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Immigration Services

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Immigration Services Department handles all work-related immigration issues and is available to help postdoctoral researchers obtain and maintain the most appropriate immigration status during your employment.

Immigration Services

View a presentation from a recent Immigration Services Town Hall Meeting.

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Memorial Sloan Kettering postdoctoral researchers may contact Immigration Services below with any questions or concerns.

For J-1 Questions: Jose A. Bueno Roca, 646-227-3197,

For H-1B and Other Visa Questions: Patricia Williams, 646-227-3655,

For Green Card/Permanent Residence Questions: Adam S. Cohen, 646-227-3001,

Below is general information of interest to our postdoctoral researchers.

General Information Regarding J-1, H-1B, and O-1 Status

Exchange Visitors (J-1)

Memorial Sloan Kettering is authorized by the United States government to sponsor foreign nationals to come to the United States as Cultural Exchange Visitors for temporary periods of stay (up to five years) to conduct research. The principal document indicating J-1 sponsorship is the Form DS-2019, which is issued by Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Immigration Services Department. Issuance of the DS-2019 is regulated by the US Department of State. DS-2019 forms are issued when academic appointments are approved by the MSKCC Academic Administration Office.

Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement (212 [e])

Some J-1 holders are subject to a two-year foreign residency requirement referred to as 212(e). Unless they obtain a waiver, these individuals must return to their country of nationality or previous permanent residence for a period of two years following completion of the J-1 program before they are allowed to return to the United States. Individuals may be subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement for different reasons (See FAQs for more information).

Spousal Work Authorization (J-2)

Spouses and immediate family members of J-1 holders enter the United States with J-2 status. J-2 holders are entitled to apply for work permission through US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The form used to apply for this benefit is an I-765 and can be found at USCIS.GOV.

Specialty Workers (H-1B)

This category is set aside for individuals who enter the United States to render services in “specialty occupations.” Specialty occupations are those that require at least a bachelor’s degree. The H-1B program is administered by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Individuals do not apply for H-1B status. H-1B is an employer-sponsored program so Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Immigration Services Department will apply on your behalf as petitioner. You will become the beneficiary of the petition. H-1B status can be valid for up to six years under normal circumstances. H-1B extensions beyond six years are possible, under certain circumstances, if you have a permanent residency case pending.

The H-1B process can be lengthy. To apply for your H-1B, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Immigration Services Department works with one state agency (the New York State Department of Labor) and two federal agencies (the US Department of Labor and USCIS). The time required to issue H-1B status largely depends on processing times at these three agencies. Typically, it takes about four months from the time you have submitted your completed questionnaire with all documents before an answer is received from USCIS. If your case is urgent, we can significantly decrease the processing time by using the USCIS Premium Processing Service.

Aliens of Extraordinary Ability (O-1)

Aliens having what USCIS considers to be extraordinary ability in the sciences are eligible to apply for O-1 status. Typically, this status is used if H-1B status is unavailable due to J-1 waiver issues. You must be sponsored for this status by the Center; therefore, you should contact Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Immigration Services Department for further information.

NAFTA Professionals (TN)

This immigration category applies only to Citizens of Canada or Mexico. TN status covers a wide variety of fields, including scientific research. This immigration status is renewable in yearly increments indefinitely.


The E-3 is a visa for Australian citizens to work in specialty occupations (similar to H-1B) in the United States. It has many advantages over the other types of working visas, including the ability for spouses of E-3 recipients to apply for work authorization. E-3s are usually issued for a period of two years and are renewable. There is a national numerical limit of 10,500 E-3 visas that can be issued each year.

Permanent Residency (Green Cards)

In many cases, applications for Permanent Residency in the United States require employer sponsorship. Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Immigration Services Department is the only department authorized to initiate Memorial Sloan Kettering’s sponsorship for Permanent Residency. To be sponsored for permanent residency you must be in a regular (non-training) position. If you are interested in applying for permanent residency, your lab head must submit a letter to Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Immigration Services Department indicating his or her support for the sponsorship. Once the letter has been submitted, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Immigration Services Department will contact you for an interview to discuss available options. You are responsible for any cost associated with this application.

Taxation Assistance and Information

Most individuals working in the United States are required to file income tax returns and pay social security, federal, state, and other applicable taxes. Employers are required to withhold certain taxes from your pay. Each tax situation is unique and you are advised to consult a tax professional or the appropriate agency for information specific to your case. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administers and collects taxes on behalf of the United States government. Each state also has its own tax agency. Depending on your academic appointment, your visa status, and your length of stay, you may be exempt from certain taxes. For questions related to taxation, contact Gloria Jimenez at

Tax Treaties

The United States has treaties governing the taxation of nonresident aliens in the United States. If the United States has a treaty with your country and you meet the criteria for exemption, you can either claim exemption from withholding by filing a Form 8233 or you can claim treaty benefits when you file your income tax return. Each treaty is different, but the most common criteria for determining treaty benefits are: 1) primary purpose for your visit; 2) how long you have been in the United States regardless of prior status; and 3) how much you earn. Form 8233 must be completed annually (see instructions).

Online Resources

Internet Links to Some United States Tax Agencies:

Internal Revenue Service
New York State Department of Taxation and Finance
New Jersey Division of Taxation

General Information Regarding Immigration

If you need information on citizenship or family-sponsored immigration, or you just want general information about immigration, please visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website at