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NINE Visitor Instructions

2020 NINE Cohort - Charlottesville, Virginia -  1 June - 31 July 2020

We hope that this information will help you prepare for your visit to NRAO.  Please note that information on this page may change, so check it regularly for updates.

General Information

The 2020 NINE Program Manager is Anja Fourie (afourie@nrao.edu).

The Science and Technical Manager is Dr Brian Kent (bkent@nrao.edu).

The Director of Diversity & Inclusion is Lyndele von Schill (lvonschi@nrao.edu).

Administrative support for the NINE program is provided by Isabella (Issi) Marsh (imarsh@nrao.edu).

NRAO Headquarters is located at 520 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903.

Non-U.S. citizens and non-resident aliens

The following information is intended to guide you through the visa process and beyond. If anything is unclear, please send an email to odi@nrao.edu

Obtaining your visa

You will be entering the country on a B1/B2 visa.

Generally, this is the sequence of events:

    • You will receive:
      • an invitation letter from NRAO, that will include:
        • beginning and end date of training period;
        • details about reimbursement for actual expenses while in training at NRAO;
        • confirmation that NRAO will cover your round-trip, economy-class ticket, from the nearest international airport (on a US carrier); and
        • essential information about the type of training that you will receive.
      • You will obtain an appointment with the US Consulate in your home country for the visa interview.


        Once you have received your visa

          Flight Information

          Once you have received your letter of invitation, and have obtained your visa, NRAO will purchase for you a non-refundable, round-trip, economy class ticket, on a US carrier. Note that it is very important that you are able to travel on the dates provided in the letter of invitation. Whenever possible, in order to obtain the lowest airfares, we will try to purchase your ticket at least 30 days before your scheduled departure date. NRAO will pay for travel from the nearest international airport.

          For NINE visits scheduled to begin 1 June 2020, our goal is to be able to purchase your tickets no later than 1 May 2020.

          We will need the following:

          • Your full name exactly as it appears on your passport;
          • Your date of birth (month, date, year);
          • Gender (We ask this only as some airlines require this information to book a ticket online).
          • Your country of citizenship;
          • Your cellphone number while traveling (if available);
          • Departure airport (please use the closest international airport); and
          • Preferred email address.

          Once this information is received:

          • Issi Marsh will send to you, at the email address you provided, a proposed itinerary. It is very important that you review the itinerary carefully for any errors, making sure that your name is spelled correctly (and appears as it will on your travel documents), that the dates of travel are correct, and that departure and arrival airports are correct. These tickets are non-refundable, and changes can cause significant additional charges, so please be sure that the itinerary is correct.
          • When you have reviewed the itinerary, let Issi know immediately about any necessary changes. If the itinerary is accurate, you must send Issi an email confirming that the ticket may be purchased. She will not issue the ticket without your email confirmation.
          • Please be aware that, once the ticket is issued, if changes to the ticket are made due to events other than medical causes, you will need to pay the change fees to NRAO.
          • Please Note: The NRAO is a federally-funded research facility, and reserves the right to postpone and/or cancel the 2020 NINE Program, or implement the NINE Program via video conferencing, should the progression of COVID-19 necessitate a travel ban/shut-down by the NRAO.


            Required Forms

            Please complete and return the following documents:


            Additional Required Tasks


            Your Reimbursement

            Because this is a training program, you will receive reimbursement for travel expenses in the form of four checks issued every two weeks, the first of which will be ready when you arrive in Charlottesville. If you would like to have this reimbursement direct-deposited into your US bank account, please let Issi know as soon as possible, and submit the Direct Deposit Form (see link above).

              Information about Accommodations

              Please see your offer letter for details. In general, NRAO will either:

              (1) obtain and pay directly for your housing in Charlottesville, if you are an undergraduate; OR

              (2) ask that you identify and obtain your own housing elsewhere in the City, if you are not an undergraduate and/or have unique requirements. In the second case, we can assist with the process, and can likely arrange to directly pay the rental fees.


                What to Bring

                International visitors are advised to bring a 2nd form of official picture ID (along with your passport). This will help you if you decide to open a bank account.


                      When you Arrive (For International Visitors)

                      Upon your arrival, several things will happen within the first few days:

                      Cashing first stipend check/opening bank account

                      Bank of America, Barracks Road Shopping Center

                      Meet with IT staff member for computing security briefing



                            Q. Will I need a bank account?

                            A.  Yes. Your first reimbursement payment will be waiting for you when you arrive. Bank of America will allow you to open a bank account without a Social Security Number (SSN). Please note that banks will likely charge a monthly fee for your account (typically $10-14), and will require that you keep the account open for at least 6-7 months.  Even if you cancel the account when you leave, you will still need to pay the monthly fees equal to the 6-7 months. If you don't want to open an account, it is possible that the bank will cash your checks for a fee.

                            Q. What should I know about NRAO office practices?

                            A.  NRAO is officially open between 8:30 and 5:00pm, Monday through Friday, and these are our typical working hours. Unless you have made other arrangements with Anja Fourie, you should plan to be in the building during those hours. Lunch breaks are usually taken between 12 and 12:30pm.  Attire is generally business casual.  It is likely not necessary to purchase special clothing to wear to the office.

                            Q.  Is there a canteen or kitchen at NRAO?

                            A.  Yes. Our sites have kitchens with refrigerators, microwaves and sinks. Other things to note:

                            • The coffee in the coffee pot, creamer, sugar, and tea that is set up by the coffee pot is free. You may help yourself.
                            • If there is an espresso or Keurig machine, coffee is not free. Please check signage to see how to pay.
                            • Bottled water is not provided to the staff. Water fountains and sinks are available throughout the building. If you see bottled water, someone has purchased it and you should ask before taking. Assume that you should purchase and bring your own in rather than ask someone for theirs.
                            • Food in the refrigerators is privately owned and should not be taken. You may place your own purchased food in the refrigerators with the expectation that others will not take it.
                            • Occasionally, leftovers from official business meetings will be made available to all staff on a first-come, first-serve basis. This opportunity will be advertised via email.
                            • The food trucks that may come to the front of the building at lunch are pay-your-own-way.

                            Q. What kinds of business supplies are made available?

                              A.  Business supplies (paper, pens, markers, scissors, etc.) are available for your use at the workplace only and should not be taken home. If you need special supplies, let Anja know.

                              Q. Where can I learn more about Charlottesville, Virginia?

                              A. http://www.visitcharlottesville.org/

                              Q. Where can I find information about available housing?

                              A. Some suggested places to look include:

                              Q. What should I consider when looking for housing?

                              A. Considerations include:

                              • distance from NRAO, if you are not planning to rent a car (we cannot reimburse rental car expenses). The address is 520 Edgemont Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22903
                              • Charlottesville in the summer can be hot and humid. Most places will have A/C, but you might want to ask if climate control is important to you.
                              • the rental price should include utilities (electric, water, etc.) and wifi access, and contain living essentials (bed, furniture, kitchen supplies, etc.)
                              • bicycles are relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain and resell (Craigslist)
                              • Electric bike and scooter shares are available for app-based rental in Charlottesville: http://www.charlottesville.org/departments-and-services/departments-h-z/neighborhood-development-services/scooters-and-dockless-bike-share

                                Q. May I make long-distance calls from NRAO work phones?

                                A. You may not make long-distance calls from work phones.

                                Q. May I use NRAO vehicles?

                                A. Unfortunately, no.



                                    Internal Process

                                    Internal Processes - accessible by NRAO Staff Only