researchers from outside the United States come to the Medieval Institute frequently. The MI offers a warm welcome and exceptional resources. Because the medievalist community at Notre Dame spans a wide range of disciplines and research interests, most international visitors quickly find colleagues with similar interests.
Since the U.S. visa application process affects most of our international scholars, some general details are provided below.
For most non-U.S. citizens, an extended stay at Notre Dame requires a U.S. visa. Individuals should check the U.S. embassy’s web site in their home country for specific information about visa application procedures and timelines.
Most often, visiting researchers will need a J-1 or B-1 U.S. visa. In order to request a visa, usually the individual must obtain a DS-2019 certificate from Notre Dame attesting to their eligibility, pay a fee to the U.S. Immigration Service, and request a personal interview at the U.S. embassy in their home country.
It is VERY important that individual applicants determine the U.S. policies and procedures specific to their own country of citizenship for visa requests. The Medieval Institute can assist in this determination, but it is the responsibility of visitors to seek out accurate information on their specific visa needs.
The process for issuing the DS-2019 can take several weeks or longer, depending on the academic calendar and staff availability. Likewise, setting up an embassy appointment for an interview and the actual issuance of a visa may be a time-consuming process. Visitors are advised to begin this process well in advance of their expected arrival on campus, in order to allow sufficient time for all contingencies.
For most international visitors, the cost of airline travel represents a major expense, so advance booking is recommended. In order to apply for a visa, one must supply specific entry and departure dates to/from the U.S. and to/from the University. It is helpful if specific flight information is available for this purpose, but one must be cautious about allowing sufficient time to obtain the DS-2019 and a visa before the departure date.
There are no direct international flights into South Bend, so it is always necessary to make a connecting flight in the U.S. if one wants to arrive in South Bend by air. (Alternatively, one can fly into Chicago directly from various international departure points and travel to South Bend by motorcoach bus or train. See Getting to Campus for details.)
Connecting flights through Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Chicago are the most frequent choices. (There are no direct flights from New York City to South Bend.)
Note: South Bend is in the Eastern Standard Time zone (along with New York and the eastern seaboard states). Chicago is in the Central Standard Time zone, and there is an hour’s difference between the two zones. Thus, for example, 5 p.m. in Chicago is 6 p.m. in South Bend. As a result, transportation schedules between Chicago and South Bend make it appear that west to east travel takes longer than when making the same trip from east to west.
Most international visitors will find it useful to establish a local bank account after arriving at the University. If visitors receive funding from the Medieval Institute, they will be paid only by direct deposit to a U.S. bank account. The University’s Human Resources (personnel) department (HR) gathers the necessary information from each new arrival by requesting a voided check with account information. Many visitors find it simplest to set up a bank account with the Notre Dame Federal Credit Union since there are branches on campus as well as elsewhere in South Bend.
Opening a U.S. bank account is a simple procedure. Usually, in addition to photo identification, a new customer must present proof of address. Since newly arrived researchers do not usually have a utility bill or other proof of residence, the MI can provide a letter attesting to the individual’s local address. Once an account is set up, the bank provides a book of checks and a voided one can be submitted to HR.
Usually, visitors who receive MI funding will be required to pay U.S. taxes on their fellowship stipends. Some countries have specific tax agreements with the United States that permit an individual to recover the taxes paid. Visitors are advised to see the University’s assistant tax director, Becky Laskowski (732 Grace Hall; 574-631-7051), soon after their arrival so they can determine their U.S. tax liability and take the necessary steps in response.
For most visitors, the U.S. health care system is quite different than the system in their home countries. Human Resources provides an orientation and assistance in selecting health care coverage within a few weeks of arrival on campus. Visitors must purchase health insurance coverage privately or through the University for the period from their arrival on campus until the first day of the first full month following their arrival. After the first day of the month following arrival, qualifying visitors become eligible to purchase health insurance through one of the University’s health plans at a substantially lower monthly cost.
As noted elsewhere, housing near the campus can be expensive. International visitors should be aware that it is often customary to pay the equivalent of a month’s rent as a security deposit, in addition to the first month’s actual rent. Likewise, setting up utility services (e.g., water, electricity, gas, phone, television, Internetservice, garbage removal) usually requires payment of a deposit or installation fee, and some companies require evidence of a U.S. credit history before they will provide service. Such considerations make it particularly advantageous to accept housing through the Medieval Institute, if it is offered. (The MI does not require a deposit from its visitors for renting one of its properties, and all utilities are maintained in the name of the Institute, so no installation fees are incurred by the visitor.)
South Bend has a local bus service, TRANSPO, that covers many parts, but not all, of the city. Members of the Notre Dame community can ride the bus for free if they present their University identification card.
Taxi service is available, but it is usually necessary to call for a reservation in order to ensure timely pickups. Self-drive rental cars (usually with automatic transmission) are available for short-term hire at local car rental agencies and through the Zipcar on-campus, short-term rental program. Care should be taken to determine requirements for driving licenses and insurance before attempting to rent a vehicle.
Visitors may also find it helpful to purchase an inexpensive, used bicycle which can offer an alternate mode of transportation during good weather.
Bus service to Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports is available through CoachUSA, which stops on campus near the University bookstore.
Amtrak, the United States railway service provider, has a local station in South Bend, and another in nearby Niles, Michigan.
International Student Handbook (prepared by the Notre Dame International Student Services and Activities office; a useful introduction for students and others to local and on-campus visitor services, local and U.S. customs, and practical matters of daily life in the U.S.)
Insurance Coverage (options to the ND health plan)
Local Banks (consult the Yellow Pages phone book for names and locations)
International Student Services and Activities (campus office that assists international students)
South Bend Community School Corporation (responsible for local public school system for students in kindergarten through high school)
South Bend/Mishawaka Convention and Visitors Bureau (tourist information about attractions and community events in the local area)