The following sentence is asked in early stage of all academic positions and postdoc jobs advertised in US-based universities or institutes:
Are you legally eligible to work in the United States?
However, this question is ambiguous and can be interpreted in at least two different ways:
- The applicant is considered eligible if he/she is in the US at the time of application submission as a citizen, green card holder or a work/study visa holder and can immediately start to work.
- The applicant is considered eligible if he/she is not in US nor is citizen and work Visa holder, but is can apply for work permit, come to US, and then work in US.
Which one is correct interpretation?
I think the confusion comes out of the term eligibility because according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, eligibility means able to be chosen for something, able to do or receive something. In our case it means able to be chosen for a job in US market, able to do or receive work offer in US.
So, I, like many other foreigners outside US, am eligible to apply for visa and work in US because I am adult older than 18 without any conviction record or illegal entry to US or illegal stay in US. So there is nothing to stop me from getting visa and hence I am eligible to apply for a job, get job offer if qualified from a US employer and then apply for the VISA to enter US.
The confusion is further intensified when some employers use the following sentence instead of the above one
Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?
Why some employers use "Authorized"? Is this a different question?
To me, the second question is much more clearer than the first one, since it asks about authority or right of working in US.
So I think in this way:
while I (without citizenship, green card, or any work visa) am ELIGIBLE to apply from my home country for a work visa, I am NOT AUTHORIZED at the time of application to work in US because I am not in US and have currently no official work permit from the government. Is this right?
Question 1: So how should I as an alien without citizenship, green card, student visa, work visa, visitor visa, or any other document that enables me to work in US should answer this question?
Question 2: How does saying "NO" to this question impacts on chance of getting interview by universities for academic or postdoc positions?