Foreign academics and researchers who have immigrated to the United States as university professors and lecturers have enlarged the community of science and technology professionals, bringing fresh and creative ideas. They have not only helped their companies but also made incalculable contributions to the national interest of the United States.

The difficulty for academics and researchers, as well as the organizations that employ them, is determining the best strategy to attract and keep talented individuals in the United States. We provide an overview of some of the most popular nonimmigrant U.S. visa alternatives for academics and researchers.

Colleges and universities have the challenge of educating undergraduate and graduate students for life beyond their degree programs – and employing foreign faculty and having a dynamic team of professors, scholars, researchers, and professional staff offer critical scaffolding for that objective.

This article will tell you about immigrating to the U.S. as university professors and lecturers, their U.S. visa options, salary, etc.

What do University Professors and Lecturers Do?

A professor is someone who teaches pupils beyond high school in a wide range of academic and vocational areas. In addition, they undertake research and produce scholarly books and articles. Educators are employed in universities, colleges, and career and technical schools, including public and private universities. Professors are known to perform the following:

  • Teach a wide range of disciplines, including chemistry, culinary arts, and nursing.
  • Work with students pursuing a degree, diploma, or certification or attending programs to enhance their knowledge or job abilities.
  • Create a syllabus for their subject and ensure it complies with college and department requirements.
  • Make lesson plans and assignments.
  • Grading papers and examinations allow you to track your pupils’ progress.
  • Give students suggestions on which classes to take and how to reach their objectives.
  • Keep up to date on developments and advances in their sector.
  • Conduct experiments and research to increase understanding in their profession.
  • Supervise graduate students pursuing doctoral degrees.
  • Original research and analysis should be published in books and academic publications.
  • Participate in academic and administrative committees that analyze and suggest policies, make budget choices, or advise on department recruitment and promotion.

Working Conditions and Environment of University Professors and Lecturers in the U.S.

College instructors have somewhat flexible working hours. They must teach a given number of classes, usually during the work week, have a certain amount of office hours each week, and attend committee hearings as needed. However, teachers can set out time for research, assessing papers, and preparing for lessons. Furthermore, college instructors get numerous holidays off and just a modest workload, if any, during the summer.

College instructors spend much of their time indoors, in classrooms, offices, conference rooms, libraries, and research facilities. They may stand for significant amounts of time while teaching in the classroom but are otherwise seated at work.

Basic Requirements for Professors to Immigrate to the U.S.

Colleges expect their lecturers to be experts in their fields. They are invited to visit conferences, read new materials, and keep their skills and knowledge up to date. Many academics must provide primary research books and essays for peer-reviewed journals. Some institutions offer teachers sabbaticals to seek research and continuing education credits.

Master’s degree

Your academic record must be good, and you need a master’s degree in any field. In addition, if you are in a general category, you must have a minimum aggregate mark of 55%, and if you are in a minority group, a minimum mark of 50%.

Competitive exam score

It is necessary to have taken and passed any of the government-approved competitive tests listed below:

National Eligibility Test (NET): This test is administered twice a year by the National Testing Agency (NTA), which is part of the University Grants Commission (UGC), to choose teachers at colleges and universities across the country.

Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE): This exam is given annually by the GATE committee. The score is good for three years and can be used to enroll in masters or doctorate programs.

State Level Eligibility Test (SET): The NTA administers the SET once a year in English and vernacular languages. Passing it permits you to serve as a lecturer at a state-level institution or university.

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR): The NTA holds the national-level CSIR NET two times a year to select applicants for lecturer jobs or junior research fellowships in several science subjects.

Doctoral degree

If you obtain a Ph.D. degree from a regular university, you can get a professor job without taking any competitive tests. This signifies that at least two external evaluators have examined your research thesis, and you have appeared for viva voce. You must also have at least two related research publications published.

Teaching experience and skills

Three to fourteen years of formal educational teaching and mentoring experience are required. A confident, optimistic attitude and unique teaching approaches that appeal to your kids can assist. In addition, you must have excellent communication and presentation abilities and the ability to convey your subject clearly and passionately. Good organization, time management, and problem-solving skills may also be advantageous.

Research and publications

You must produce several peer-reviewed papers, articles, or books demonstrating your expertise and study breadth. You must also be actively involved in studying and presenting new advancements in your profession.

Types of Visas for University Professors to Immigrate to the US

J-1 visa for university professors

The J-1 visa category comprises a wide variety of foreign national exchange visitors, such as professors, research scholars, and teachers visiting the United States as part of an exchange program for a particular function, such as research, teaching, instructing, or lecturing.

