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US REU programs sometimes accept "self-funded" international students. Such international candidates do not receive any financial assistance from the host university but participate in research.

  1. Would that classify as "independent research", under the B-1/B-2 visa category?

  2. For example, this University of Ohio page mentions:

    A visitor conducting independent research. Independent research means the use of University facilities without any affiliation or appointment. NOTE: a visitor with affiliation or appointment should consider coming on a J-1 visa, even if no payment is made to the visitor by the University.

    Per the US law, would an international REU candidate be considered affiliated with or appointed by the host university?

  • The U of Chicago does not make the laws. They are just giving you an overview of what the law is. – Putvi Nov 13 '19 at 21:23
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Self-funded participation in an REU program should be an acceptable use of a B-1 visa. The regulations do not define "independent research", but in §214.2(b)(7) prohibits using a B-1 visa to enroll in a course of study:

An alien who is admitted as, or changes status to, a B-1 or B-2 nonimmigrant on or after April 12, 2002, or who files a request to extend the period of authorized stay in B-1 or B-2 nonimmigrant status on or after such date, violates the conditions of his or her B-1 or B-2 status if the alien enrolls in a course of study.

"Independent research" in this law does not mean "research in a vacuum", it means "not in connection with employment" and "not enrolled in a course of study". The regulations also do not refer to "affiliation" or "appointment". A given university might impose stricter requirements on persons wishing to use university facilities.

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  • Your answer seems to contradict this. – S.D. Nov 14 '19 at 14:09
  • I'm relying on the law: that answer relies on a notion of "benefit" that isn't supported by the law. – user6726 Nov 14 '19 at 14:55
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If you are paid for the program, it would be considered employment and the visas you mentioned would not be for that. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visitor.html

There are other visas you can apply for though.

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