Despite receiving a job (post-doc) offer in January I have kept applying to other positions (post-doc and teaching track jobs). This was not a bad idea in retrospect, I suppose

This post doc job offer I received is in Europe (France) and required me to apply for a "long stay visa". I am currently a visiting faculty in a well known mid-western university in the USA. My citizenship is "Indian".

I did apply for a long stay visa and have not received it yet. In the mean time I have received a job offer for one teaching track (non-tenure but "long term" contract) job at my current university.

I have not been offered tenure track jobs anywhere since I have a backlog of publications right now.

Here is the problem:

  • My post doc job starts in 3 weeks time and I haven't received my visa yet. I have to make other arrangements too (air tickets, housing in Europe, other stuff for a trans-continental move).

  • I have been given 3 weeks to decide and confirm my availability for the teaching track job.

  • I prefer the post doc since it is a more appealing challenge. The downside is I have to exit the USA if I get my visa and go to Europe.

  • The teaching track job offers me stability, a full time employment and a salary that is difficult to beat in the post doc job and in my home country of India. The downside is that teaching track lecturers are treated as "mules" in the USA and are burdened with courses that "tenure track" do not want. This would mean that any research aspirations I have go down the drain since I won't be afforded time to do research.

  • For me as a foreigner, it is not just working on my "passion" but also getting a lucrative position with which to support my family. I have to strike a balance between working on my passion and living in a developed country with a good salary.

I am confused as to what to do.

Here are options that occur to me (deferment of either position is not a possibility):

  • Wait for 3 weeks and irrespective of the visa decision, take a risk and say "no" to the teaching track job and take my chances with the European visa and miss an opportunity to have a full time job in the USA.

  • Wait for the next 3 weeks, if EU visa is not delivered to my house, just tell the lab that I cannot wait any longer since I have to make a career decision and take the teaching track job and miss a fantastic research opportunity for a great salary but a job that could very easily become flavorless.

Some more detail that I need to factor in:

  • I love to teach and have received some teaching awards for graduate and undergraduate courses I have taught as a visiting faculty.

  • However, I love research as well and understand that teaching and research are symbiotic activities and that the EU postdoc (which is a research position) allows me to do research and develop as a better teacher.

My question:

I am not asking this forum to make my decision for me; I just want to know how to weight this situation rationally and try and cut my losses if things go to pot. What are some of the decision making paradigms that one would use in such a situation?

If there are other details that may not have occured to me, would prove useful, do let me know via a comment below and I will try to include them.

Amendments to question:

"what is the likelihood that the visa will appear in the next three weeks, and what methods do you have to estimate this likelihood?"

The consulate tells me that it takes between 2 weeks and 2 months for a decision on "long stay visa" to be made. It is week 3 of my wait.

There would appear to be no way of estimating the likelihood other than tracking the status on a status page. All it says right now is: "Your application is under consideration". Contacting the consulate yielded the same answer.

  • One data point that I'd need for a decision is: what is the likelihood that the visa will appear in the next three weeks, and what methods do you have to estimate this likelihood ?
    – Suresh
    Apr 13, 2014 at 18:25
  • @Suresh Good point. Pl see amended question.
    – dearN
    Apr 13, 2014 at 19:31
  • I asked because with visas (and I have a fair bit of experience with this) some processes are routine but long, and others are long and have nontrivial outcomes. Have you been able to get a sense of a) whether visas are ever rejected for cause b) how long it's taken others in the past to get visas for the country you're applying to c) what your putative employers have to say about the visa process and their experience with dealing with it ?
    – Suresh
    Apr 13, 2014 at 19:48
  • ...continued. My point is that from your question it's clear that you'd like to go to this European location. So all your efforts should be directed at getting good information about the visa processing (or at explaining that information to this forum)
    – Suresh
    Apr 13, 2014 at 19:49
  • @Suresh it would seem that the visa process and ETA for a long stay visa would seem to be variable. The lab that has hired me in the EU is confident that I will receive my visa but as I see it, they are (and have to) be positive about it and present an optimistic front! There is little to no official information available on the visa process itself wit regards to "timing".
    – dearN
    Apr 13, 2014 at 19:52

1 Answer 1


Since the purpose of this question is to ask for general decision-making strategies that might apply more generally, here are some (that also impinge on this case):

  • Acquire information: Get as much information as you can that would affect the decision: in your case, estimates of time for the visa process, and so on.
  • Determine the "real" timeline for decision making: in this case, do you really have to decide in three weeks ? can it be delayed slightly ? and so on.
  • Determine how "permanent" the decisions are: can you negotiate a 1 year contract ? Can you defer the postdoc ?
  • Separate out facts that affect the decision from feelings/opinions: Is it true that "if the visa comes through I'm going without a doubt" ? If so, then everything depends on facts regarding the visa. Is it instead true that "if the visa comes through I have a preference, but I do enjoy teaching and like staying in the US" ? In that case, there's a personal preference coming into play that isn't usually resolved by "facts", and so timelines and data collection don't matter as much as (or are influenced by) some soul searching.
  • 2
    Thank you for your answer to a rather tricky question. Yes, I may be able to delay my decision on the teaching track job by 4 weeks instead of 3 weeks. Little but useful breathing space. The post doc job is for 2 years and neither position may be defered (I would love to defer the teaching track job!)
    – dearN
    Apr 13, 2014 at 21:45

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