I am a recent PhD graduate (mathematics) from Europe, and I am looking for a job in the US. My CV is not that great to get a postdoc or a teaching job at some prestigious university (where they would probably be able to get me a visa). Is there any chance I could get a job at some small college (maybe some small state university or community college) without already having a visa? Will I be able to get a visa if I get accepted as an instructor there?

  • In the US the employer needs to file a petition for a foreign worker, which is the bulk of the work required to obtain a visa. You need a job offer from an employer willing to do that work to hire you.
    – Dennis
    Oct 6, 2017 at 16:18
  • Check on Academia. I'm pretty sure that I've seen this question asked. If I remember correctly, it's unlikely that a community college or other small colleges would bother as there are plenty of Ph.Ds seeking employment.
    – mkennedy
    Oct 6, 2017 at 16:46
  • @mkennedy Thank you for your answer. I could not find any relevant question in Academia.
    – Sumac
    Oct 6, 2017 at 17:03
  • I think I was thinking of this one which is tangentially related. I see they closed your question almost immediately.
    – mkennedy
    Oct 6, 2017 at 17:14

2 Answers 2


As far as the official rules are concerned, it does not matter if the petition comes from a well-known university or a community college.

The big problem is that there is significant paperwork involved. Well-known universities that aim to recruit the best qualified students and faculty on a world-wide basis have staff who do that paperwork regularly, and are likely to do it correctly.

A smaller school may not want to get involved in international hiring at all.

I suggest contacting several possible colleges to ask if they sponsor international faculty.

  • Thank you. So, I guess small colleges are not really an option. I may try to contact some of them just in case though, as you suggested. Do you know if this process of getting such a work permit is long?
    – Sumac
    Oct 7, 2017 at 6:23
  • 3
    @Sumac, The common employment status for a job requiring a degree is an H-1B. For H-1B applicants the process can be quite long. There is a yearly cap on the number of visas that can be issued, and these are usually assigned by lottery during one week in April. The saving grace for you is that institutes of higher education are generally cap-exempt for H-1Bs and may have other options as well, so if you can find a school willing to hire you they should be able to do the paperwork relatively quickly by normal standards.
    – Dennis
    Oct 7, 2017 at 19:01
  • Besides the H1-B visa, top professors are also sometimes hired on an O-visa, but this would not be appropriate for a recent Ph.D. That would be for a top senior academic. Oct 10, 2017 at 20:41

Don't count out a postdoc. Postdocs in the US are often highly reliant on international postgrads, especially in STEM fields. Apply widely, and see what happens. You may have competencies that can be extended to other related fields. Consider your strengths and build up a resume that works to display your practical experience, theoretical background and comprehensive skills. Be sure that this works in English too for your intended audience-- putting things up on Linkedin or a personal website can also work to make you are more attractive candidate. Good luck!

  • 1
    What immigration status do these "international postgrads" typically have?
    – phoog
    Oct 11, 2017 at 19:20
  • @phoog, Maybe J-1, sometimes. "Professor and Research Scholar" is one of the program categories.
    – Dennis
    Oct 12, 2017 at 5:01

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