I have an offer for a 1-year graduate internship at Los Alamos National Laboratory (I'm an engineer and PhD student in engineering) and I'll probably be issued a (research scholar) J-1 Visa. Actually I'm already at LANL for a shorter period and with a different agreement (I'm just a visitor, not an employee), on a Visa Waiver Program (ESTA).
What I'm concerned of is the dreaded "Two-Year Home-Country Physical Requirement", as I want to stay long term at Los Alamos, and I already have potential contacts to go on with a postoc here (as long as I stay here during my PhD so that they can know me better). The two-year rule would prevent me from obtaining a new J-1, while the "24-month bar" rule will prevent me to get another J-1.
I come from Italy, which does not appear on the "skill list": https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/skill-list-by-country.html
The program is not going to be found by my contry and is not part of my PhD thesis, and I'll have no scolarship during the internship. I'll be hired by the lab (so I'll be an employee) and receive a salary for a total amount of 50,000 - 60,000 $ according to the exact duration of the internship. Being Los Alamos funded by the US Government, I think I'll be a bearer of the two-year rule.
Here are my possibilities:
1) The first is the "No objection waiver". But there is a problem: as you can read in the following link, "A “no objection” letter is generally insufficient to warrant a favorable recommendation from the Secretary of State when U.S. government funding was involved in the exchange program."
Again, the lab is funded by the US government. So, I guess this option won't work, am I right?
2) The "Interested Government Agency" waiver, in case I obtain a job afterwards and my institution (Los Alamos) think that the two-year rule would be detrimental to the interest on the United States. In theory, this is an option. In practice, does someone know if it's feasible? Again, govt financing may complicate things.
3) Do not accept a J-1 Visa at all.
Can someone give me some counceling, please?
Thank you very much in advance!