Professors and lecturers who enter the United States in J-1 status or alter their situation might be subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement. However, suppose they are not subject to foreign residency, and instead, they are subject to the two-year home residency requirement. In that case, they are considered disqualified from changing their status in the United States. This means they can’t change their status to legal permanent resident or any other nonimmigrant status. They also can’t acquire an H, L, or immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate abroad, until they have come back to their home country or last residence and spent two years there.

It is possible for the J-1 professors to change their visa status to that of a legal permanent resident or another nonimmigrant visa type. If J-1 professors desire to stay in the U.S. beyond the deadline of their program and change their visa status, or if they desire to come back to the U.S. before completing the two years overseas, they could request a waiver of the two-year foreign residence requirement.

Three J-1 visa categories cover professors and lecturers:

J-1 “Short-term Scholar”: This type may be utilized for Visiting Scholars or Visiting Professors who will be in the United States for no more than six months. There is no set length of stay.

J-1 Professor: An individual engaged primarily in teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting at post-secondary accredited educational institutions, museums, libraries, or similar institutions. J-1 professors may perform research unless it is not allowed by the sponsor.

J-1 Research Scholar: An individual who works primarily in post-secondary authorized educational institutions, museums, libraries, or other institutions, teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting. J-1 academics may research unless the sponsor prohibits it.

H-1B visa for university professors

Employers in the United States (including many universities and research organizations) use the H-1B visa program to hire professionals in specialist vocations, such as professors and lecturers. A specialty profession necessitates the theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in the specified specialization.

The following crucial requirements must be completed to be able to qualify for an H-1B visa as a Professor or Researcher:

  • The employer must demonstrate that the employment demands at least a Bachelor’s degree in a particular discipline.
  • Foreign nationals must have the necessary degree or its equivalent.
  • Because a Bachelor’s degree, if not a Master’s degree, is often required for admittance into these disciplines, the great majority of professors and researchers fulfill the H-1B basic standards.

The “H1B cap” is a numerical limit of 65,000 H1Bs annually. Before applying, employers must ensure that the cap is still open for the current fiscal year. As a result, USCIS had to run the H-1B lottery within weeks of the H-1B cap being reached in the last few years.

Nevertheless, there is a critical exemption to the H-1B Cap that assists many academics and researchers: the foreign national may be excluded from the H-1B Cap if the foreign national will be working at:

  1. A higher education institution or a linked or associated nonprofit entity, or
  2. A nonprofit or government-sponsored research organization

This significant exception permits most professors and researchers to use the H-1B visa category.

O-1 visa for university professors

The O-1 visa category permits foreign persons with “exceptional aptitude” in the sciences, education, commerce, athletics, the arts, film, or television to visit the United States to engage in official activities relating to their field of endeavor.

The qualifying foreign national must have received national or worldwide recognition in the past. Extraordinary talent in science, education, business, or athletics refers to a degree of competence that indicates the individual is among the small fraction of people who have climbed to the very top of their field of endeavor. Extraordinary talent in the arts refers to “distinction” or a level of competence and reputation well above the norm, to the point, that a person regarded as prominent is recognized, leading, or prominent in the arts field.

Professors and researchers must demonstrate “exceptional competence” in science or teaching. To be qualified, the foreign national must possess the following qualifications:

  1. Won a significant, widely recognized honor, like the Nobel Prize; or
  2. At least three of the following types of documentation are required:
    1. Proof of the alien’s receipt of nationally or globally renowned medals or accolades for distinction in their field of expertise;
    2. An evaluation by acknowledged national or worldwide experts that shows the performance in the field of expertise;
    3. Published material in professional or significant trade magazines or major media relevant to the field for specialty, including the title, date, and writer of these published materials, as well as any appropriate translation;
    4. Proof of the foreigner’s involvement on a panel or individually as a judge of the work of others in the same or a related field of specialty;
    5. Proof of the foreigner’s significant original scientific, academic, or commercial contributions in the field;
    6. Proof of the foreigner’s scientific article authorship in the area, professional journals, or other prominent media;
    7. Evidence showing the immigrant has worked in a crucial or critical role for organizations and places with a good reputation;
    8. Documentation that the immigrant has received or will receive a substantial wage or other payment for services, as indicated by contracts or other solid evidence.

If the requirements do not directly apply to the applicants’ profession, the petitioner may present any equivalent evidence to show the beneficiary’s eligibility.

T.N. visa for university professors

Due to the North American Free Trade Agreement, nationals of Canada and Mexico are eligible for the T.N. nonimmigrant visa to work in professional jobs in the United States (NAFTA). Teachers and professors at universities, and researchers in various fields, are eligible to apply.

