International Postdocs

Immigration Issues

Human Resources-Immigration Services (HR/IS) and the International Student and Scholar Program (ISSP) at UVa are the central resources for matters related to acquiring and maintaining a lawful presence in the United States. The International Studies Office (ISO) also supports international students and scholars with their transition to American society and culture, as well as advising on all matters of concern to the University’s international community. The contact for J1/J2 exchange visitors is Polly Lawson, International Student & Scholar Advisor (434-982-3015); email [email protected].

Immigration Services assists with matters concerning employment immigration visas (H-1B, O-1, TN, etc), Permanent Resident applications (green cards), employment authorization, immigration policy, and related issues. HR/IS also holds immigration workshops throughout the year. The contact for Immigration Services is Timothy J. White, Supervisor, Immigration Services (434-982-2735); email [email protected].


Visas for Postdoctoral Scholars and Fellowships at U.Va

Department of Homeland Security regulations require that to be eligible for an H-1B visa an individual must be classified as an employee in UVa’s payroll system, and, as an employee, the foreign national must pay all applicable taxes (income tax via a W-2 form and FICA). Fellows at UVa are not typically considered employees, are not paid through the UVa payroll system, and receive a different set of benefits than employees. As a result, the H-1B visa is not an appropriate choice for postdoc fellows at UVa. Departments interested in offering future postdoctoral fellowships to foreign nationals should consult with the International Studies Office regarding the requirements for a J-1 visa, or may choose to hire the fellow as an employee and process payments through the U.Va payroll system if allowed under the terms of the grant.


Tax Issues

The University of Virginia is required to comply with U.S. federal tax law when making payments to or on behalf of non-citizens of the United States. In addition to tax regulations, certain payments are only allowable based on an individual’s immigration status pursuant to immigration law. Since UVA is required to comply with U.S. tax and immigration laws when making payments to its foreign visitors, and since these rules can be extremely complex, UVa Finance employs an International Tax Analyst devoted specifically to these matters. The International Tax Analyst can assist UVa’s foreign visitors in understanding their U.S. tax obligations while keeping UVa in compliance with tax and immigration laws.

Many international students, research scholars and visitors come to UVa, and most are "nonresident aliens" for tax purposes. Individuals who are deemed to be "nonresident aliens" for US federal income tax purposes are subject to tax under the Internal Revenue Code. In general, all income (wages, scholarships, fellowships, prizes, awards, etc.) paid by the university to a foreign person, or to a third party on behalf of the foreign person, is taxable UNLESS the income is:

(1) exempt from tax under the provisions of an income tax treaty between the U.S. and the person's country of residence;

(2) exempt from tax under an Internal Revenue Code section; or 

(3) is foreign sourced income.

These tax laws are complex and can be very confusing to the foreign national and/or staff person responsible for complying with the regulation. The International Tax Analyst is available to help you understand some of these confusing tax issues whether you are the international student, scholar, or visitor receiving a payment, or the faculty/staff attempting to make a payment to a non-citizen. For questions about tax issues related to foreign nationals, please contact:

Azamat Akhmedov, International tax issues; [email protected]

Logan Hobbs, International tax issues; [email protected]


Other Resources

The primary University resource for developing written and spoken English skills is the Center for American English Language and Culture (CAELC).  CAELC offers a bi-annual course jointly developed by VPR and CAELC and designed specifically for postdoctoral researchers. Postdocs are also welcome to enroll in other CAELC courses as space allows.

The National Postdoctoral Association publishes an International Postdoc Survival Guide and provides links to other helpful information targeted specifically to the needs and interests of international postdocs.