Green Cards (Common)
National Interest Waivers
Professors & Researchers
Executives & Managers
PERM Labor Certification
Investors (EB-5 visas)
Family (Spouse, etc.)
Work Visas (Common)
O-1 Extraordinary Ability
TN Canadians & Mexicans
J-1 Visa Holders
Nurses & Physical Therapists
Frequently Asked Questions by Postdoctoral Students
Although there are a variety of visas available depending on the details of your visit to the United States, the most common visas utilized for temporary research are the J-1 or H1-B visas. To see a comparison of these two options, please review the Comparison Chart of J-1 and H-1B visas.
Both the J-1 and H-1B visa categories for postdoctoral students require certification by your educational institution that you have the essential academic and employment backgrounds, as well as the financial suitability to support yourself during your research stay. Each institution has individualized policies and procedures to secure these types of visas, as well as their own time-frame to get the required certifications.
After the institutional certification process is completed and documents received, you are required to secure a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, usually in your home country. The policies and procedures for issuing visas will differ from country to country. When securing the visa stamp, you must have a passport that is valid for six months beyond the anticipated ending date of your postdoctoral appointment.
When entering the U.S., you will be interviewed at the airport (or port of entry) for appropriate entrance documents. After the entry interview, you will receive a document that will register the amount of time granted for your research stay in the United States.
J-1 visa holders are generally admitted for “Duration of Status” (shown as a D/S on your Form I-94 Arrival-Departure record). This means that you may remain in the United States until the ending date shown on the Form DS-2019.
H-1B visa holders are generally admitted until the ending date on the H-1B approval notice. You may be approved for H-1B status for a three year period, which is renewable for up to six years.
During your research stay in the U.S., you are required to report certain information, such as your arrival and departure date to the assigned institution, and the address where you live. Failure to do so may result in severe penalties.
If you require more time on the same type of visa while you are in the U.S., you can request an extension of your stay. The time frame for getting the extensions may vary, depending on the Immigration Service Center receiving your request. If you return to your home country during your research stay and you need more time on your visa stamp, you can go to a U.S. embassy or consulate where you received your original visa to request a longer stay.
If your have exhausted the time limits of your visa and you want to continue your stay in the United States, you may want to consult with Peng & Weber's immigration attorneys to determine your options for extending your stay in the United States.
The two year home residency requirement only applies to some J-1 visa holders. The home residency requirement is imposed if your home country requires your specialized skills (noted on the J-1 Skills List from the Department of State), or if you are receiving U.S. or home country government funding. You must live in your home country for two years before applying for permanent residency in the United States or an H-1 visa. You can read more about the J-1 visa and J-1 waivers.
The DS-2019 is a certificate of eligibility for a J-1 visa and confirms that the institution has screened for appropriate academic and financial ability to undertake the research stay in the U.S. The DS2019 has an expiration date and must be maintained with periodic institutional validations.