Asia Pacific Center requires the following information to process your visa:

  1. Marital Status
  2. City of Birth
  3. Country of Birth
  4. Country of Citizenship
  5. Country of Permanent Residence
  6. Highest Academic Degree earned (the degree before your current program) and the month and year it was awarded

You will also need to send the following documents:

  1. Scan of the photo page of your passport
  2. Proof of English language proficiency
    Note: This can be either an English language test result in the last two years - IELTS overall band score of 7 or above, or TOEFL score of 560 paper-based/87 internet-based - or a letter from your home department verifying your English proficiency. If you submit a letter from your home department, please make sure that it (a) verifies that you possess English language proficiency high enough to function daily as a Visiting Graduate Researcher at UCLA and within the local U.S. community; (b) is issued on letterhead in English within the past 6 months; and (c) includes the signature of a school official.

Once the DS-2019 is issued, the APC will mail it to you via FedEx. You will pay the SEVIS fee (US $220) and the J-1 visa fee (NT $4,960) and make a visa appointment at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). The instructions included with the DS-2019 explain how to do this. Please note that the AIT has two offices, in Taipei and Kaohsiung. You may make a visa appointment at whichever office is most convenient. AIT Taipei is located at No. 100, Jinhu Road, Neihu District, Taipei 11461 .

Health Insurance: The U.S. government requires that you obtain health insurance. Garnett-Powers is the company that offers health insurance coverage for international Visiting Graduate Researchers. The APC will pay for your health insurance and will provide enrollment information before your arrival. For information about the plan and benefits, please visit the Visiting Graduate Researcher Health and Welfare Benefits page. Please do not enroll in or pay for health insurance yourself. The APC will enroll for you and pay your health insurance charges directly to Garnett-Powers.

VGRs may apply for UCLA housing; however, space is limited and assigned only after eligible degree-seeking students. Please see this website for more information about UCLA housing and the Community Housing Office listings.

Outside of UCLA, here are some possible options. Finding affordable short-term housing in the area can be a challenge. For detailed information about neighborhoods near campus, please see the UCLA Housing Neighborhood Profiles page. Westwood, the neighborhood where UCLA is located, is usually very expensive. Popular neighborhoods in the vicinity that are a bit more affordable include West LA, Sawtelle, Palms, and Culver City, all of which have convenient bus connections to UCLA. You might also be able to find some reasonable options in parts of Brentwood, Santa Monica, and Venice. You can use these neighborhoods as search terms or search for proximity to UCLA’s ZIP code, which is 90095. Try these resources to search for housing. (Housing information is provided for reference only and does not imply endorsement of these services.)

  • Craigslist Los Angeles: This is the link for the general housing listings. Most apartments will require a one-year lease. More specifically, you might look at the sublet listings to find housing that is available for a shorter period. There is no fee to access Craigslist.
  • Westside Rentals: This site has many listings for apartments on the west side of LA near UCLA. While searching this site, you might wish to check the box for "Listings with month-to-month leases" (this is under "More Filters" next to the price range setting).
  • Airbnb: While this site tends to be oriented toward travelers, there are some longer rentals listed as well. Search for Los Angeles, choose your price range, and select Entire Home as the room type. Airbnb is free to access.

Please be careful when looking for housing. Even on reputable sites, you might see scam listings that look too good to be true or demand substantial deposits in advance. If in doubt, it is better to book a hotel or Airbnb for a few days and then look for housing once you arrive in Los Angeles.

If you don’t plan to have a car during your time at UCLA, check transit directions from apartments you are considering to make sure that your commute will be convenient. Big Blue Bus (Santa Monica) and Culver City Bus have several routes to campus. Please refer to UCLA Transportation’s Getting to UCLA page for details.

Course Enrollment
VGRs may enroll in UCLA courses for credit through UCLA Extension. The APC will cover tuition for a maximum of 8 units (for example, two 4-unit courses). Enrolling in courses through Extension for credit is done online but cannot be submitted before the first day of the quarter (for spring 2020, this is March 30). The form requires the course instructor to approve your enrollment online. In addition, enrolling in courses from some departments (including Asian Languages and Cultures) requires permission from the department office. Obtain the necessary electronic signatures and then return the enrollment forms to UCLA Extension.

You are not required to take courses for credit as a VGR. If the instructor permits it, you may audit a course. If you audit a course, you should discuss expectations with the instructor. In most cases you would be expected to attend the course sessions and do the readings, but you would not receive a grade or credit. Auditing does not require any formal registration.

Please look at available courses online before you arrive at UCLA as follows:

  1. Visit the UCLA Schedule of Classes page. Select the term (the quarter you are visiting). The default search is by Subject Area. If you click in the field that says Enter Subject Area, you will see a dropdown list of subjects. Either select a subject from that list or enter the first few letters of the subject in that field to find it. Then click Go. You can also search by Instructor or other parameters.
  2. The Schedule of Classes does not include detailed course descriptions. To see these, visit the UCLA Catalog Curricula and Courses and Courses Descriptions pages. Click on the name of the department and then the type of courses in that department you would like to see.

You might be interested in taking a Taiwan- or China-related course in the Asian Languages and Cultures (ALC) department. These courses will be listed under "Chinese" in the Schedule of Classes, even if the course does not teach Chinese language. To look up the course descriptions for these courses, go to the Chinese course description page. Graduate students are allowed to enroll in undergraduate-level courses.

UCLA will fund each VGR at no more than $9,500 total, intended to cover the following expenses:

  1. Round-trip airfare from Taiwan to Los Angeles
  2. VGR fees, including the fee for issuing a DS-2019, required for the J-1 visa
  3. SEVIS fee and any other visa fees paid by the VGR
  4. Course tuition up to 8 units
  5. Health insurance
  6. Living stipend of $3,000 (payment cannot be processed until after the VGR has arrived in the U.S. and applied for a Social Security Number, so please plan ahead so you have access to credit and/or cash to cover your expenses during the first month of your stay)
For more info please contact:
Aaron Miller, Assistant Director, UCLA Asia Pacific Center

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Published: Friday, April 17, 2020