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I was accepted to a fully funded PhD program in CMU. The university claims that they don't issue J-1 visas for students at all, even if they are funded. Has anyone ever heard of such a thing?

Is there any other way that a spouse can get a working permit?

 

 

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Yes, I have heard of such a thing. One of my top choice schools told me the same thing during my visit. The requirements (e.g. funding minimums) from the US Department of State / US Immigration are just the minimum requirements you must meet in order to be eligible for sponsorship of J-1 status. However, ultimately, the school has to choose to sponsor you for J-1 status and some schools choose not to, for whatever reasons.

As an international student, your only choices are F-1 or J-1, so no, there are no other ways for a spouse of a student to get a work permit ("Employment Authorization Document", or EAD) as your dependent. However, depending on the country your spouse is from and what their training/work is, they might be able to apply for their own visa and get permission to work or an EAD through that method.

For me, that was not an option, so the school that decided to not sponsor me for J-1 was immediately taken off our list once they refused to budge on that position. I did inform them that their decision to not sponsor J-1 students was the primary reason I did not choose their program and that many students need to be on J-1 status in order to choose a program in the USA. Although this sounds like I think very highly of myself and that it's "their loss" that I didn't attend, it wasn't my intention and I tried to make that clear. Instead, I think it's important for schools/programs/officials to have testimony and stats that people are turning down their program because of this decision, otherwise the decision will never change for future applicants. It could even be that many people there want to change the decision but they need stats to show that this is a serious problem.

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18 hours ago, TakeruK said:

For me, that was not an option, so the school that decided to not sponsor me for J-1 was immediately taken off our list once they refused to budge on that position.

Unfortunately, I think that I will also have to decline their offer because of this issue. It's really annoying that they decided to accept me but would not offer the visa.  

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Indeed, that's super frustrating :( In addition, this is something international scholars face at later stages too: for those that want a path to PR, we need to find an employer that will sponsor H1-B status and not that many employers are willing to do so (due to cost and time involved). Luckily, this didn't affect me since I didn't want to stay in the US post-PhD.

I also think it's really silly that the US system discourages and makes it hard to get some sort of status even though tons of US resources (both money and time) were used to train PhD students. Their system makes it so that many very talented US-trained people are forced to leave. It's especially jarring when you compare it to my home country (Canada) where dependents of students are granted work permits with minimal hassle and your time as a PhD student counts towards permanent residency because we want to keep Canadian-trained foreign skilled workers here in Canada! Anyways, I feel your frustration! /endrant

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11 hours ago, blah1 said:

Maybe I'll go to Canada instead, it sounds much more comfortable (;

We'd love to have you :) Canadian profs have told me that the number of grad applications to Canada from international students have rose a lot this year compared to previous years!

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12 hours ago, PhD_hopeful_ said:

If I get a full teaching assistantship (tuition and stipend)  from a university, does that mean I have to apply for a J-1 visa?

What do you mean "have to". No, you are not required to apply for J-1 visa specifically. There are two main visas for foreign students studying in the USA: F-1 and J-1. Having a full funding offer means you are eligible for J-1 so if you want a J-1 and if your school is willing to sponsor your J-1 application, then you could apply for J-1. If you don't want a J-1, you can still apply for F-1 (let the school know what you would like). If you want a J-1, then while you have met the main funding requirement to be eligible for J-1, you still need the school to be willing to sponsor you for J-1 (not all schools would do this). If they do not want to sponsor you for J-1 then if you attend that school, you will have to apply for F-1.

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On 3/7/2018 at 11:29 PM, TakeruK said:

 However, depending on the country your spouse is from and what their training/work is, they might be able to apply for their own visa and get permission to work or an EAD through that method.

Hi TakeruK could you elaborate more on this? what visa might this be? and do you know where I can find such information?

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Hi guys,

I hope to revive this thread a bit and find somebody that was able to receive J1 visa for their PhD, or that knows such person/case. :(  One of the universities that accepted me guarantees funding for full 5 years. However, they say they still can not issue J-1 to me based on these:

https://j1visa.state.gov/programs/college-and-university-student

2nd condition:

"be carried out according to an agreement between the U.S. government and a foreign government, or according to a written agreement between American and foreign educational institutions, an American educational institution and a foreign government or a state or local government in the United States and a foreign government; or Student is participating in a student internship program that will fulfill the educational objectives for the student’s degree program in his or her home country; 

Does this mean that all the people who previously received J-1 were somehow arranged by their home country?? I am a bit desperate because this would mean there is no chance ever for me to get J-1 even though it seemed like a viable option if the full PhD is funded. Honestly this is such a mess ,every school tells me something a bit different... Any tips and suggestions will be helpful! 

