Postdoctoral Fellows

Information for Postdoctoral Researchers and Visiting Scholars

The Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Scholar process varies depending upon a variety of factors. For U.S. citizens and permanent residents, the process is fairly simple and straightforward. For foreign nationals, the process is a bit more intricate due to visa and health insurance requirements.

In general, the process is as follows:

U.S. Citizens and U.S. Permanent Residents:

  • Professor, or program assistant, sends appointment form to Department Assistant (DA).
  • DA initiates contact with scholar requesting certain information. For scholars not funded through Northwestern, you will need to provide proof of funding.
  • If scholar is not benefits eligible, he/she must either submit health insurance information for review and approval, or, obtain a policy through NU's Risk Management department. For more information regarding the policy, please see the Visiting Scholar Health Insurance Waiver requirements.*
  • Once all information is obtained, and health insurance secured and/or approved, an appointment form is sent to the Dean’s office for review by the Associate Dean of Research.
  • If approved, the signed form, along with an appointment letter is returned to the DA.
  • Scholar checks in with the DA on start date. Prior to checking in, all scholars paid by Northwestern should complete Section 1 of the I-9/E-Verify process. Section 2 will be completed upon check-in.

Foreign Nationals on F1-OPT Program:

The process for these types of beneficiaries is generally the same as U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The beneficiary should apply for the OPT option through his or her Ph.D. institution. The process for obtaining work authorization is approximately 3 months. You will not be able to complete the I-9/e-verify process until you have received your EAD card. Receipt notices are not accepted as work authorization.

Foreign Nationals:

  • Professor, or program assistant, sends appointment form to DA.
  • DA initiates contact with scholar requesting certain information. Scholar will submit various items, including a copy of his or her passport biographical page, Exchange Visitor DS-2019 Request Form, and proof of funding letter, if required.
  • If scholar is not benefits eligible, he/she must either submit current health insurance information for review and approval, or, obtain a policy through NU's Risk Management department. For more information regarding the policy, please see the Visiting Scholar Health Insurance Waiver requirements.*
  • Once all information is obtained, and health insurance secured and/or approved, an appointment form is sent to the Dean’s office for review by the Associate Dean of Research.
  • If approved, the signed form, along with an appointment letter is returned to the DA.
  • A complete dossier, inclusive of proof of adequate health insurance, is submitted to the International Office for processing of the J1 program DS-2019.**
  • Scholar receives an email once DS-2019 is ready for DA to retrieve, with instructions to the scholar regarding payment of the SEVIS fees.
  • DS-2019 is sent to scholar via FedEx.
  • Once scholar receives the DS-2019, scholar will make an appointment with the U.S. Consulate.  Interview waiting times vary by consulate.
  • Once entry visa stamp is obtained, scholar may then arrange for travel to U.S.
  • Upon arrival, scholar will first check in with the International Office.
  • After checking in with the International Office, the scholar will check in with the DA.

*   All scholars are required to maintain adequate health insurance in order to work in Northwestern labs. Additionally, foreign nationals within the J1 program (including dependents) are not allowed to enroll in any state sponsored programs. Failure to maintain adequate health insurance, or violating the terms of the J1 program, may result in program termination.

** The policy of the Department of Chemistry is that all foreign nationals must be on a J1 visa, or F1-OPT, unless there are extenuating circumstances that disallow participation in these programs. Please do not request another status.

All beneficiaries are responsible for ensuring timely renewal of their program, and ensuring that all dependents are renewed as well. Please visit the International Office if you have questions regarding your program requirements.