Canadian and Mexican professors and researchers are permitted to work in the United States under the conditions below:

  • The applicant’s profession is on the NAFTA list.
  • The job position needs a NAFTA professional in the United States.
  • The candidate must be employed full-time or part-time by a US employer.
  • The post requires a Canadian or Mexican citizen to satisfy the essential criteria.
  • The majority, if not all, of the jobs, need a Bachelor’s or Licenciatura Degree. If a baccalaureate degree is necessary, the experience cannot be replaced. Some jobs have different requirements than a bachelor’s degree, while others demand experience in addition to the degree.

T.N. status can be obtained easily for Mexican or Canadian nationals. Still, it cannot be utilized by tenured or tenure-track academics or physicians who are principally engaged in direct patient care.

Infographic How to Immigrate and Work in the US as a University Professor or Lecturer

Green card

The EB-1.2 For “Outstanding Professors And Researchers”

Excellent professors and researchers are acknowledged worldwide for their “outstanding” academic achievements in a particular discipline can apply. To be eligible for an EB-1.2 visa as an ‘excellent professor or researcher,’ you must be a foreign person who meets the following criteria:

  1. Worldwide acknowledged as ‘excellent’ in a particular academic field
    1. Any teaching or research experience acquired while working on an advanced degree will be accepted. However, this experience is only accepted if you have obtained the degree and the teaching responsibilities in classes where you had full responsibility or if your research was recognized as exceptional within the academic field.
    2. Proof of teaching experience or research must be in the form of a letter from a present or previous employer. It must contain the employer’s name, address, title, and detailed explanation of the foreigners’ tasks.
  2. Have at least three years of professional experience in academic teaching or research.
  3. Have a stable job offer from the company and wish to enter the United States for the following reasons:
    1. A tenured job in an academic department in a university or other institution of higher learning; or
    2. A comparable job in a university or higher education institution to undertake research in the field; or
    3. A comparable job to do research in the region with a private employer’s department, division, or institution, if the department, division, or institute employs at least three people full time in research activities and has demonstrated achievements in an academic subject.

Green Card petitions for excellent professors and researchers must be supported by appropriate documentation demonstrating that the professor is globally acknowledged as exceptional in the academic field stated in the petition. This proof must include at least two of the categories below:

  • Evidence of receipt of significant honors or accolades for high academic accomplishment; or
  • Documentation of participation in academic societies that demand extraordinary achievements from its members; or
  • Published content regarding your academic work in professional periodicals published by others. This item must include the title, date, and author, as well as any appropriate translation; or
  • Evidence demonstrating your engagement as a judge of the work of others in the same or a related academic discipline, either independently or on a panel; or
  • Original scientific or intellectual research contributions to the academic discipline; or
  • Proof of your scholarly book or article authorship (in scholarly publications with worldwide distribution) in your academic discipline.

The EB-1.1 For “Aliens With Extraordinary Ability”

Exceptional professors have acquired a degree of skill that indicates they are among the few persons who have risen to the peak of their field of endeavor. Their accomplishments must:

  • Have received sustained national or international recognition
  • Obtain field recognition with thorough documentation

A foreign national professor or researcher may also file an EB-1 Extraordinary Ability petition independently (in other words, they can self-petition).

To be classed as an individual with Extraordinary Ability, a professor must offer verifiable confirmation of a one-time achievement (such as a globally recognized honor such as the Nobel Prize) or at least three of the items below:

  • Documentation of receipt of lesser-known national or international medals or accolades for achievement in one’s field of endeavor; or
  • Documentation of your participation in associations in the subject for which categorization is sought that demand exceptional achievements of its members as determined by acknowledged national or worldwide experts in their disciplines or domains; or
  • Material about yourself that has been published in professional or large trade magazines or other prominent media pertaining to your work in the field for which categorization is desired. Such proof must include the title, date, and author of the content, as well as any appropriate translation; or
  • If you have judged a colleague’s work in the same or a related field of specialization for which classification is sought, or if you have been a panel member;
  • Evidence of your significant original scientific, academic, creative, athletic, or commercial contributions to the subject; or
  • Evidence of your scholarly article authorship in the area, in professional or significant trade periodicals, in other prominent media; or
  • Evidence of your work being displayed in the field at creative exhibitions or showcases; or
  • Evidence that you have served in a leadership or crucial capacity for well-known organizations or facilities; or
  • Evidence showing you have demanded a high wage or other considerably higher payment for your services in comparison to others in the field.

The EB-2 For Professionals With Advanced Degrees or Persons With Exceptional Ability

The EB-2 Employment-Based Green Card category comprises the following:

  1. Foreigners with advanced degrees or equivalents. A Master’s degree or higher, or at least a Bachelor’s degree with 5 years of progressive experience, is required for an advanced degree.
  2. Foreigners with remarkable talent in the sciences, arts, or business. 

