VISA OPTIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATES
The following information is clarifies which U.S. visas may be used by NRC Research Associates during tenure. Any questions not answered here may be directed to the NRC Visa Officer.
Note: NRC Research Associates may not hold H-1B, O-1, L-1, TN or other such employment-based visas because Associates are not employed by the NRC or the host federal laboratories.
The following visa classes are acceptable for non-U.S. Research Associates, depending on the specific requirements of the participating host federal laboratory: J-1 research scholar or short term scholar:
- J-1 research scholar or short term scholar
- J-1 student approved for postdoctoral academic training (AT)
- J-2 dependent spouse with employment authorization
- L-2 dependent spouse
- U.S. lawful permanent resident (immigrant visa)
- Pending U.S. permanent resident with employment authorization
- F-1 student authorized for optional practical training (OPT)
- Asylee or refugee
J-1 exchange visitors
J-1 research scholars are sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) through SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). Research scholars are allowed a maximum stay of 60 months in J-1 status.
Eligibility: Current J-1 research scholars in the U.S. may transfer their sponsorship to the NAS for tenure of their award. Persons living outside the United States are eligible to apply for a J-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. If they previously held a J-1 or J-2 visa, there are certain conditions that may affect when they can qualify for a new J-1 program.
Requirements: Many J-1 exchange visitors and their families are required to return to their home country or country of legal residence for at least two years after completing their J-1 program before changing to certain other visa statuses. It is possible to apply for a waiver of that requirement. All J-1 visa holders are required to hold certain levels of health insurance for themselves and each member of their family.
J-1 short-term scholars are usually more senior researchers, observers, or consultants sponsored by the NAS who come to the U.S. for occasional periods for a maximum stay of 6 months.
J-1 students on academic training are sponsored by their U.S. institution. With written approval of the university international office, J-1 students may stay for up to 36 months for postdoctoral research and/or employment in the field of their degree discipline.
J-2 exchange visitor spouses may hold NRC awards if they have an employment authorization document (EAD) from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Since their status depends on their spouse’s J-1 status, the time available for an NRC award is limited to the time remaining in their spouse’s J-1 status.
L-2 intracompany transferee spouses may hold NRC awards if they have work authorization. Details similar to J-2 section above entitled "J-2 exchange visitor spouses."
U.S. Permanent Residents and Pending Permanent Residents
U.S. lawful permanent residents hold a Resident Alien Card (“green card”) and/or an I-551 stamp in their passport. They must provide a copy of the Resident Alien Card or the I-551 stamp to the NRC before they begin tenure at the laboratory. The National Research Council does not sponsor green cards on behalf of Research Associates.
Pending U.S. permanent residents are waiting for adjustment to lawful permanent resident status and hold an EAD (Employment Authorization Document). They are authorized to work or receive a fellowship stipend in the United States until lawful permanent resident status is approved by USCIS, and are eligible for NRC tenure.
F-1 Students on OPT
F-1 students who have graduated from U.S. universities may begin tenure if they hold an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by USCIS for post-completion optional practical training (OPT) in their discipline. Authorization to work or receive a stipend is limited to 12 months and is non-renewable.
Note: The 17-month STEM extension of OPT does not apply to NRC Associates because they are not employed while on tenure.
Asylees and Refugees
Asylees and refugees who hold Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) may participate in the NRC Research Associateship Program. In some cases, refugees may begin tenure on the basis of the notation on their I-94 Arrival-Departure Card until an EAD is obtained. Both asylees and refugees are required to report any change in address to USCIS within 10 days on Form AR-11 (https://egov.uscis.gov/crisgwi/go?action=coa).
For any immigration questions related to the National Academies Research Associateship Program, please contact:
The National Academies
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001