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7 hours ago, zuska said:

Hi guys,

I hope to revive this thread a bit and find somebody that was able to receive J1 visa for their PhD, or that knows such person/case. :( One of the universities that accepted me guarantees funding for full 5 years. However, they say they still can not issue J-1 to me based on these:

https://j1visa.state.gov/programs/college-and-university-student

2nd condition:

"be carried out according to an agreement between the U.S. government and a foreign government, or according to a written agreement between American and foreign educational institutions, an American educational institution and a foreign government or a state or local government in the United States and a foreign government; or Student is participating in a student internship program that will fulfill the educational objectives for the student’s degree program in his or her home country; 

Does this mean that all the people who previously received J-1 were somehow arranged by their home country?? I am a bit desperate because this would mean there is no chance ever for me to get J-1 even though it seemed like a viable option if the full PhD is funded. Honestly this is such a mess ,every school tells me something a bit different... Any tips and suggestions will be helpful! 

8

No - but it seems to be more a school policy thing.

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On 3/26/2019 at 6:14 PM, Psygeek said:

No - but it seems to be more a school policy thing.

So it definitely seems like it is a school policy thing. My current situation is that the program webpage says F1 or J1 is available for grad students within the program and doesnt specify any requirements that are different for J-1. The international department then says nope, we do not issue J-1 to students like you.

Do you guys think it is reasonable to ask them for some sort of guidelines that they use? I am sure there is some kind of document that describes the actual requirements/decision making in more detail besides " you do not meet our requirements". Of course I understand it will not change my situation right now, but having these requirements available would be very helpful for me if I wanted to seek other options in the future. I mean, they did send that link from gov. webpage, but since now it has been confirmed also by them that this is specific per university, I was hoping maybe there is some document or anything that could help me... I have always asked for these guidelines as a part of longer e-mail and that part was always ignored (well, if twice counts as always...)

 My issue is that the lady at the international department seems quite agitated with me asking questions. I really believe I am being very polite and also make sure they understand I absolutely accept their decision, I only have more questions as this has huge impact on my private life. Do you guys believe it is ok for me to keep (politely) asking for better guidance or I should just accept they want me to leave them alone? Previously I have attended institution in US that is a bit smaller and so I got used to a friendly and helpful relationship with international office...

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On 5/17/2019 at 8:30 PM, zuska said:

So it definitely seems like it is a school policy thing. My current situation is that the program webpage says F1 or J1 is available for grad students within the program and doesnt specify any requirements that are different for J-1. The international department then says nope, we do not issue J-1 to students like you.

Do you guys think it is reasonable to ask them for some sort of guidelines that they use? I am sure there is some kind of document that describes the actual requirements/decision making in more detail besides " you do not meet our requirements". Of course I understand it will not change my situation right now, but having these requirements available would be very helpful for me if I wanted to seek other options in the future. I mean, they did send that link from gov. webpage, but since now it has been confirmed also by them that this is specific per university, I was hoping maybe there is some document or anything that could help me... I have always asked for these guidelines as a part of longer e-mail and that part was always ignored (well, if twice counts as always...)

 My issue is that the lady at the international department seems quite agitated with me asking questions. I really believe I am being very polite and also make sure they understand I absolutely accept their decision, I only have more questions as this has huge impact on my private life. Do you guys believe it is ok for me to keep (politely) asking for better guidance or I should just accept they want me to leave them alone? Previously I have attended institution in US that is a bit smaller and so I got used to a friendly and helpful relationship with international office...

Would love to know what happened to you -- I could be in this situation next year and I am sure there are many others in it even now.

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I think you have to be mindful that the government at this point changes a lot too. I think the biggest thing that you may run into is the funds they guarantee not being 'high enough' to cover local living costs, insurance, etc. The university is basically 'sponsoring' you and has some sort of responsibility to make sure you complete the 'exchange program'.

Note that stipeneds and the like most likely vary between departments or even students within a department. 

 

Both my former and current uni basically mentioned that the financial part is one of the biggest considerations and amounts are decided based on local living costs etc. 

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