Skip to content Skip to navigation

Request Visas for Postdoctoral Scholars

Bechtel International Center handles visas and compliance and offers services, guidance, and seminars for postdocs and administrators on visa and immigration issues.

International postdocs are sponsored on J-1 visas. Prospective postdocs in the U.S. on student visas may be appointed as postdocs for the period of their EAD card validity during their post-completion F-1 OPT. The initial 12-month F-1 OPT period may be extended an additional 24 months for postdocs who hold a Stanford degree in certain STEM (STEM extension) fields. Other visa statuses (including H-1B sponsorships) are rare and require policy exceptions (see H-1B and J-1 visa comparison and further information below). Postdocs receive J-1 Research Scholar sponsorship.

Important:  If a postdoc is bringing a spouse who intends to also be a postdoc, encourage them to each pursue their own J-1 visa to avoid problems when a J-2 spouse wishes to work as a postdoc.

J-1 Visas

H-1B Visas

F1 OPT

J-1 Visas for Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research (PAVIR)


The J-1 Process:

New Postdoctoral Appointments:

Sponsoring departments originate a J-1 request online (aka a DS-2019 request). The request is approved by OPA in conjunction with approval of the postdoctoral appointment. Upon appointment approval, approval of the DS-2019 follows and it is forwarded to Bechtel for further processing. OPA requires complete appointment information submitted online to accompany an initial visa request for a new scholar. The only exception to the complete packet requirement is proof of degree, where a letter issued by the scholar’s institution confirming completion of the doctorate is accepted in lieu of the diploma, in order to expedite the process. If all requirements for the doctoral degree have been met, but the University has not confirmed award of degree and issued a letter of completion, the appointment cannot be approved.

Extensions of Existing Postdoctoral Appointments:

The DS-2019 extension web form is submitted by the department administrator with a Change Request web form noting extension of the appointment. Both web forms are required to approve the extension. The sponsoring department originates a J-1 extension request online.

Department Staff Responsibilities regarding J-1 Sponsorhip:

Department administrators are responsible for implementing University policy and procedures in compliance with federal regulations. Responsibilities of Sponsoring Departments for J-1 Scholars are found on the Bechtel International Center website.


The H-1B Visa:

Stanford's official representative for processing visa requests for postdoctoral scholars is the Bechtel International Center. H-1B visas are viewed as exceptions. Requests for H-1B status for postdocs are reviewed by a university review board. In the absence of compelling circumstances that support an H-1B request or petition, the scholar will be expected to be in a J-1 status.

The H-1 Visa Overview

Maintaining your H-1B Visa Status

H-1B Policy for Postdoctoral Scholars

For Postdoctoral Administrators:

Implementation Guidelines of the H-1B Visa Policy for Postdoctoral Scholars

H-1B Process: Departments are responsible for initiating and following through with H-1B petitions.

  1. The process requires review and approvals by OPA and Bechtel.
    1. The department initiates the H-1B process by uploading to the existing Recommendation Web Form the PDF form titled "H-1B/E-3 Employment Visa Request Form for Postdoctoral Scholars" and the required supporting documents noted below, and sending an email to Tammy Wilson at OPA, tjwilson (at) stanford (dot) edu. Upon review of the petition at OPA or by the H-1B review board, OPA will then communicate the University’s decision to the Department and to Bechtel.
    2. The department initiates the H-1B online workflow form so Bechtel to start the petition. OPA approves the petition which is then sent to Bechtel. The department must initiate contact with Bechtel in order to identify and follow through on submitting required documentation and submit the petition to USCIS.
  1. Processing Fee: A $900 internal processing fee is charged to a department PTA for any approved H-1B petition that does NOT meet one of three criteria:
  1. The postdoc is currently in valid H-1B status (submit copy of H-1B I-797 Approval Notice); or
  2. The postdoc has pending United States permanent residence as evidenced by an I-485 document (submit copy of I-485); or
  3. The postdoctoral scholar is married to a US citizen or a US permanent resident (submit copy of marriage certificate).

Processing fees are paid via department PTA. This fee neither determines nor predicts the outcome of the petition with USCIS, nor approval at the US embassy abroad, nor is it refunded if the scholar declines the postdoc offer.

Duration of H-1B visa requests: Must coincide with the duration of the postdoctoral appointment at Stanford. Appointment of scholars is a considerable commitment by the faculty sponsor and by the university. Stanford cannot sponsor an H1B visa for a scholar without a commitment of appointment.

Timing for requesting exceptions: Petitions submitted with the intention to use USCIS premium processing MUST be submitted at least 3-5 months before the requested H-1B start date. Bechtel recommends all H-1B visa petitions use USCIS premium processing.

Late petitions: OPA may be able to review last-minute petitions if staffing and work volume permit. However, there is no guarantee that the H-1B review board is available on an ad hoc basis. Thus, departments must make every effort to avoid last-minute requests.

