Outbound researchers

Going to the US

What you need to be aware of when going to the US.

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Visa or Visa Waiver

The type of visa you need depends on the purpose of your stay in the USA, not solely on the duration of the stay.

For stays of up to three months without engaging in work alongside a U.S. institution, you can the ESTA and Visa Waiver Program should your nationality allow for this. You can apply for this online without visiting the embassy. This is applicable, for instance, if you're planning to use library services or have work meetings with individuals.

For stays exceeding three months or if you're going to work at a U.S. institution, you'll need a visa. As an invited researcher, you'll usually apply for a J-1 visa.

The visa application process is a three-part procedure involving SEVIS registration, an online application, and an in-person interview at the U.S. embassy. It's advised to allocate around six months from start to finish to apply for the visa.

Accompanying family members (spouses and children under 21) receive J2 visas linked to the J-1 applicant's visa. Cohabitation status does not qualify for a J2 visa.

How long does it take to obtain a visa?

It's important to allocate sufficient time for the visa process. A realistic timeline for applying for a visa might be as follows:

  • January: Receive invitation letter from the U.S. host institution
  • April: Receive documents from the host institution and complete the electronic application form. Schedule an embassy appointment date.
  • May: Attend the embassy appointment. Receive the visa and passport one to two weeks later.
  • June: Travel to the host institution. Depart one to two weeks earlier to handle practical matters before work begins.
  • July: Start working.

Visa Waiver Program:

To qualify for the Visa Waiver Program, your intention must be to travel to the USA for a period of less than 90 days as a tourist or for a business trip. In this case, you can apply through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). If you have a valid visa, you don't need to apply for ESTA.

Numerous websites offer to apply for ESTA on your behalf for a fee. This is unnecessary. Use the official website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

Tax agreement with USA

The tax Agreement with the USA, Article 15, provides an opportunity for exemption from income tax during stays in the USA for up to two years. The agreement allows you to apply for a reduction in income tax, where you only pay the national insurance contribution (trygdeavgift) during the period you work in the USA. 

How to Apply for Tax Exemption You should apply for tax exemption before you travel.

There isn't a dedicated form for this, so the tax office has recommended using the contact form on the Tax Administration's website. In the contact form, you should make reference to the tax agreement between Norway and the USA, Article 15, and attach Letter of Invitation from the US host institution. The invitation letter should include a brief description of your activities, the period you will be there, and it must be signed.

You will receive a response to this inquiry through your inbox on "Min Skatt" or "Altinn.no." If your application is approved, you will also receive a new tax deduction card with a withholding rate of approximately 10%.

When you return to Norway or no longer have the right to tax exempt, you must remember to go to skatteetaten.no and change your tax card to normal tax deduction rate again. 

Remember, this is a preliminary approval for tax reduction. The final tax exemption must be claimed in your tax return by requesting a reduction in tax.

How to Request Tax Reduction in Your Tax Return

To be able to request tax reduction, your tax return must include a line item for income earned in the USA.

You need to amend your tax return to request the tax reduction. Go to "See all information you can add" and select "Necessary information and documentation for claiming reduced tax or national insurance contributions." Then, choose "Claim for tax reduction under the tax agreement."

Here, fill in the dates of your stay and submit the changes.

If your tax return doesn't include a separate line item for "income earned in the U.S ," you should contact the Payroll section through "hjelp.uib.no."

Employees traveling to the U.S. are therefore requested to purchase local health insurance as recommended by the host institution in connection with the visa application.

Please contact your faculty/unit regarding potential reimbursement of costs for local health insurance.

Health Rights and Health Insurance Requirement

Previously, HELFO had a partner in the USA that handled reimbursement of healthcare expenses for employees sent to the USA. This agreement was terminated in 2022. Otherwise, there is no change in the coverage of health rights in the USA. However, the employee must personally cover the costs and request reimbursement from HELFO. Alternatively, the employer can cover the costs on behalf of the employee. At UiB, we have suggested issuing our employees with a Eurocard with an increased credit limit to cover such expenses. We always recommend that anyone going on a research stay has valid travel insurance for the entire stay.

Since HELFO no longer issues sufficient documentation on health rights, your host institution may require you to purchase local health insurance, even if you have both travel insurance

Employees traveling to the USA are therefore requested to purchase local health insurance as recommended by the host institution in connection with the visa application.

Please contact your faculty/unit regarding potential reimbursement of costs for local health insurance.


DS-2019 "certificat of eligibillity for Exchangevisitor J-1 status" is an important document. This document comes from your sponsor and gives a brief summary of the period you are staying in USA. Everyone in your party will have their own form. Remember, this form must be signed whenever you are leaving USA within the timeframe of your Visa period. 

I-94 form shows an overview of your travels to USA. You can be asked to show this in paper formate. This can be downloaded online.  I-94 

Apply for Visa to USA online. You must meet in person at the American Embassy in Oslo for an intervju. See the American Embassy for more information. 

School system in USA

Choice of school may influence the quality of the school. There are several public and private schools in USA.    

The child starts in first grade the year they turn 6 (before school start). Before school start, the child will attend Pree-School or Kindergarten. 


Age School
5-10Elementary/primary School
11-13Middle school (Intermediate School)
14-18High School