Suppose the following situation:

A postdoc is staying in the USA on a J1 visa at institute X (2 yr home residency requirement applies). She is offered another postdoc position at institute Y. The start of the appointment at institute Y is several months (say, 3-6 months) after the end of the appointment at X. This poses problems with the visa, of course.

What possible options does she have to be able to accept the position at Y? Is there any way out of this situation? I'm sure many people must have been in this situation before.

  • I didn't want to go into specific details about potential solutions, as that would make the question very long and I'm not sure anything I thought of so far can really be carried out (extending the stay at X is very unlikely due to funding constraints, 3rd position for gap is unrealistic). There are many things to consider here, including how and when to get a J1 waiver, transferring visa status, connection between the end/start dates of visas and positions, staying or leaving the US during the gap, etc. Assume Y is a unique opportunity and she's willing to go to great lengths to get it. – Joni Nov 28 '14 at 15:24
  • It is possible to get an exemption. I don't know in detail how the process works so I can't post it as an answer, but I know someone at NASA who got exempted after a senior NASA official wrote a letter to the federal government. – gerrit Nov 28 '14 at 16:33
  • @gerrit I think this is called "NIW" (National Interest Waiver). To the best of my understanding (and I'm not a lawyer) that is the only way to escape the 2 years rule. – littleadv Nov 30 '14 at 1:54