We strongly advise that a visitor coming to do research use the J-1 visa.
U.S. immigration inspectors have wide discretion in granting visas or entry to the U.S. and often do not see Visitor status (B-1/WB or B-2/WT) as appropriate for someone coming to a University to conduct any research, consultation, or even lectures. They usually determine that only the J-1 exchange visitor is appropriate.
At the port of entry, in some cases, scholars coming to the University have been denied entry using the visa waiver or B status because the immigration officer determined that the appropriate status was J-1 exchange visitor. The scholars in these cases were required to return to their home country without being able to leave the airport.
If a person wishes to visit UC Berkeley in one of our formal visiting titles, Visiting Researcher, Student Researcher, or Professor, we require them to use the J-1 visa. Those coming independently without the formal UC Berkeley relationship may come in whatever status the consulate suggests.