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What options do I have after a Ph.D....I am not a US citizen!!!

PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 9:28 pm
by Gail G.
I am now a third year Ph.D student, and I have done quite well for myself so far. However, after passing my qualifying exam (which took a record 4 months, thanks to the people who run my program) I have lost motivation and am unable to bear the thought of going through the next 2 years before I graduate. I am not sure if it is just burn out.......but I have already been reading this forum about other non-science related careers that might be available. I have read a lot of useful information, however I still have a lot of questions, because I am not a US citizen nor a permanent resident. I am currently here on a student visa. Considering that, does anyone know about any non-research opportunities that might be available for non-US citizens. As for now, the option/s that I see before me is to pursue an academic post doc (although I have been reading some surprising inputs on this forum about post doc positions and their usefulness for people like me) for about 2 years and to then apply for positions in industry, after which I can (depending on my progress) transition into managerial positions. The other option is to pursue a post doc in industry but I hear those are hard to come by, in which case it appears safer to pursue the first option, at the cost of staking my sanity for the next 5 or 10 years. A few of my friends, who hated their Ph.D years and hated their academic post docs, are now incredibly happy with doing research in industry and wish to stay right there. I might find myself going down a similar road or in a few weeks, I might overcome the burn out syndrome (if this is what I am feeling right now), and do a complete 180 and once again discover that same passion for science that I started out with, or I may not. But in any case, considering my non-resident status, I want to be prepared in advance, hence any input will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance to all who write back.

What options do I have after a Ph.D....I am not a US citizen!!!

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 8:46 am
by Elsie
Are you determined to stay in the US? I\'ve never had to deal with immigration myself, but I have a close friend who is so fed up with it that she is looking at moving to Singapore.

options in the US

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 9:09 am
by Ned
Hi Gail,

If your\'e are on an F-1 student visa you are allowed 12 months after of legal employment (called optional practical training). You can use that as an initial stepping stone into a position, work very hard to impress your employer to the max and they may sponsor you for an H-1 or (rarely but not impossible) a greencard. However, I strongly suggest you do a LOT of soul-searching and question asking on what kind of a position you would like (research, alternative, etc) because you wont have the luxury of time to figure it out afterwards. Also take advantage of your school if they allow PhD students to take other classes for free. Again beef up your CV to make you look worth the paperwork hassle for a prospective employer. An additional option, is to try to get an internship BEFORE you graduate, even if its not paid, again to beef up your CV.

Best of luck.

What options do I have after a Ph.D....I am not a US citizen!!!

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 9:09 am
by Ric Weibl
If you remain fixed on trying to stay in USA, I would suggest a quick read of some of the past Career Development articles in the Science Careers archive. By searching \"immigration\" I found several excellent articles that talk about what it takes in industrial and academic contexts. These might be helpful in helping you to understand the obstacles and pathways you might face.

I would also 2nd the thought by MP - going back to your home country with a vision to create bi-national collaborations with your US based colleagues can be an excellent idea. Many US funding agencies are investing in these kinds of collaborations.

What options do I have after a Ph.D....I am not a US citizen!!!

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 10:35 am
by Gail G.
In response to some of the suggestions made above.....I have no intention of returning to my home country for a variety of reasons. However, I liked both the idea of taking classes outside of my major, and getting an internship. I will look into that. In any case, if worse comes to worst, I can reconcile with having to do research for a few more years before I give up on it altogether, but I am looking into research options in industry regarding which, I think there is relevant information somewhere on this forum. But I still appreciate further comments or suggestions. I am aware that most people have not had to deal with immigration issues, and the like, but I am sure most of you have friends/co-workers/fellow graduate students etc...who have had to deal with any hints will be greatly appreciated. Thanks everyone.

What options do I have after a Ph.D....I am not a US citizen!!!

