What are the main advantages and disadvantages of trying to get J1 vs H1B visas to the USA for a married individual applying for postdoctoral positions (i.e. temporary research position)?

Consider: married to someone from a different country, both need visas to the USA, no clear long-term plan yet on where to settle in the future (though the USA is not particularly attractive in the long term). Staying in academia means no geographic stability and sometimes not ending up in the place where one would most like to.

I'm looking for objective answers to the question above about the differences between these visa types, particularly for scholars (one's status affects the rules that each visa type comes with). The answers do not need to take into account my personal situation. I mentioned it in case something I wouldn't expect to influence a visa does make a difference.

  • Excuse my less than scientific comment. I am a university professor. I used to be on an F1 visa whilst a student. My international programs office and my department/HR/immigration attorney have explicitly said that they would avoid a J1 "like the plague". It apparently is stifling. Changes/adjustment of status is difficult (don't know how it is measured), the 2 year home stay requirement may not always be waived. IF possible, an H1B is a far better option, as per my univ. Having said that, I will look for quantitative measures to explain if I can.
    – dearN
    Sep 8, 2014 at 10:45
  • I return bearing gifts. This webpage seems to have the comparison tabulated. Obviously, many sources may need to be researched for a "definitive" answer.
    – dearN
    Sep 8, 2014 at 11:07
  • @drN Thank you, these are useful comments. Sorry about being very slow with replies. I chose to post anonymously which ties this (unregitered) account to a single computer.
    – KP9J
    Sep 8, 2014 at 17:55

1 Answer 1


J2 will be allowed to work, H4 will not.

H1b however is a dual intent visa and you can apply for green card without being stuck.

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