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NIH Visiting Program Scientists

Visiting Program Scientists

Non-FTE to FTE Designation Conversion

The NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) includes both Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) and non-FTE designations. Common FTE and non-FTE designations are listed on our NIH Designations Chart.  Visit the Selecting an NIH Designation webpage for additional information. NIH extramural programs are not authorized to use IRP designations.

Summary of conversion process:

1. Institute or Center (IC) offers, and obtains approval for, FTE position

  • ICs have varying internal offer and approval processes. Contact the Administrative Officer (AO) and Principal Investigator (PI) for information on the viability of an FTE position
  • FTE job openings may also be listed on the  Office of Intramural Training and Education website or the Office of Human Resources (OHR) website
  • IC requests approval for FTE position from the NIH Hiring Controls Committee, if applicable
  • Upon receiving an FTE proposal, scientists are encouraged to contact DIS for guidance on next steps, including the J-1 waiver process, if applicable

2. IC submits New FTE Case Request to DIS

  • Case must include all documentation listed on the DIS checklist based on expected immigration status
  • IC must ensure all internal approvals are obtained before submitting case to DIS
  • Appointment must begin at the start of a pay period and should be a minimum of 13 months to allow for full benefits
  • To minimize risk of a gap in work authorization between the Non-FTE and FTE positions, we recommend submitting the New FTE case to DIS as early as possible. Ideally, this would be at least 6 months before the target conversion date for all cases, and 8 - 12 months in advance for cases requiring J-1 Waivers (see Step 3 below). At a minimum, cases should be submitted no later than the time noted on DIS processing times chart
  • Most new FTE appointments will be sponsored by NIH for H-1B status. Refer to our visual overview of the H-1B process
  • Scientists currently in an immigration status other than J-1 may be able to remain in the same work-authorized status as an FTE. After case is received, DIS will advise on appropriate status

3. If applicable, scientist applies for waiver of 212(e) requirement

  • All NIH-sponsored J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to the 212(e) two-year home residency requirement and must obtain a J-1 waiver before becoming eligible to change status in the U.S. or obtain an H-1B visa abroad
  • The J-1 waiver process is a personal application for which scientists are responsible
  • DIS will provide favorable sponsor views to Department of State in support of the waiver based on the FTE job offer, in line with the NIH Waiver Policy
  • A petition or application to change status in the U.S. cannot be filed until J-1 waiver has been recommended by Department of State

4. DIS processes immigration actions

  • Case is assigned to an Immigration Specialist (IS) who will be primary point of contact during the process
  • If required, DIS prepares and submits any immigration related petitions to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • Any required USCIS petitions or applications must be fully approved, and any necessary work authorization documents received, before the FTE appointment may begin

5. DIS issues FTE appointment clearance

  • After any required work authorization/immigration actions are approved, the Immigration Specialist arranges an Entry-on-Duty (EOD) check-in
    • Includes completion of Form I-9 on or before start date
  • DIS issues an electronic Notice of Action (eNOA)
    • The eNOA confirms final DIS approval of FTE appointment
    • Sent to IC, scientist, lab sponsor and OHR
  • DIS validates scientist's work authorization in NED (the NIH badge database)
  • If FTE position includes patient contact, Level of Patient Contact (LOPC) memo sent to the Office of Credentialing Services
  • DIS registers scientist for H-1B Orientation, if applicable

6. OHR issues final offer letter for FTE appointment

  • Scientists should follow OHR's instructions for onboarding, including New Employee Orientation and benefits enrollment
  • Contact the AO or OHR representative with questions on this part of the process

Revised 05/2021

DIS Info

​​​Service Hours:
9:00AM - 4:00PM ET

Non-FTE Check-In/EOD:
Monday By 11:30am (​in local time zone of lab)
Submit Remotely
Advising Services:
Drop-Ins and Appointments​
Document Pickup:
By Appointment
J-1/J-2 Travel Signature Requests:​
Submit Remotely
Badge Validation:
Submit Remotely