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 10:53 am
by N.K.
There is a possibility to get a green gard while you are student or postdoc. I think you first need to apply to O (outstanding) visa and than you can get a green card. I am not sure about timeframe for this though. Getting H1 is not impossible and depends on negotiation with the company. If you want to try H1, start early so I guess the best time for H1 would be just before you graduate since you\'ll have 1 year on OPT. I don\'t know how but several people from my PhD group tranfered to companies after getting their MS. This was for EEngineering and they have more opportunities like company interships (paid 5k) over summer are kind of normal for them.

What options do I have after a Ph.D - ....I am not a US citizen!!! - REVISED VERSION

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:21 am
by Derek McPhee
DISCLAIMER: This is not immigration law advice but my personal experience. Consult a lawyer for complex immigration matters like these.

The route to a green card is usually not via an O visa but an EB (\"extraordinary ability\") one - the requirements are essentially identical but the evaluation by USCIS is different - it is not unusual for someone to be issued an O-1 visa (has no direct path to permanent residence - three year limit, then indefinitely renewable for one year terms - it is however a \"dual intent\" visa, meaning you may apply for permanent residency without jeopardizing your visa status), but then be denied the EB-1 visa (which allows self-sponsorship for permanent residence without labor certification via a simple petition for adjustment of status that can be done concurrently with the EB application or status). Neither route is probably a viable one for students or postdocs or early career scientists, even the really stellar ones, because of the basic requirements, which are receipt of a major internationally recognized award (\"Nobel Prize or other award of similar international standing\" is the exact wording, which kind of limits the pool of applicants pretty quickly) or at least three of the following criteria:
* Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized awards or prizes for excellence in his/her field.
* Membership in associations in the field of extraordinary ability, which require outstanding achievement for membership, as judged by national or international experts (ie none of those associations that just paying membership gets you in - must be ones that elect members, think National Academies and the likes).
* Citations in professional publications, written by others about the individual\'s work in the field. Include the title, date, and author and any translation, if necessary.
* Participation on a panel or as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field.
* Original scientific, scholarly or business contributions of major significance to the field.
* Authorship of scholarly articles in the field in professional journals or major media.
* Previous employment in a critical capacity for organizations and/or establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
* Evidence of high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as proven by contracts or other evidence.
On top of this just presenting evidence of three of these is not enough, as the application is then judged on \"quality of the evidence\", meaning letters, affidavits, press releases, copies of articles mentioning you, etc, are needed.
On the plus side these processes can be fast - you can get a response on an O-1 application in a few business days if you (or your employer) pay for premium processing ($1000) and an EA application response can take only a few weeks.

Excellent advice in this thread

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 12:27 pm
by Dave Jensen
With the exception of the USA-bashing post which was deleted, this thread has produced some exceptionally good advice, a lot of it worthy for inclusion in our Forum Primer.

Derek, I know that you are not an immigration attorney, but you certainly have added to the value of this site for those considering immigration.


PS - Derek McPhee will shortly be announced as a new adviser on this forum. You can see why.

What options do I have after a Ph.D....I am not a US citizen!!!

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 1:33 pm
by Elsie
\"I have no intention of returning to my home country for a variety of reasons\"

The point I was trying to make was that other countries (most notably Singapore) are very proactive about recruiting scientific talent. I have several friends from different countries who have either moved to Singapore or are seriously considering moving to Singapore because the opportunities there are so good and they\'re sick of dealing with US immigration.

This is all about your own priorities. If your top priority is staying in the US, then obviously you should try to do that. If your top priority is becoming a scientist in Industry, then you might consider expanding your geographical preferences to include locations outside of the US, excluding your home country of course.

What options do I have after a Ph.D....I am not a US citizen!!!

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:09 pm
by Dave Jensen

While I agree that Singapore is a nice place, I am not sure that the industry opportunities are as booming as you make out. I have a friend who is a Singapore CEO of a biotech venture, and he describes the region currently as \"moribund\" for venture companies. Yes, academic Singapore is exploring a lot of interesting avenues but it sure doesn\'t look as if Singapore has made quite the industry reality that they have pitched in their ads, etc. It\'s the same problem there that we have here in Arizona . . .the lack of \"home grown\" venture capital.


Dave Jensen, Moderator