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J1 waiver, US funding source

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J1 waiver, US funding source

Postby S.B.9278 » Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:06 pm

Hello,
I am a postdoc deciding between J1 and H1 visas. There is a lot of admin hassles about H1B, so my PI prefers J1. But I am petrified by the 2yr home residency, I will need eventually to go for H1B or Green Card.
Question about J1 visa - waiver for 2 yr HRR: I understand that if you are funded as a J-1 Scholar through a US source funding it makes you ineligible for the waiver (so you have to go back to home country for 2yr). Currently, I get paid through institute payroll, but money comes from NIH RO1 to my PI. Does this mean I get funding from US government? and Will this mean I cannot get waiver eventually? Anybody been in a similar situation, please share your experience ?

Thanks in advance.
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J1 waiver, US funding source

Postby TCC » Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:44 pm

This is an interesting question and I hope someone has some definite answers for it. It appears that the final criterion is the Visa stamp in the passport which states whether the 2 year rule applies or not. Strange enough I know of people funded by similar (R01) projects and to some the 2 year rule applied, whereas in another case it did not. It may depend on how the DS2019 was processed, but I was not able to divine the true reasons.
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J1 waiver, US funding source

Postby Derek McPhee » Tue Sep 08, 2009 5:00 pm

Yup - the funding source should make you waiver ineligible, so if the visa stamp says you are subject to the rule you are stuck, and as the last poster noted, whether you are or not depends entirely on what the USCIS officer put in that stamp, so for most people it is pretty much a heada or tails thing
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J1 waiver, US funding source

Postby P.S » Tue Sep 08, 2009 5:41 pm

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the J1 waiver. I did a postdoc at a US government institute and went through the J waiver process 3 years ago. If there is a way to avoid the J visa, you should try your best to do so, especially if H1 is an option. I didn't know better at the time and it created a lot of misery.
If you are getting funded by an R01, chances are very good that you will be subject to the 2-year rule.The notation on your DS 2019 form about whether you are subject to the 2 year rule is not always accurate, so never rely on just that. The only definite way to know is to get an advisory opinion from the State Department,but you would be stuck in the J visa by then.
If you are subject to the 2 year rule, then you will have to get a waiver prior to getting a H visa or green card. The simplest way is to get a 'no-objection' waiver, but make sure that your country will give you such a letter. You may also need approval from the US sponsor. Again, if you can collect all the documents, the waiver process is straightforward and takes from 4-6 months.
Since you seem to have a choice, I would strongly encourage you to try to get the H visa. You can e-mail me if you have questions.
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J1 waiver, US funding source

Postby S.B.9278 » Tue Sep 08, 2009 6:03 pm

Hello,

thanks for all responses. Currently no-objection letters can be obtained from my home country, but I hear the process can take 8-12 months. But assuming I am able to get that, does US source funding preclude me from getting a waiver anyway ?

The choice for H1 is really not that easy here, if the option for J1 was vaible. the institute will force a lawyer down my throat, and I have to pay lawyer fees every year to keep H1 status valid. Since H1 holders are considered "employees" here, my boss has to pay higher benefit rate to institute. So its quite a hassle for both. Hence I need to find out whether Waiver will at all work for me or not. If I can convince them its not much of an option (because of US funding), they may be willing to sponsor H1. Its quite unfortunate postdocs have to dig deep into immigration regulations rather than more scientific issues!
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J1 waiver, US funding source

Postby Derek McPhee » Tue Sep 08, 2009 6:06 pm

Twist to the 'no-objection' waiver: time to get one varies from pretty fast (I have heard "weeks" for some countries) to "never" (a certain Eastern European country signed up for the J-1 program, but never got around to authorizing anyone in their government to issue waivers, so nationals from that country are in the ultimate Catch-22 situation - they tell people they have no objection but nobody will put it in writing to satisfy USCIS). Depending on the country involved, a possible snag is that each country provides the US with a list of areas of expertise that are subject to the "no-waiver" rule (the Exchange Visitor Skills List), meaning they want those people back. These lists are supposedly updated periodically by the various countries and can trump a no-objection letter at USCIS' discretion (ie you get a waiver letter but whoever is handling your case says this person's profession is on the List, so no waiver). As another poster suggested, geting an written opinion from the State Department is easy and free and can smooth a lot of bumps in the visa road (I will be happy to provide the address for requesting this if interested - just e-mail me off-forum)
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J1 waiver, US funding source

Postby L. Bing » Tue Sep 08, 2009 6:19 pm

S Boyle (Susan Boyle?!!!!) Go for H1. Dont go for J1 unless it is forced down your throat. Getting the waiver is a pain. Its not worth it.
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J1 waiver, US funding source

Postby P.S » Tue Sep 08, 2009 6:41 pm

U.S funding will not preclude you from getting a 'no-objection' waiver, as long as your country gives you the 'no-objection' letter. It depends a lot on the country. In my case, the embassy had instructions clearly posted and it was just a matter of waiting.
The price to pay to get an H visa is small compared to the enormous headaches a J waiver can create. It will be difficult to transition to industry after your postdoc if you have to first wait 6 months for a waiver.
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J1 waiver, US funding source

Postby S.B.9278 » Tue Sep 08, 2009 6:42 pm

thanks for all your comments. Since someone brought it up, my forum identity is just a random alias.
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J1 waiver, US funding source

Postby Ike » Thu Sep 10, 2009 7:58 pm

Whatever you do, if you can avoid J1 at all costs, do so and go with H1B. The hassles you are running away from now will come back to haunt you later. Better to be delayed now and get the H1B than to go through a hellish experience to try and get a waiver, for which you may very well be ineligible. Your PI is going to go with the easiest option and do not let PI determine this for you. If the PI is at a major research institution, getting you a H1B should be a breeze. It will only take a few extra weeks or a few months, but trust me, well worth the wait...
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