Me and my husband both are accepted from US universities for post-doc. The universities will not pay us for post doctoral work. My husband won a scholarship from our country for 1 year, but unfortunatelly I couldn't. He will apply for J-1 visa. My question is can I do post-doc with J2, or should I apply for J1? As applying seperately for J1 requires more personal foundation, we would prefer J2 for me. As I will not receive any payment from the university should I apply for working permission (EAD) for J2? Or is it best to apply for J1 at the beginning? Thanks for your answers..

  • Probably related: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/63666/… Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 13:14
  • Have you contacted to the international exchange/student office of your university? Generally, they are the responsible to sponsor visas, so they may have specific advice for your situation.
    – Greg
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 3:54
  • My PI said they are on semester holiday, so I am trying to find the answer on my own. Thank you. @Greg
    – Derya
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 8:01
  • @Derya Immigration (ie the whole visa thing) in general is a rather delicate question in the US, so most universities are very particular about it how to do such things. Good luck anyways!
    – Greg
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 7:28

1 Answer 1


You should apply for J-1.

I had exactly this question when my wife got accepted for a postdoc in the USA. She started before me. I was told that although it may be possible to work on a spousal visa, it is far easier to get J-1 directly.

Note: One difference was that we both got paid. An unpaid postdoc sounds quite exploitative to me, to be honest.

  • I totally agree with you, but unfortunatelly we have no other choice. At least, my husband has a scholarship from our country..
    – Derya
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 13:58
  • 5
    The salary may be a key difference here. If you are not being paid then I am not sure if you would be eligible to apply for J1. Though there is apparently no minimum salary level to apply for J1 (as opposed to H1B for which the offer must have salary beyond certain threshold depending on the city of work, occupation, etc.), I am not sure a zero-salary-position would be eligible for J1. But better to ask the university's legal dept. They are usually very helpful. And, yes, this sounds very exploitative to me too, but the postdoc system in the USA is exploitative anyway unlike other countries.
    – John
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 0:28
  • @John I suspect the same may apply for getting a permit to work under J2, but I agree that asking the university legal department is key.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 1:19
  • We will show our own savings in visa application which meets the minimum criteria to live in USA. Yes, I will ask the university department but my PI said they are in semester holiday, so I am trying to find answers on my own. MY key question is can I do post-doc with J2? This option will require less money from our side. but I learnt that you have to apply for EAD to work with J2 which requires 3-4 months.But I am confused as I wont be paid. Do I have to apply for working permission in a circumstance which I am not paid?
    – Derya
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 7:58
  • If on J2, after getting EAD, you can work full time/part time/volunteering anywhere in the country. To get EAD you need to show that the J2's salary is not required to support both of you. With EAD, work without pay (volunteer) is straightforward. Again don't take my words only, you should talk to uni lawyers.
    – John
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 12:55

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