Immigration Services

Memorial Sloan Kettering provides assistance to postdoctoral researchers who require immigration services to complete their training.

Incoming MSK postdocs can reach out to the pertinent Immigration Services staff member with any questions regarding work-related immigration issues.

Visa Type Contact Email Phone
J-1 Jose A. Bueno-Roca buenoroj@mskcc.org 646-227-3197
H-1B and Other Visas Patricia Williams williamp@mskcc.org 646-227-3655
Green Card/Permanent Residence Adam S. Cohen cohena@mskcc.org 646-227-3001

Types of Work Visas

Please see below for details on specific types of work visas.

If you need information on citizenship or family-sponsored immigration, or you would like general information about immigration, please visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website at www.uscis.gov.

Exchange Visitors (J-1)

MSK is authorized by the U.S. government to sponsor foreign nationals to come to the United States as Exchange Visitors in the “Research Scholar” category 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 MSK’s Immigration Services department. Issuance of the DS-2019 is regulated by the U.S. Department of State. DS-2019 forms may only be issued when MSK’s Academic Administration Office approves academic appointments.

  • Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement (212 [e]). Some J-1 holders are subject to a two-year foreign residency requirement, called 212(e), which is a reference to the relevant statute, Immigration Act section 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.

  • Dependent Work Authorization (J-2). Spouses and dependent children of J-1 holders enter the United States with J-2 status. J-2 holders are entitled to apply for work permission through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. They can apply for this benefit using an I-765 form available at USCIS.gov.

Specialty Workers (H-1B)

This category is reserved for individuals who enter the United States to render services in specialty occupations, which are those that require at least a bachelor’s degree. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the H-1B program. Individuals do not apply for H-1B status; H-1B is an employer-sponsored program so MSK’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, in increments no greater than three years. H-1B extensions beyond six years are possible, under certain circumstances, if you have a permanent residence case pending.

The H-1B process can be lengthy. To apply for an H-1B, MSK must work with the U.S. Department of Labor as well as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The time required to issue H-1B status largely depends on processing times at these agencies. Typically, it takes about six to eight weeks to prepare a petition for filing following communication of the appointment by MSK’s Academic Administration to MSK’s Immigration Services department. Once filed, processing takes approximately four months before an answer is received from USCIS. In certain urgent circumstances, we can significantly decrease the processing time by using the USCIS Premium Processing Service.

Aliens of Extraordinary Ability (O-1)

Prospective postdocs from other countries who possess what USCIS considers to be extraordinary ability in the sciences may be eligible to apply for O-1 status. Typically, this status is used when H-1B status is unavailable due to J-1 home residence requirements, but only in the event that the postdoc’s credentials meet the regulatory requirement for classification as extraordinary. O-1 is an employer-sponsored status, meaning that MSK must agree to act as your sponsor in order for you to receive this status. The initial grant of O-1 status may be up for three years, with renewals in yearly increments.

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 up to three-year increments.

E-3

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 to apply for work authorization. E-3s are usually issued for a period of two years and are renewable indefinitely in two-year increments. There is a cap of 10,500 on the number of E-3 visas that can be issued each year.

Permanent Residency (Green Cards)

MSK is able to sponsor certain qualifying postdocs in the “Outstanding Researcher” permanent residence category. In many cases, applications for Permanent Residency in the United States require employer sponsorship. MSK’s Immigration Services department is the only department within MSK authorized to initiate sponsorship for Permanent Residency. To be sponsored for permanent residency as a postdoc you must hold the title of Research Associate. If you are interested in applying for permanent residency, your lab head must submit a letter to MSK’s Immigration Services indicating his or her support for the sponsorship. Thereafter, MSK’s Immigration Services department will review your credentials and determine whether you meet the regulatory requirements for classification as Outstanding Researcher. 

In addition to this employer-sponsored path to permanent residence, postdocs may qualify for permanent residence through self-petition categories, including “Extraordinary Ability” and “National Interest Waiver.” MSK does not sponsor employees in those categories. However, MSK’s Immigration Services department offers consultations to postdocs considering self-petitions. 

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 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.

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).