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The following information clarifies which U.S. visas may be used by NRC Research Associates during tenure. Any questions not answered here may be directed to the Visa Officer.

Note: NRC Research Associates may not hold H-1B, O-1, L-1, TN or other such employment-based visas during tenure of an NRC Research Associateship award. Associates are not employed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine or the host federal laboratories.

The following visa classes are acceptable for non-U.S. NRC Research Associates, depending on the specific requirements of the participating host federal laboratory: 

  • J-1 exchange visitor (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 (EAD)
  • F-1 student authorized for post-completion practical training (OPT) with EAD
  • 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 research scholars may be subject to a 12- or 24-month bar following a previous J-1 program before beginning tenure as an Associate.

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 and an updated Form DS-2019, 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 an NRC Research Associateship award if they have an employment authorization document (EAD) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Since their status depends on their spouse’s J-1 status, the time available for the Associateship is limited to the time remaining in their spouse’s J-1 status.


L-2 intracompany transferee spouses may hold an Associateship if they have work authorization. Details similar to J-2 section above. 

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 Fellowships Office before they begin tenure at the laboratory. The Academies do not sponsor green cards on behalf of  NRC 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 Research Associateship 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 24-month STEM extension of OPT does not apply to NRC Research 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 Programs. 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 (

Fellowships Office Contact

For any immigration questions related to the NRC Research Associateship Programs, please contact:
Peggy Wilson
Visa Officer
Fellowships Office
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Tel: 202.334.2762
Fax: 202.334.2759