Friday, September 21, 2007

Visa joys

So my time at my previous postdoc is over. It ended in May, which I think was good as I believe that I needed a change from what I had been working on, or at least where I’d been working. So I began hunting for a new position during the last quarter of 2006 and managed to get a couple of interviews for different positions, although I was unsuccessful for wither of those. Then early this year I applied for one position and got a phone call from my prospective employer the day after I’d applied, which turned into an interview. I was subsequently offered this position and I’m very excited about it. It’s an opportunity for me to head back into a field that interests me, conservation and wildlife management.

The only downside is that I was meant to start this position on 1 July. It’s now nearing the end of September and it looks like I won’t be starting till mid October. What happened? Well several things. There was a breakdown in communication. The primary problem is that this job is in the USA and I’m not a US citizen. Hence I need a work visa to be employed there and because I’d been on a J1 visa for my previous position I need a different visa class (unless of course I wind up back in my home country for a year or longer and I’ll almost be half way there soon).

Now when I was offered this job they were expecting me to look into the visa situation and I did. I discovered several things that I relayed to them back in late March. Firstly, I’d discovered that I couldn’t get another j1 since I’d just been working in the country on one. Secondly, that the type of visa that I needed would was an h1b. And finally, that I couldn’t file the visa application myself because under USA immigration law, the employer had to file on behalf of the applicant. They got the first two points but seemed to miss the paragraph explaining the last point in the email that I sent them. Now the part is largely my fault since I didn’t check up on them again till late April to find that they hadn’t done anything and still thought that I needed to do the visa application. Bugger!

Since then we’ve been working on the visa application (well they have and I’ve been checking up a lot more frequently). We’re currently on plan C. The first plan was to employ me through a small foundation, but this fell through. For the h1b visa there is a cap on the total number of visas they give out (either 64000 or 115000ish) and applications for these can take between two to six months so usually people get their application in starting form May to June so that they can start work in October. However there are exemptions to this cap for non-profit organizations (hence the small foundation). Unfortunately it turned out that the small foundation was too small.

The next plan was to employ me through The Nature Conservatory. This plan lasted all of about two weeks. Apparently The Nature Conservancy wasn’t too keen on taking contactors where all the money was coming from one grant (or something to that effect).

So currently we’re on plan C. I’m going to be employed through one of the US Universities. This is progressing at this point and I should be hearing back within 2 -2.5 weeks about it if everything goes smoothly (fingers crossed).


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