International Postdoctoral Scholar Support

Support for international postdocs

The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral studies has a dedicated program manager to support both our domestic and international postdoctoral scholar trainees. The GPS Office works closely with International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office to provide resources, information and services directly applicable to current and incoming international trainees.

For prospective, incoming and current trainees, we can assist with providing key information relevant to VISA status (i.e. J1 vs. H1B), salary and health insurance, job codes used by the University of Minnesota system, advise you on support for your dependents and opportunities for your spouse/dependents to legally work, how to maintain your legal status and housing eligibilities and to be available to discuss career opportunities as you advance through your training in the Medical School. 

Important Resources and Information for International Postdocs


H-1B VISA is designed a "specialty occupation" and, for immigration purposes,  is defined as an occupation that requires "a theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge,” and a Bachelor’s degree or higher in a specific field of study. Most biomedical researchers that have attained a PhD meet this requirement. Individuals in this VISA classification will be paid wages.  Importantly, postdoctoral fellows are (9560) are not eligible for H-1B sponsorship. 

H-1B status is limited to 6 years, inclusive of all employers; the 6-year period starts over after an employee has left the U.S. for one full year. Exceptions to the 6-year limit exist for certain individuals who have reached a specific stage of the "Green Card" process.


If you are interested in coming to the University of Minnesota for the purpose of collaborating with our faculty in research education and training, you will typically be invited to the U.S. on a J-1 visa. As a postdoctoral scholar, you are required to have an PhD, MD, DVM or equivalent-level doctorate degree.

During the process of searching for a faculty member to engage in research training with in the Medical School, the faculty member's home department (or organization unit that handles administrative processes) will work with the University to process DS-2019, which is the "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status" basic document used in the administration of the exchange visitor program. That process of completing between you and the Medical School administrative unit (or Department) can take several months to complete. Thus, it can be expected that it would take 4-6 months to complete all processes for receiving legal permission and documentation to enter the US and begin your training in the Medical School at the University of Minnesota.

Permanent Residence

Obtaining U.S. permanent residence (PR) allows a foreign citizen to live and work permanently in the U.S. while retaining home country citizenship. PR is not the same as U.S. citizenship. There are a number of terms that are used to refer to PR, including: green card, immigrant status, immigrant visa, lawful permanent residence (LPR), resident alien. Learn more about ways to apply for Permanent Residence on the USCIS website.

Other Important Information for International Postdocs

Housing Affordability, Access and Restrictions

Finding housing is an important step for living, studying, and working at the University of Minnesota. There are a variety of housing options available to students and scholars both on-campus and off-campus. International Student and Scholar Services office has assembled some important resources and provided insight to help international students.  Additionally, we at the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral studies are also available to assist you in helping to find housing -- please contact us at

Important links to help in meeting your housing needs.

When to Arrive
Most international students and scholars arrange housing when they arrive in Minnesota. If you will live off-campus, we recommend that you arrive three weeks in advance to search for housing and make other arrangements. Before the fall semester, inexpensive temporary housing is available specifically for international students. This will give you time to find the housing situation that fulfills your needs.

Temporary Housing
Before the start of the fall semester, new international students can stay in the International Early Arrival Housing. This temporary on-campus housing is an affordable option for new students needing somewhere to stay before they can move into their permanent on- or off-campus housing. For costs and reservations, please visit International Early Arrival Housing.

Changing from Nonimmigrant Status

For J1 Scholars, there are several steps you need to take w hen you change status from a nonimmigrant status to permanent residence. 

First, contact your I-9/Payroll Administrator in your department to show your original permanent resident (green) card and do a new Form I-9 online to update your visa status for Payroll purposes. Complete the J-1 Scholar Pre-Departure E-Form in MyISSS so that your J-1 record can be completed. 

Second, ensure your eligibility to maintain your current residence/housing. Many University of Minnesota affiliated partners for Housing have strict restrictions on what status (i.e. job codes) retain eligibility for living at that residence. By changing your status, you may remove your eligibility. Please speak with the GPS Office staff prior to changing your job code status.

Financial Institutions and Banking in the US

To keep your money in a financial institution you must open an account. Usually you need a photo I.D., such as a passport or Minnesota State I.D. to open an account, and you are often asked to provide a Social Security Number (SSN). However, you are not required to have a SSN. Before opening an account, ask at the institution's information desk about the types of services it offers. These can vary widely. However, there are basically two different types of accounts:

Checking Accounts: Many institutions offer free checking if you keep a balance of $100 to $300 in your account; a few (e.g. TCF Bank) offer free checking with no minimum balance. Banks that do not offer free checking may charge you a small fee per check you use, or a basic monthly fee. Some banks might require you to deposit a minimum amount to open an account.

Savings Accounts: Savings accounts earn interest. You can withdraw any amount at any time during regular hours. Some institutions will charge a monthly service fee if your balance is below a certain amount, or if you make more than a certain number of transactions per month.


International Support for our Medical School Postdocs

Support for our international postdocs in the Medical School is a key priority for Medical School Postdoctoral Council.  For both our current and incoming postdocs, we work to support you by working closely with leadership to provide key resources, services and information important most relevant to international trainees.  If you have any questions or feedback, please e-mail the council at

Medical School Postdoctoral Council,
Milagros Silva Morales, PhD