I am an undergraduate who wants to do some research opportunity during this summer vacation. Thing went quite well and "the Laboratory" offered me a Student Assistant position. In case that's relevant, this is a paid position.
After accepting the offer, I started working on the visa stuff. My prospective research leader suggested me to get a J-1 visa, so I contact the relevant clerk at the Laboratory to request a DS-2019 form. To my surprise, they just told me
Thank you for your information. However, please note the Laboratory does not sponsor for J-1 visa status for visitors who do not have an undergraduate degree. As such, we ask you to get in touch with the 3rd party agency, https://www.culturalvistas.org/ to initiate your J-1 visa sponsorship. Please keep me posted once you have received the visa and ready to enter the US for the appointment.
As far as I know, universities/laboratories would issue a DS-2019 form to me directly in most cases, and undergraduates are usually not paid for doing research during their vacation. I asked some people around me about if this is normal, and they told me that the salary I'm receiving can make the visa application process much more complicated. If my position was unpaid, I can get a DS-2019 from the Laboratory easily.
I need to arrive at the beginning of July 2019, but I have just started applying for a DS-2019, so the schedule is quite tight now, and I really appreciate this opportunity. Would thing become easier if I contact the Laboratory and ask them not to give me any salary?