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

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

Postby Bill San » Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:31 pm

My own way to Green Card has been: O-1 visa out of postdoc, then GC after a few months. My current employer paid for everything. It took less than one year from hire date to GC.
My understanding is that big multinational companies have no problem in going through this process for the candidates they need (a few of my colleagues received my same treatment) smaller ones might be a little more cautious.
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What options do I have after a Ph.D....I am not a US citizen!!!

Postby Elsie » Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:45 pm

1. I\'m not sure how my post is anti-US.
2. I also don\'t mean to single out Singapore, its just the one place I happen to know of through friends as a good place to do science.

To clarify again, the point I am trying to make is that I think non US citizens should be open to looking for opportunities outside the US after their training, particularly given how difficult it can be to immigrate here.

I\'m from the US. I love the US. I love the fact we have many immigrants, I\'m descended from immigrants, my husband is the child of immigrants. I am in no way advocating that immigrants should NOT look for opportunities here.
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What options do I have after a Ph.D....I am not a US citizen!!!

Postby Gail G. » Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:16 pm

Bill, about the O-1 that a common other words, is it hard to transition to an O-1 from an H1B. I ask because I have heard that it is quite a challenge to get an O-1 application approved, and that this route is much more tedious than the National Interest Waiver route. I will look into that...thanks for suggesting it.
To clarify further: I mentioned that \"I do not want to return to my home country for a variety of reasons\" - one of them (and a very solid one, that says it all) is of all the English speaking countries that I have an option of moving to.....I prefer living here in the US. I am grateful for the advice so far, and no offense has been taken whatsoever.
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What options do I have after a Ph.D....I am not a US citizen!!!

Postby Derek McPhee » Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:54 pm

Based on purely anecdotal evidence I can say that the H1B to O1 is certainly doable for a company willing to sponsor you. An experienced lawyer helps in crafting a good application, because once submitted you are pretty much at the mercy of the unknown person(s) evaluating the application, so one hears of approvals and rejections for people whose CVs would lead one to believe quite the opposite would be the logical result. The rejection rate also seems to have increased with time, again based on ad hoc monitoring of the forums dealing with this kind of thing. Like in all legal matters, precedent can be everything, so for example, one sees things like the following from an actual 2005 Immigration Appeals Office decision (sorry for the lenghty post):

The denial of a research scientist’s petition was upheld on appeal. An academic scholarship did not constitute a nationally or internationally recognized prize or award for excellence in the field of endeavour, because ‘academic study is not a field of endeavor, but training for a future field of endeavor.’ Serving as a peer reviewer for journals in one’s field is routine for researchers and does not demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim. Finally, having great potential as a scientist is not the same as already having achieved the required acclaim.

This would appear to eliminate this route for junior scientists since it pretty much nixes the three out of the ten criteria that might be more claimable to support an application for someone without a high profile extensive career.

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

Postby Bill San » Tue Jan 08, 2008 4:13 pm

I think Derek has far more qualifications and experience than me on this issue so I will not add much to what he already said. My case has been handled by a very large law firm with a lot of associates. A substantial amount of their work consists of this kind of assignments. I guess their expertise in crafting the application package helps. They also assess your case before hand and frankly tell you if you have a chance or not. I have seen them refusing to accept an assignment because there was no case (talking about O-1 here).
Bottom line I guess is that O-1 applications are difficult but not impossible given you have enough accomplishments and a good lawyer that knows how to spin them.
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What options do I have after a Ph.D....I am not a US citizen!!!

Postby Tony9306 » Tue Jan 08, 2008 4:39 pm

I hesitate to recommend this, but it is possible to transition quite
quickly to a green card via a post-doc stint at one of the national
labs. This sits somewhat uncomfortably in the grey zone between being
an industrial and an academic post-doc, and frequently not to your advantage.
However, the federal government generally finds it easy to supply itself
with H1 visas, and the pay and benefits compare with industry (at least at
this level). It\'s best to ignore any suggestions that you go through the
official lab sponsored green card route (riddled with internal bureaucratic
delay [obfuscation?], and often not delivered on). Hire an immigration
attorney instead. It is relatively straightforward for a lawyer to make
the case that you are making a useful scientific contribution to the country
if you\'re working for the government (pretty much undeniable), especially if
you\'re somewhere strategic like a weapons lab. I know of one example where
the whole process was completed in nine months for about $5k.

