The UAB Office of Postdoctoral Education has extensive information and resources about the postdoctoral appointment process at UAB, including a list of current openings. Once you receive a postdoc appointment at UAB, our office will assist you with obtaining a visa to perform research in the US. We also encourage you to read the International Postdoctoral Association’s Survival Guide.

VISA OPTIONS AND SERVICES FOR INTERNATIONAL POST-DOCTORAL SCHOLARS


J-1 Exchange Visitor

  • Research Scholar (5 years duration)
  • Short-term Scholar (6 months duration, no extension)

Benefits:
  • Quick turn-around here at UAB. Form DS-2019 is sent to individual in home country within 1-2 weeks.
  • Flexibility of funding – UAB, personal, home government, foreign university
  • Exempt from FICA (Social Security taxes) for the first two tax years
  • Spouse (J-2 status) may obtain employment authorization to work in the US while you are here at UAB
  • Moving to another university is processed electronically between hosting universities—no government approval required

Obstacles:
  • $180 SEVIS fee required prior to scheduling an interview at the US consulate to apply for the J-1 visa
  • You must convince the Consular Officer that you have strong ties and will return to your home country following your research in the US.
  • Some J-1 exchange visitors are subject to a two-year home residency requirement (commonly referred to as “§212(e)”) after completing their objective in the US. This includes visitors who:
    1. Have skills listed on the Department of State Skills List as in short supply in their home country,
    2. Received funding directly from a government (foreign or US), or
    3. Came to the US to receive graduate medical training (ECFMG).
  • Waivers of §212(e) can be difficult to obtain and usually take 9-12 months to process.
  • A J-1 exchange visitor cannot enter the US more than 30 days prior to the program start date or more than 30 days after the start date. Timing is tricky due to visa issuance delays. We will stay in regular contact with you to know when your visa is issued so that we can push your start date forward as needed.
  • If your data is incorrect or invalidated in the SEVIS system, it can take as long as 6 to 12 months to get a data fix. This delay has major impacts on your ability to obtain a SSN and employment.
  • You cannot be appointed to a faculty position.

H-1B Temporary Worker

(6 years duration)
  • Job must require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. You must have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree or higher in a field related to the work you will be performing.
  • Position must pay the prevailing wage or actual wage, whichever is greater. ISSS uses the Department of Labor’s online survey database to determine the prevailing wage.
  • H-1B employment is a contract. If UAB terminates you before the end of the H-1B petition approval period, UAB must provide return transportation costs for you to return to your last place of residence.
  • H-1B petitions generally take 5½ to 7½ months to process. However, they can be "premium processed" in 15 calendar days by paying an additional $1,410 processing fee to USCIS. Plan ahead so your department doe not have to pay an extra $1,410!
  • If you are subject to the §212(e) home residency requirement, you cannot change to H-1B status until you obtain a J-1 waiver or return to your home country for two years.

TN – North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)


Canadians may obtain one year of employment authorization from USCIS at a US port of entry. They must present an employment letter, proof of their bachelor’s degree or higher (and educational credential evaluation), license (if applicable), and proof of Canadian citizenship. This status may be renewed in one-year increments. Only certain professions qualify (e.g., college/university teacher, nurse, research assistant, dentist).

Mexicans also qualify for employment authorization under NAFTA; however, their paperwork must be processed through USCIS prior to entering the US. USCIS processing for Mexican nationals is cumbersome and can take up to 3 months.

NOTE: The above-referenced non-immigrant visas are employer-specific.