Background: I hold citizenship of a country included in the Exchange Visitor Skill list for J1 visa holders (my research area, biological sciences, is on the list as well). My postdoc project is funded by NIH/NSF grants to the lab (not in a university). I completed a Ph.D. in a major US university last year, and my work authorization is under the F1 OPT. In light of diminishing faculty openings, I do not have a strong preference for staying in academia long term.
Details: I started my current (and first) postdoc position a few months back, and this position is funded for the next few years. My advisor has been great, and she is supportive. I am also satisfied with the progress being made in the project.
Due to the increased visa denials, I was advised to wait for the next visa and not leave the US during the OPT period. The HR informed me that J1 is the only option as per the organization policy, and my advisor is powerless even if she wants to help. I did not know that non-University entities could sponsor J1 and thought H1B was the only choice (a significant reason for choosing this position; my bad.)
If I take J1, I will be subject to the two year home residency rule (which is the worst; the economy in my home country (a banana republic) is in shambles). Being on OPT would make it extremely risky to leave the US, and the status of the OPT STEM extension is uncertain. These factors make me want to look for new opportunities with H1B sponsorship. However, the fact that my advisor has been supportive and having to leave after a few months without any publication makes me feel incredibly guilty. I would appreciate perspectives on this issue.