I\'ve glossed over many of the complexities, and it\'s not easy to get a gig
in a national lab as a foreign national. The bar is set fairly high (although
not quite in the same league as DJM\'s suggestion) and competition is pretty
fierce as they\'re good positions, and US nationals are understandably
always the preferred choice. Also if you\'re from a sensitive country you can
pretty much forget setting foot in a weapons lab.

You\'ll also need some decent publications and an award or fellowship or two
to flesh out the case for the green card, but you probably wouldn\'t have got
the post-doc job anyway without these kind of things on your cv.

Now for the sermon/warning. I have to echo what some of the other posters
have been suggesting. Research is becoming a very cut-throat game in the US
(and elsewhere), going into this as a foreign national - requiring paperwork
and good references - while lacking a driving passion, means you\'re entering
the fray with one arm tied behind your back.

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

Postby Dave Jensen » Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:13 pm


I didn\'t intend to pick on you . . . I just removed my comment, which was more about a post I had already deleted from this thread than it was your commentary. Your position on this matter is clear through your various disclaimers, thanks! This is a topic area that is very interesting, but which has the potential to go the wrong way. As a moderator, I\'m always a bit wary of that happening. Sorry.

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”- Alain de Botton
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What options do I have after a Ph.D....I am not a US citizen!!!

Postby Andrew1 » Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:15 pm

Just to expand slightly on DJM\'s post, there is an alternative green card route for researchers which is the \"Outstanding researcher\" application (I went through this myself). The relevant criteria are the same as \"Extraordinary ability\", but you have to fulfill somewhat fewer of them. Note that the primary difference between them is that OR requires the sponsorship of an employer (and the offer of a permanent position - a postdoc generally does not qualify as it is for a fixed period), while the EA petition is done by the applicant alone and does not require a job offer. EA is considerably harder than OR, and the latter has become harder over the past few years.

You may choose to engage an immigration attorney for either. I chose not to. Part of the reason was that when I looked over someone\'s application prepared by their attorney, I found 4 errors in two pages of forms. However I would *not* recommend the websites which sell \"how to\" guides - the information in them is usually very substandard, and often wrong. The ideal option if you want to \"go it alone\" would be to look over someone\'s successful application.

The USCIS website is an excellent place to start.
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What options do I have after a Ph.D....I am not a US citizen!!!

Postby Shehan9762 » Wed Jan 09, 2008 12:40 am

I have been part of these guys who went through the immigration hoops. DJM, Andrew and Bill have already summarized most of the options for non US citizens. I came over on this side of the Atlantic through a J1 (postdoc), obtained a H1B and transferred to H1B industrial after a job offer in a large company. I am now waiting for my GC application to be approved.

The most important thing to realize while job hunting is to do some solid homework regarding which companies are likely to hire non US citizens. You can find out pretty easily by networking, especially with peers who are from the same nationality. Also it is important to know your visa options and limitations of each one of them (H1B, O1, J1, L1 in some cases). Knowing the system may help you to downselect your applications and target the companies who are willing to hire non US citizens. Not all the companies are willing to file H1B visas for foreign scientists as well as not all of them will file GC. There is always a variability in the granting of visas and permanent residency. Some companies simply do not have the resources and infrastructures to employ immigration attorneys and run the risk to lose their employees due to immigration issues.

As in for the GC, you should seek some immigration attorneys who would be capable to help you out in the process. It is not an easy thing to do it without one as it involves a lot of complex paperwork.

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

Postby SJT » Wed Jan 09, 2008 8:45 am

Hi, this message is for Andrew1. I am also planning to apply for the \"Outstanding Researcher\" category and you had mentioned that you were successful in obtaining the GC. I was wondering if I could look over your application, just to get an idea of how to prepare it and what points to focus on. It would be really helpful if you could send some details to the email provided in my profile.
Thanks for you help in advance.
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