Volume 6, Number 5

October 26, 2010

The Communiqué is an on-going series of messages to departments who sponsor international scholars at Boston University. With the Communiqué, we offer information that helps in the processing of scholar immigration-related documents and petitions. We hope you find the Communiqué a useful tool in working with the ISSO and in successfully hiring and sponsoring scholars from around the world. Past Communiqués are archived on our web site. Click here to go to the archive page.

New Matrix of Titles Now Implemented for Academic Research Job Family

BU Transition to New Title Matrix Now Complete

Over the past several months, Boston University has introduced a new matrix of academic titles for positions that comprise the Academic Research Job Family (ARJF).

The transition to new academic titles for non-faculty research positions began as early as February 2010 in certain schools and colleges and, effective August 2010, the titles from the new matrix have been used exclusively for new research hires and for continuing researchers on both campuses.

The development of this new title matrix represents a move by the Office of the Provost and the Office of Human Resources to standardize job requirements and benefits for researchers across the institution. Certain research titles (including Visiting Scholar and Research Associate) no longer exist in the new matrix as the new list now more clearly distinguishes between positions that are compensated and uncompensated, and identifies which postdoctoral positions are funded by training grants. In addition, the new matrix more clearly outlines the number of years of related experience required before a researcher can be promoted to a more advanced research title.

A chart of the new research titles, including clarification on funding specifications and years of related experience required for each title, as well as instructions from each campus on the transition plan can be found on the Human Resources website under “Manager’s Toolkit,” in the “Compensation” section: http://www.bu.edu/hr/home/managers-toolkit/compensation/academic-research-job-family/

New Titles Impact ISSO Processing

The new titles impact ISSO processing in several key ways:

1. Title Accuracy Important for Immigration Processing

For the purpose of immigration sponsorship, reflecting the correct academic title and the minimum job requirements for the title can be very important, particularly in immigration categories such as H-1B, whether the employer is required to meet a specific US Department of Labor Prevailing Wage, which is determined based on detailed job requirements.

2. New Titles Better Clarify Funding Source and Compensation

The new Research Job Family Titles now distinguish more clearly whether a position is compensated or not. While the old Visiting Scholar was ambiguous on funding, the new Visiting Researcher title has been established for short-term uncompensated researchers, where the Visiting Fellow title is used for short-term compensated researchers.

While the Research Associate is now a legacy title, the new Postdoctoral Fellow is used for postdoctoral positions paid through training grants, and the Postdoctoral Associate is used for positions not funded by training grants.

3. Change of Title may Require Amended Employment Authorization

A scholar’s eligibility for sponsorship in a particular immigration category as well as the Prevailing Wage required in certain immigration categories are closely tied to the minimum job requirements for a specified position. In the course of modifying academic titles, it is important that hiring departments pay particular attention to whether the minimum job requirements specified on the matrix for the new title are different than the minimum job requirements for the old title.

Departments wishing to promote researchers to a higher-level title (for instance, from the old Research Associate to the new Senior Postdoctoral Associate) should be aware that a change in minimum job requirements may constitute a “material” change to the job for US Department of Labor purposes and may require the host department to meet a higher Prevailing Wage for continued immigration sponsorship in H-1B category.

Like any change to job conditions (including change in title, salary, location, hours, duties, supervision, etc), this type of promotion would need to be reported in advance to the ISSO to ensure that a modification of the employee’s work permission is not required. Instructions on notifying the ISSO of a proposed H-1B Change in Employment can be found at: http://www.bu.edu/isso/employment-internships/scholar-employment/

Job changes for employees in other immigration statuses, including J-1, must also be reported to the ISSO. A Form A and academic appointment, or other documentation, may be required.

4. Post-Bachelor’s Research Assistant Eliminated from Appointment Titles

One key change reflected in the new matrix of research titles is that the post-Bachelor’s title of Research Assistant is no longer available as an academic appointment title. For compensated employees, the lowest research appointment tile is now the Research Fellow, which requires a minimum of a Master’s degree or the equivalent.

Departments wishing to hire an international employee with a Bachelor’s as the highest degree, would need to hire the person in a graded staff position. The hiring process would need to following all standard HR protocol for filling a graded staff positions, including submitting a PS-1, completing the required job posting and background check, and obtaining a formal job offer through an HR Employment Specialist.

In instances where an international employee may require immigration sponsorship for employment, special authorization from the Provost would be required for the ISSO to commence immigration sponsorship. Non-exempt support staff positions graded 26 and below do not qualify for immigration sponsorship.

As the new research titles were introduced several months ago, the ISSO has been requiring academic appointment letters reflecting a new research title appropriate to the employee’s credentials.

We would remind hiring departments that, as the transition to new titles across the University is now complete, all immigration sponsorship requests for research positions – including those submitted for sponsorship extensions – should reflect an appropriate academic title from the new Academic Research Job Family.

Your Scholar Services team,

Olivia K. Whitman
International Scholar Advisor

Mari Kim
International Scholar Advisor

M. Andrea Popa
Assistant Director for Scholar Services

Jeanne E. Kelley

International Students & Scholars Office Boston University
888 Commonwealth Avenue, 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02215

Tel: (617) 353-3565
Fax: (617) 358-1170


Are you a new BU department contact or new host to an international scholar? Are you a BU affiliate who wants to receive the ISSO Communiqué? To update your department’s contact information or to sign up for the ISSO Communiqué, please complete a Department Contact/Host Update Form on-line at: http://www.bu.edu/isso/administrators/contacts/index.html