I was offered a PhD position from university X with a research assistantship from company Y both in U.S., but I could not attend because my US visa application got refused. Now I am wondering if I can put that in my CV. And if so, how?

  • 1
    What are you using the CV for? And why was your visa declined? Dec 12, 2020 at 10:26
  • 17
    I'm using it for academia. The visa was declined due to Trump's travel ban policy for Muslim countries.
    – sisaman
    Dec 12, 2020 at 10:43
  • "attend" is not the right word, I think. What is the right word? Dec 13, 2020 at 14:54
  • @PeterMortensen Accept?
    – mustaccio
    Dec 13, 2020 at 19:51

3 Answers 3


The combination of unpredictably tightening immigration policy, and then COVID, has unfortunately made this far from unique. Therefore, old conventions don't really apply.

I've recently been reviewing resumes on the borderline between academia and industry (tech-related). I've seen three approaches being used in the CV itself:

  1. Listed in the Employment/Experience section with a notation like

University of Atlantis, Blorfindal Lectureship, 2020 (offered, not accepted)

  1. Turned into an item in the Honours/Prizes/Fellowships section.

Offered Blorfinal Lectureship at University of Atlantis, 2020 (declined)

  1. Polite silence, with (optionally) a placeholder in the CV if the gap is felt to be provocative.

Independent researcher, 2019-2020.

In any case, state the facts (and emphasize achievements) in the CV, don't provide excuses. Hiring committees understand what's going on. If you feel it's important, you can provide brief context in your application letter instead.

To the extent you can, demonstrate your resiliency by highlighting elsewhere in your CV and/or application how you kept on ticking in spite of the challenges. So mention "draft, in preparation" papers you might otherwise have censored out (or have finished and submitted by now if you had been able to take the position), or the course you taught at a local school, or even the completely unrelated job you took for 6 months. If, conversely, you aren't able to do this, that's fine too: committees understand as well that conditions have been tricky, and in some parts of the world, everyone just needed to move down a few levels in Maslow's Hierarchy. That shouldn't explicitly penalize you, though unavoidably your competitive position will be somewhat disadvantaged versus those who had the privilege to be able to continue to be productive.

All of this is what to do now, while we're in the thick of things in 2020. Hopefully, your career will get back on track soon, and the next time you need to update your CV, you will censor all this out and focus on your more recent accomplishments, not the paths you were unable to take!

  • 1
    Asker's comment suggests COVID was not relevant. Dec 12, 2020 at 12:35
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    @AnonymousPhysicist: Sure, but Houska only states that covid made it more common, not that the approaches mentioned depend on covid being a reason.
    – Make42
    Dec 12, 2020 at 18:22

I would not do it. Only list things you actually did, not stuff you turned down.


Say you were offered but declined, e.g.


  • Bigger Name Fellowship (2019-2020)
  • Big Name Fellowship (declined)

Do note that simply being offered a PhD position or a job is not especially prestigious; in fact I don't think I've ever seen either in a CV before. Add it if you don't have better things to put in your CV, but remove them as soon as you do.

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