OVA Frequently Asked Questions


A department intends to provide the visiting scholar with a non-salary stipend compensation. What is the process?

If a department intends to provide a non-salary stipend for supplemental research expenses to the visiting scholar, a Stipend Addendum form must be completed but only after a visiting scholar arrives on campus.  The department routes the completed form along with a new Official Visitor Agreement Cover Sheet and Routing Form and a previously approved OVA to ORC&S so the signature of VP for Research can be obtained.

The purpose of the Stipend Addendum is to ensure there is only one contract with a visiting scholar and multiple agreements are not put into place that are inconsistent or contradict each other.

The stipend should either be a one-time payment or monthly. An hourly or weekly stipend should not be offered. US citizens are responsible for their taxes. However, for non-resident aliens, MSU is required to withhold 30% federal income tax on payments unless there is a tax treaty that allows to withhold at a lower, or no rate. If a tax treaty is utilized, there are additional forms to collect.

For more info on the process, please reference the MSU Office of the Controller and Treasurer information on nonresident alien payments here: Office of the Controller and Treasurer - Mississippi State University (msstate.edu)

The department should have the country of residence information available. If there is a tax treaty with the country which will remove or reduce MSU’s withholding obligations, Forms 8233 and W8-BEN, as well as an ITIN from the visiting scholar will be needed. If there is no tax treaty, a Form W8-BEN will be needed to set the visiting scholar up as a vendor and MSU will withhold 30% federal income tax on their income.

The stipend compensation cannot be processed until the status of the tax treaty is known and whether or not income tax is required to be withheld.

MSU (P&C) will process the stipend compensation through A/P if signed by a VP.

A department intends to change the dates or extend the visit of a visiting scholar already here. How is this accomplished?

OVA Addendum form can be used to extend coverage of the OVA to the length of the extended stay. Start dates typically stay the same. However, sometimes visitors arrive later than expected. The department changes the start date on the OVA Addendum to a later, actual date of arrival and changes the end date. If the dates on the OVA cover the revised period of stay, the Addendum is not necessary.

OVA Addendum can also be used to extend coverage of the OVA for an extra period of time, typically one year.

To change the dates or extend the visit of an existing visiting scholar, complete the OVA Addendum form as well as a new Official Visitor Agreement Cover Sheet and Routing form, and attach a previously approved OVA. Route the forms to ORC&S.

Our department would like to invite a visiting research scholar. Is a Professor Emeritus able to serve as the MSU Collaborator?

The MSU collaborator must be a paid employee so this would exclude Emeritus positions. If the retired Emeritus faculty member could be rehired, then that would satisfy the requirement to be a paid employee as long as they remain employed throughout the entire visit. 

Do Fulbright and Borlaug scholars need OVA?

Letters of invitation or (letters of intent from the host department) can be issued to applicants for Borlaug and Fulbright fellowships without processing an OVA first, but the letter itself should say that the invitation is contingent upon a fully executed and signed OVA. Should the applicant be selected for the Borlaug or Fulbright fellowship, the OVA visitor packet can be submitted by the host department at that time.

What are the documents to submit by the department wanting to hire a postdoctoral associate or a research scientist requesting J-1 visa?

Official Visitor Agreements are not applicable to incoming MSU employees who are foreign nationals seeking J-1 visa status, but ORC&S handles their DS-2019 requests.

The documents provided by the department for the incoming MSU employee requesting J visa are:

  1. A copy of Page up offer details showing: 1. required approvals and  2. accepted offer
  2. Scholar’s professional CV,
  3. A copy of current passport photo page, and any dependents,
  4. A new DS-2019 request form with signatures, (the signatures can be digital) – the last and first names of the applicant and all dependents entered in DS-2019 request form must match the names in their passports. A DS-2019 request form is located here request for exchange visitor certificate (msstate.edu)

Send packet to ORC&S for review via MSU Filelocker Filelocker (msstate.edu), vbj3.

The visiting scholar that we are trying to get has a green card. What is the process when they have a green card?

If a visiting scholar is a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR), also known as a green card holder, then they are a US Person and not a foreign national. They would be considered a domestic scholar. Include a copy of a green card with the paperwork.

Our department is in the process of hiring a Visiting Assistant Professor for one year. Is it necessary to develop an Official Visitor Agreement with Dr. Last Name?

The Visiting Assistant Professor is a hired position and as such is handled through the Human Resources department, not the Official Visitor Agreement process.

The Official Visitor Agreement is not applicable to incoming employees since employees are covered under MSU policies for intellectual property.

Can a minor sign OVA?

A department is interested in hosting a 16 year old high school student who would like to visit and do some unpaid work at MSU this summer. Is it possible to do an OVA with someone of this age?

A parent or guardian would need to sign the OVA on behalf of the minor. For youth on campus guidance, Office of the Compliance and Risk Management oversees the policies and procedures that would need to be followed. Under the Minor Protection Policy, the summer visit would be treated just the same as a student who was coming to campus to work on a science fair project or similar project. The adults involved will need to complete the required background checks and training under the policy. Click here to locate additional information about these requirements.