Attachment B to Research Policy Handbook 9.4,
Originally issued: July 1, 2010
Updated: March 8, 2012
Postdoctoral scholars at Stanford are advanced non-matriculating student trainees in an educational program. Foreign national postdoctoral scholars are valued members of the Stanford academic community. In view of increasingly complex immigration and labor laws, a university-wide policy and procedure with respect to H-1B visa sponsorship for foreign postdoctoral scholars at Stanford University are defined and outlined below.
All foreign nationals holding a postdoctoral scholar positions are expected to come to Stanford University in an exchange visitor (J-1) status.
Only in compelling circumstances and only following prior review and approval will the University sponsor a postdoctoral scholar for an H-1B/E3 (or other H-1B equivalent immigration status) visa (Temporary Specialty Worker) petition.
The following circumstances warrant Stanfordís sponsorship of an H-1B petition on behalf of the postdoctoral scholar:
- The postdoctoral scholar is currently in valid H-1B status;
- The postdoctoral scholar has pending United States permanent residence as evidenced by an I-485 document;
- The postdoctoral scholar is married to a US citizen or a US permanent resident; or
- The postdoctoral scholar has received their PhD or equivalent degree in the United States on an F-1 visa and is currently completing six months of optional practical training at Stanford or elsewhere.
In cases not meeting the above criteria, the department may submit a petition to request H-1B sponsorship for a postdoctoral scholar and, if approved, the requesting department must follow the policy below described under Fees
If a department wants to sponsor a postdoctoral scholar for the H-1B visa, other than in the situations described above, the department must submit a petition to request an exemption from the J-1 policy to a Visa Review Board, appointed by the Vice Provost for Graduate Education.
Based on the review boardís recommendation, the Assistant Dean for Postdoctoral Affairs will make final determination about each petition. The review board and the Assistant Dean for Postdoctoral Affairs may also consult with the Office of the General Counsel and the Bechtel International Center as necessary.
Any petition for exemption must contain evidence to support the H-1B request in light of Stanfordís interests, with the necessary attestation regarding fees. Supporting evidence may include some or all of the following documents:
- proof of unique contributions/skill sets possessed by the proposed trainee as demonstrated through a formal application and selection process for the postdoctoral scholar position;
- significant hardship on the progress of the research project in the case of the postdoctoral scholarís possible departure from Stanford, evidenced by a pending job offer that promises an H-1B status outside of Stanford, statement from the training program director; and/ or
- in the case of a new appointment, the supporting evidence should include documentation of the absence of other candidates suitable for the postdoctoral scholar position, supported by a search process. Supporting data in this case requires position announcements, location and duration of postings, number of applicants received including assessment of qualifications of applicants.
Department administrators and appointing faculty should check the guidelines available at
http://postdocs.stanford.edu/secure/H-1B_Implementation_Guidelines.pdf detailing the required documentation in the case of new scholars and in the case of continuing scholars
The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs will convene the Review Board to evaluate the merits of each case. The board will meet on a set schedule to review the cases and recommend a decision, which will be communicated to the department in writing within one week of the review meeting date.
The department may not offer the candidate a commitment regarding the visa status until the Board reviews the case and a decision is made. If the Review Board approves a request to offer H-1B sponsorship for the scholar, the hiring department will then submit the necessary paperwork to the Bechtel International Center.
All H-1B petitions on behalf of the University must go through and be processed by the Bechtel International Center. Outside counsel may not be used to submit petitions on behalf of Stanford University. The only exception to this provision is in the case of renewals of current H-1B petitions that had been handled through external counsel. Renewals of those petitions would be done through external counsel.
Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States in J-1 status may pursue a waiver of the 2-year home return rule, where applicable, as a personal matter. Stanford University is not involved in this process.
USCIS approval of a J-1 home return waiver renders the individual and his/her dependents ineligible to begin or extend a postdoctoral appointment at Stanford, where policy stipulates that all foreign nationals holding a postdoctoral scholar position are expected to hold exchange visitor (J-1) status.
Obtaining a J-1 waiver entails non-renewal of the postdoctoral appointment unless the Department and sponsoring faculty are willing and able to sponsor an H-1B exception petition, and a favorable decision is made by the Review Board. There is no guarantee that H-1B status will be acceptable to the faculty sponsor or department, nor that a petition will be granted A postdoctoral scholar is ineligible to perform any work or receive financial remuneration or funding during the pendency of the H-1B exception application period if the postdoc is out of J-1 status. Because of such implications on eligibility to continue in postdoctoral status, Scholars who are interested in pursuing a 2-year home return waiver are strongly encouraged to discuss with their faculty sponsor(s) and seek guidance from Bechtel International Center, prior to seeking such waivers.
An internal processing fee is required by the department for approved H-1B applications, except in cases when the postdoctoral scholar is:
- already in valid H-1B status,
- has a pending permanent resident application, or
- married to a US citizen or permanent resident.
The internal processing fee of $900 must be incurred by the sponsoring department.
The scholar may pay USCIS processing fees, except for the anti-fraud fee which is required to be paid by the employer per US law, only if doing so does not reduce the wages earned by the Scholar below the minimum funding level appropriate to the Scholar based on years of prior experience that is required by the university.
With respect to other USCIS processing fees, departments should establish their internal policy in order to ensure equity among scholars in the department. Whenever possible, departments are encouraged to establish policies that would not require postdoctoral scholars to pay any fees related to their securing a position at Stanford University.
Because approved exceptions typically would be made in order to support a recruitment effort to bring the scholar to Stanford, it follows that departments are strongly discouraged from asking the scholar to pay processing fees associated with an H-1B petition in order to avoid a false impression that a candidateís willingness to pay such fees might influence the appointment decision.
This policy takes effect on July 1, 2010. The policy is applicable to all current postdoctoral scholars at Stanford, regardless of their appointment date and any incoming scholars whose appointments take effect on or after July 1, 2010.
Current scholars on H-1B may remain in Stanford-sponsored H-1B status through the duration of their appointment. Renewals of H-1B petitions that had been handled through external counsel would be done through external counsel.