Start Dates: If the postdoctoral scholar will be out of status, the appointment/extension may not take effect without a valid H-1B approval. The start date of the appointment/extension may not be a date prior to the H-1B approval start date.

Paperwork: A complete request to sponsor the H-1B for a postdoctoral scholar must be submitted to OPA by the published deadline for consideration of the petition. The request must include the following documents:

I. If the scholar currently holds a Stanford appointment and is in H-1B status sponsored by Stanford, i.e., this is a request for an extension of the H-1B (does not require Review Board decision):

Submit:

  1. Signed and completed H-1B/E-3 Visa Request Form for Postdoctoral Scholars (submit copy of the current H-1B I-797 Approval Notice);
  2. Complete Postdoc Change Request web form via AXESS;
  3. Complete the Employment Visa Request web form via AXESS.

II. If the scholar currently holds a Stanford appointment and is not in H-1B status:

Submit:

  1. Signed and completed H-1B/E-3 Visa Request Form for Postdoctoral Scholars;
  2. Complete Postdoc Change Request web form via AXESS;
  3. Documents supporting the request for the H1B:

EITHER under one of three policy provisions (does not require Review Board decision):

  1. The scholar is pending United States permanent residence as evidenced by an I-485 document (submit copy of I-485);
  2. The scholar is married to a US citizen or a US permanent resident (submit copy of marriage certificate); or
  3. The scholar is currently completing six months of optional practical training at Stanford or elsewhere (submit copy of EAD card).

OR as an exception (requires Review Board decision):

  1. The scholar has obtained a J-1 waiver from USCIS (submit copy of the waiver letter), or is otherwise ineligible for a J-1 visa because of the 5 year limit or the 24-month repeat participation bar (submit copy of most recent DS-2019); OR
  2. Supporting documentation demonstrating a comparable postdoctoral appointment offer from outside of Stanford with an H-1B employment visa commitment. Salary and other confidential information can be redacted.
  1. Complete the Employment Visa Request Web Form via AXESS.

III. If the scholar is incoming to Stanford and meets one of four criteria (does not require Review Board decision):

  1. The scholar is currently in valid H-1B status elsewhere;
  2. The scholar is pending US permanent residence as evidenced by an I-485 document;
  3. The scholar is married to a US citizen or a US permanent resident; or
  4. The scholar is currently completing six months of optional practical training in the US.

Submit:

  1. Signed and completed H-1B/E-3 Visa Request Form for Postdoctoral Scholars;
  2. Evidence for one of the four criteria above, such as a copy of H1B Approval Notice, copy of the I-485; marriage certificate to US citizen/PR; or EAD card for the OPT period;
  3. Complete Recommendation web form with all supporting documents via AXESS. Include the appropriate language that the offer is contingent upon approval of visa status to be appointed as a scholar in the United States;
  4. Complete the Employment Visa Request web form via AXESS.

IV. If the scholar is incoming to Stanford and does not meet one of the four policy provisions described above (requires review board decision):

Submit:

  1. Signed and completed H-1B/E-3 Visa Request Form for Postdoctoral Scholars;
  2. Supporting documentation:
    1. The scholar has obtained a J-1 waiver from USCIS (submit copy of the waiver letter), or is otherwise ineligible for a J-1 visa because of the 5 year limit or the 24-month repeat participation bar (submit copy of most recent DS-2019); OR
    2. Supporting documentation demonstrating a comparable offer from outside of Stanford with an H-1B employment visa commitment. Salary and other confidential information can be redacted.
  3. Complete Recommendation Web Form with all supporting documents via AXESS. Include the appropriate language that the offer is contingent upon approval of visa status to be appointed as a scholar in the United States;
  4. Complete the Employment Visa Request Web Form via AXESS.




2019 H-1B Visa Review Board Meeting Schedule
For H-1B Start Dates on or before: Completed Petition Submission Deadline to OPA (upload to recommendation form) OPA Distribution of Petition to Review Board  Review Board Meeting Date Department Notified of Decision
01/01/20 09/03/19 09/04/19 09/10/19 09/11/19
02/01/20 09/25/19 10/01/19 10/08/19 10/14/19
03/01/20 11/05/19 11/06/19 11/12/19 11/13/19
04/01/20 12/03/19 12/04/19 12/10/19 12/11/19

 


J-1 Process for Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research (PAVIR):

For those departments who appoint postdocs at PAVIR, when submitting an initial, transfer, or extension DS-2019 request for approval:

  • All postdocs working at PAVIR need to have PAVIR added as a 2nd Site of Activity to their SEVIS records upon arrival to campus (this will need to be done through a J workflow request by the sponsoring Stanford department). A new DS-2019 form will be processed reflecting that this Site of Activity has been added.
  • PAVIR funding will no longer be added as a separate funding source on the DS-2019. All funding from PAVIR should appear under "Funding disbursed by Stanford".
  • PAVIR's name should be mentioned in the "Description of Program" field on the DS-2019 Initial (or Transfer) request.

Questions should be directed to Bechtel International Center.