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Request Visas for Postdoctoral Scholars

At Stanford University, approximately 60% of the scholars are non-U.S. citizens. The Bechtel International Center is Stanford University’s office responsible for visas and compliance for postdocs at Stanford. Bechtel offers services and guidance for and seminars for postdocs and administrators on visa and immigration issues pertinent to students and scholars.

International Postdoctoral Scholars at Stanford are sponsored on J-1 visas. Prospective postdocs who are currently in the United States on student visas may be appointed as postdocs for the period of their EAD card validity dates 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 Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM extension) fields. Other visa statuses (including H-1B sponsorships) are rare and require an approved policy exception (see H-1B and J-1 visa comparison and further information below). Postdocs receive a 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 the issues involved when a spouse in J-2 visa status 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:

The sponsoring department originates a J-1 request online (also known at DS-2019 request). The request is received by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA), and is approved in conjunction with the approval of the postdoctoral appointment. When the appointment is approved, the approval of the DS-2019 follows and is forwarded to Bechtel for the processing of the DS-2019 document that the Scholar needs to obtain a visa to the United States or validate legal presence. OPA requires the 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 the completion of the doctorate is accepted in lieu of the diploma, in order to facilitate the speed by which the Scholar may arrive in the US due to the delays in making appointments with the embassies and in making relocation arrangements. In cases where all requirements for doctoral degree completion have been met, but the University has not confirmed award of degree and issued a letter of completion, the postdoctoral appointment cannot be approved. The DS-2019 web form request, on a case-by-case basis, may in some cases be approved, with a letter issued by the University Registrar or an equivalent central office, and with the following condition: Approval of the appointment by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs is subject to submission of acceptable proof of degree on or before the appointment start date, or will require a Visiting Student Researcher appointment.

Extensions of Existing Postdoctoral Appointments at Stanford:

The DS-2019 extension web form is submitted online by the department administrator along with a Change Request web form noting the 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 University's official representative for processing visa requests for postdoctoral scholars is the Bechtel International Center. H-1B visas are viewed as exception category of visas for postdoctoral scholars at Stanford. Requests for H-1B status for postdoctoral scholars are reviewed by a university Review Board and 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 while in postdoctoral training at Stanford.

The H-1 Visa Overview

Maintaining your H-1B Visa Status at Stanford University

University 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 Stanford’s procedures for H-1B petitions.

  1. The process requires review and approvals by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and by the Bechtel International Center.
    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 notification of the uploaded documents to Tammy Wilson at the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, tjwilson (at) stanford (dot) edu. Upon review of the petition at the OPA or by the H-1B Review Board, OPA will then communicate the university’s decision to the Department and to the Bechtel International Center.
    2. The department initiates the H-1B online workflow form with the information necessary for Bechtel to start the petition. Tammy Wilson of OPA will approve that online petition which is then sent to Bechtel. The department must initiate contact with Bechtel in order to identify and follow through on the assembling of the additional required documentation and submit the Stanford petition to USCIS.
  1. Processing Fee:  An internal processing fee of $900 will be charged to a department PTA for any approved H-1B petition that does NOT meet one of the following three criteria:
  1. The postdoctoral scholar is currently in valid H-1B status (submit copy of H-1B I-797 Approval Notice);
  2. The postdoctoral scholar 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).

The processing fee must be paid by a department PTA. This fee does not determine nor predict the outcome of the petition with USCIS, 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 to whom a commitment of appointment is not made.

Timing for requesting exceptions:  Petitions submitted with the intention to use USCIS premium processing MUST be submitted at least 3-5 months prior to the requested H-1B start date, in particular for requests outside of the established policy provisions to approve H-1B sponsorship. Bechtel International Center recommends all H-1B visa petitions should use USCIS premium processing.

Late petitions:  OPA will make every effort to review petitions for appointments that start within less than a 3-5 month advance request. However, there is no guarantee that the H-1B Review Board will be available to decide on petitions on an ad hoc basis. As a result, departments must make every effort to ensure the timeliness of submissions.

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—based on the applicable scenario from the list below:

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 basis for requesting 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 the four criteria (does not require Review Board decision):

  1. The scholar is currently in valid H-1B status elsewhere;
  2. The scholar is pending United States 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
05/01/19 01/08/19 01/09/19 01/15/19 01/16/19
06/01/19 02/05/19 02/06/19 02/12/19 02/13/19
07/01/19 03/05/19 03/06/19 03/12/19 03/13/19
08/01/19 04/02/19 04/03/19 04/09/19 04/10/19
09/01/19 05/07/19 05/08/19 05/14/19 05/15/19
10/01/19 06/04/19 06/05/19 06/11/19 06/12/19
11/01/19 07/02/19 07/03/19 07/09/19 07/10/19
12/01/19 08/06/19 08/07/19 08/13/19 08/14/19
01/01/20 09/03/19 09/04/19 09/10/19 09/11/19
02/01/20 10/01/19 10/02/19 10/08/19 10/09/19
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, please adhere to the following procedures:

  • 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".
  • It is recommended that PAVIR's name be mentioned in the "Description of Program" field on the DS-2019 Initial (or Transfer) request.

Any questions related to the completion of the DS-2019 should be directed to Bechtel International Center.