USA offers lots of opportunities to scientists, professors, and researchers. There are many research universities, science agencies, and science parks that recruit a lot of qualified and experienced researchers.
The country recognizes the value that scientists and researchers can bring and therefore offers special immigration options for highly qualified professionals in this field. As a post-doctoral researcher, here are the visa options available to you:
If you are working with an institution that provides higher education, a non-profit entity that is affiliated or related to it, or a government or a non-profit research organization, your employer can file for an H1-B petition irrespective of the number of visas available. However, like the regular H-1B visa, this also requires a sponsorship from your employer.
If you have extraordinary ability in science, business, or athletics, you can obtain an O-1A visa. Nevertheless, the petition will have to be filed by the employer who will sponsor you. In addition, you may also need to consult a reputable peer group for an advisory opinion or a consulting or trade organization to confirm your extraordinary ability or achievement in the field.
If you are planning to apply for permanent residency (green card) for you and your family, you will have to file a petition for NIW. You can straight away fill the I-140 application to get the NIW. You don’t need to have a job offer or a sponsorship from any employer. However, you may have to satisfy a few conditions in order to obtain an NIW:
The USCIS officer will review your case based on the results you have achieved through your past work in the field. So make it a point to support your NIW application with substantial evidence.
Also known as Einstein visa, the EB-1A is a visa that is available only to the top people of fields such as science, business, athletics, arts or education. You should have received a prestigious academy award, the Nobel Prize, or any national or international acclaim. If you are too early in your career you will have to clear the Kazarian test.
If you are a tenure track professor of one of the research institutions, you can get your university to file a petition for an EB-1B visa. However, you should have a research experience of at least 3 years in your field and should have received international recognition for outstanding performance in your field. If you are working in a private company you have to prove that there are at least 3 full-time employees in your company, who are engaged in research activities.
The approval rate of EB-1B, as compared to EB-1A and NIW, is quite highsince the requirement demands are low. Also it is an attractive option to consider, as it can leverage the prestige of the employer.
Once you have obtained an EB-1A, NIW, or EB-1B visa, you can apply for permanent residency by filling up the I-140 and I-485 forms. There are a few requisite background checks that are performed by the USCIS while reviewing your form to ensure that you are a person of good moral character, you are not a threat to the US, and there are no outstanding issues against you that can stop you from obtaining your permanent residency.
The waiting time to apply for a green card is longer if you are born in India or China, especially if you have an EB-2 or NIW visa. Till then you should be in valid visa status and work and live in the US. EB-1 category applicants can avoid these long waiting times and can also apply for work and travel authorization.
An application has to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor to obtain labor certification. This document certifies the fact that there is no other qualified U.S. worker who has the willingness or ability to take up the job that you have applied for. You need to be sponsored by a U.S. company to obtain a labor certification and the process is quite time-consuming and difficult. You can however, get this labor certification requirement waivered by filing one of these three specific immigration petitions:National Interest Waiver, Outstanding Professor or Researcher, and Alien of Extraordinary Ability.
Getting these three petitions approved is one way to waive labor certification requirement. However, this is by no way an easy task. You can increase the chances of approval if you follow the above tips diligently.