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I have received an offer letter from a university abroad, which I am likely to accept. The country however has a very stringent immigration policy and a very complicated and lengthy visa application process. There is therefore a real chance that my visa application could be refused.

I have other interviews lined up and I know the usual procedure would be to notify the universities that I have received an offer. However, I feel like I ought to keep pursuing those jobs as a "safety net" because if my visa application fails, I'd effectively end up jobless.

Would it be unethical to go on with those interviews until I have received my visa?

  • Are you willing to disclose here which country the offer is in and where you're coming from? Because often when a university in such a place (e.g., Switzerland) makes an offer, it's because they're willing to put in a lot of work to get you there. – artificial_moonlet May 26 at 18:50
  • I would prefer not to. But the country has a history of denying visas for people with health issues (I have a history of depression, and my wife has a few worrying health issues). And this is only one factor. Regardless of how much work the university is willing to put in, ultimately the decision is out of their hands. – Robert T. Tusk May 26 at 19:18
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    That's true of most of life. My point was, if you commit to an offer from this university, you have to consider the magnitude of the process set in motion. In some countries, this equates to stacks of paperwork that people agree to put up with because they want you there. And in many cases, being a highly skilled worker with an offer from a respected institution gives you a better chance than probably 99% of the other applicants. – artificial_moonlet May 26 at 19:25
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    I am willing to commit to this particular institution and I wouldn't take another job offer over it unless my visa was denied and I could not come to the country. My issue is with the universities I will continue to interview with : I have technically committed to another institution, so etiquette would usually dictate that I let them know and withdraw from the interview process. But I feel like I need to keep my options open because there is a real chance that I will not get the visa and might end up having to take one of those other jobs. – Robert T. Tusk May 26 at 19:31
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    Regarding the health issue this is a real problem in many countries. By history I mean diagnosed, hospitalized and currently medicated for it. Here are some sources for the US : psychcentral.com/blog/…, soundimmigration.com/… – Robert T. Tusk May 26 at 19:35
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You should definitely continue interviewing locally. I have personally seen several potential hirings fall apart because of visa issues. This is a real possibility.

Consider this: You would never stop interviewing until you have a sure, written offer on the table. Simply do not consider this offer to be sure, until visa issues are in the clear.

  • This is not reasonable for a lot of countries. Often a visa application cannot even begin without accepting an offer and signing a contract. – artificial_moonlet May 26 at 20:22
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This is an unfortunately common situation that a lot of highly skilled professionals find themselves in, not just academics. I know from personal experience that it's not easy.

Still, I would say that you either take the job or you don't. Continuing to interview with other places after making this commitment is unfair to the institution who's willing to go through the trouble of hiring you. It's also unfair to yourself and your partner, because it extends the state of uncertainty, making it hard to make plans and move forward.

It's a risk, there's no doubt about that. You can easily find horror stories of people whose visas were denied for weird or grossly unfair reasons. But you also have to ask yourself whether looking up such stories is helpful for your mental health or for making a decision about the position. If possible, ask the university for their success rate with visas. Ask them if they have a back-up plan if your visa gets denied. And keep in mind that they are taking a risk too, and by making you an offer, they've deemed it worthwhile.

If you decide to accept the job, you should definitely inform the other institutions that you're off the market. However, you don't have to cancel the interviews outright. You could ask them if they're willing to chat regardless, just to build the connection. They can say no, but some might be intrigued and want to talk anyway. (This actually happened for me, and it turned out to be a nice chat.)

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