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If I'm currently doing my first postdoc in the US on an F1 OPT (in Astronomy) and I decide to apply for either an EB1A or an EB2, I understand that it would show my intent to immigrate making me ineligible for a J1 visa. Because of this, any future postdoc position would need to sponsor me for an H1B visa (assuming that my EB1A was denied or my EB2 has a really long wait time). Given this, will this reduce my chances of getting a second or third postdoc with a university because they'll have to sponsor me for an H1B as opposed to a J1?

Thanks!

P.S. Here are some examples of universities that state that they will sponsor an H1B for a postdoc if they have a pending green card application with USCIS: https://research.upenn.edu/postdocs-and-students/postdocs-foreign-nationals/ and https://postdocs.stanford.edu/postdoc-admins/how-quick-links/request-visas-postdoctoral-scholars

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Generally, people decide on who to hire based on qualification and match to the project (if applicable), and only then worry about getting that person a visa (if applicable). I imagine that in nearly all cases where we hired foreigners, we did not actually know which visa they will require, and it played no role in the discussion either.

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    Meaning that as long as I'm in good standing, I shouldn't worry about becoming ineligible for a J1? May 9, 2023 at 2:36
  • Also, are you aware of a case where the offer of a postdoc was retracted after learning that the postdoc absolutely needs an H1B visa (as Anyon seemed to allude)? (Although in the case he outlined, it really seems as if the postdoc wanted and not needed an H1B...my case would be the latter) May 9, 2023 at 2:50
  • No, I can't imagine an offer being retracted. Getting an H1B is a bigger hassle than a J1, but in the end that is small change compared to hiring a postdoc to begin with. You should remember that paying a postdoc, including fringe and overhead, costs a university ~$130k/year. The cost for one visa or another is relatively minor. May 9, 2023 at 3:09
  • I think that makes the most sense compared to everything I've heard so far. In that case, I think I'll go ahead and apply for EB1A and EB2 without hesitation, thank you! May 9, 2023 at 3:49
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My institution will occasionally sponsor H1B for postdocs under specific circumstances. My experience as a PI is that the H1B visa process is complex, slow, and expensive, and I would only consider it if there are no other options. There are a number of fees required that must be paid by the PI and are not allowable on some research grants. Also admin staff does not like H1B as they don't always have the bandwidth to process them. Finally H1B hires in some fields require a higher salary than the postdoc standard, which is problematic in terms of equity.

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  • Sure, but I guess I knew most of this already. My main question I suppose is if you were to have two applicants who are both equally good, would you not hire one because they require H1B, while the other requires a J1? May 8, 2023 at 17:32
  • This will determine if I apply for an EB1 or EB2 during my first post doc or not May 8, 2023 at 17:33
  • All things being equal, between two equally qualified candidates, I would go with the one with J1 visa. Less paperwork, faster turnaround, and potentially less cost.
    – Jim
    May 9, 2023 at 20:23
  • Right, but I think as Wolfgang pointed out, the cost to hire a postdoc for a university is ~130K/year (~400K for the duration of a typical 3-year postdoc). I cannot imagine it being wise for a PI/university/department to not hire a good candidate just because the they were unwilling to allocate 1% of the funding for obtaining the visa compared to 0.25%. More relevant to your point, as Wolfgang said, the decision to hire is almost never based on visa considerations and he/she/they are not aware of a case in which an offer was retracted because of a postdoc's visa requirements May 10, 2023 at 6:32
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[General response]
Most committees will 'focus' on your fit and relevance, rather than your circumstances. In this context, relevance include your qualifications and relevant skillset. In essence, what are you bringing to the table.
However, if there are two candidates who meets the fit and relevance almost in the same way, one can't rule out opting for the candidate that does not require 'visa'. Each situation is unique though.

I understand that it would show my intent to immigrate making me ineligible for a J1 visa

Your understanding is spots on. J1 becomes extremely difficult (not completely ruled out). Agreed, J-1 shouldn't be attempted when EB route is in progress.

[Directed response (might extend outside Academia scope)]
In the last 6 months or so, there seems to be an (unprecedented) 'fast' turnaround time for approval of I-140 for certain EB1 and EB2. Nonetheless, each application is uniquely assessed and decided on; there's no blanket certainty.

If your current host is amenable to it, you should give EB-1B for Outstanding professors and researchers. The average turnaround is looking up: I-140 approval within 1 to 6 months.
EB-2A Advanced Degree || EB-2B Exceptional Ability are not far off as well: 2 to 8 months.
For how long the current 'fastness' will be, no one knows. There seems to be a directive though.

What you might go for though is the EB2-NIW. From your question, it's evident you already know much about the EB route.
PS: for noting: Premium Service
As of Jan. 30, 2023, all pending and initial Form I-140 petitions under an E21 NIW classification are eligible to request premium processing

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