Individuals must present verification of three of the following to be categorized as having extraordinary talent in the sciences, arts, or business:

  • A certified academic record demonstrating the alien’s possession of a degree, diploma, certificate, or equivalent award from a college, university, school, or other learning institution in the field of extraordinary aptitude;
  • Letters demonstrating at least 10 years of full-time experience in the desired occupation;
  • A professional license or accreditation for a particular profession or occupation;
  • Evidence showing the foreigner has been paid a wage or other form of payment for services that indicate remarkable aptitude;
  • Professional association membership;
  • Peers, government authorities, and professional or corporate groups must recognize your achievements and significant contributions to the field.

The EB-3 For Skilled or Professional Workers

The Employment-Based Green Card program for skilled workers, professionals, and “other” workers is a category that is not commonly used by professors and researchers but should be considered.

The eligibility requirements for the EB-3 Green Card classification are less rigorous than for EB-1 and EB-2. Nevertheless, an applicant should be aware of the possibility of a significant backlog for visas in the skilled worker, professional, and other workers categories depending on the applicant’s country of birth.

The EB-3 Green Card category comprises the following:

  • Aliens having at least two years of skilled labor experience;
  • Professionals who have earned a baccalaureate degree; and
  • Other employees with less than two years of experience, including unskilled workers capable of performing jobs for which eligible workers are unavailable in the United States
  • Opportunities for skilled workers are not seasonal or temporary, and they need at least two years of experience, education, and training. Relevant post-secondary education may be used to fulfill the training requirement. The application for Labor Certification specifies the employment criteria, which decide if a job is skilled or unskilled.

Professionals must have a bachelor’s degree from the United States or a comparable foreign degree that is generally necessary for the profession. Education and experience cannot be used in place of a degree.

Other employees hold jobs that require less than two years of post-secondary education, training, or experience. Nevertheless, given the significant backlog, a petitioner may have to wait several years before receiving a visa under this category.

Benefits of Hiring Immigrant Faculty to U.S. Colleges and Universities

Most higher education firms choose foreign-born professionals for one primary reason: they want to hire the best individual for the position, irrespective of place of birth. However, here are other compelling reasons to hire foreign teachers.

Ability to hire the most qualified candidate for the job

Because the standard of education at a college or university is mainly determined by its professors, when a higher education employer finds the ideal applicant for a post, they want to know they can recruit them if they are from Kansas or Kazakhstan. Fortunately, U.S. immigration law provides short and long-term visa options for international higher education professionals.

Opening up cultural exchange opportunities

Faculty from various nations contribute unquantifiable diversity in experience, education, and views. Cultural exchange possibilities are so significant that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services developed a visa to facilitate them — the J-1 visa. While the J-1 visa is most often associated with student training, academics can also use it for short-term, non-tenure roles.

Reflecting student body changes

Many schools and universities aggressively recruit international students to establish a varied campus atmosphere, enhance learning environments with cultural views, attract the brightest students, and broaden their recruiting pool. Hiring international professors demonstrates your dedication to developing a welcoming and dynamic campus for all students.

Having well-established work visas for foreign faculty

Even in a highly heated environment where family and business immigration have been exploited as political footballs, higher education immigration paths have mostly remained unaffected. Nonprofit schools and universities can hire on the famed H-1B visa without dealing with the arduous lottery and time constraints of the H-1B quota. In addition, alternative visa and immigration options are available for individuals who can demonstrate exceptional competence in their profession.

Benefits of Immigrating to the U.S. as a College Professor

One of the advantages is its independence in terms of research. When you reach a certain level of seniority, you may pick which projects to work on and which approaches to apply.

Few other careers can compete with this amount of intellectual independence, which is unquestionably one of the benefits of being a professor. Along with freedom comes the thrill of teaching, which can be endlessly exciting with the appropriate group.

The pleasure of teaching is that it frequently involves learning. Engaging young, ambitious kids with learning materials and observing what innovative approaches they adopt when addressing them can be both fascinating and gratifying. Who gets to declare, for example, that the mold inspires the future generation of academics?

Another significant advantage is the flexibility of working hours that academics may provide, which is sometimes more significant than in other professions. For instance, if you are a parent who has to leave the office early to pick up a child from school, workarounds may frequently be discovered, and your job can be tailored to suit your family life.

Sabbaticals are another option. Many experienced professors will plan to take a few months, if not a year, off from their usual teaching obligations to do research in a new university and nation at some time in their careers. Others will go even farther and leave teaching totally to concentrate on a book, for instance, knowing that they can return to their employment once they are finished.

Another aspect of academic life that several professors find extremely fulfilling is student mentoring. They take delight in assisting their students’ career and professional growth.

Lastly, there are several options for traveling on the path to becoming a professor. You can find work worldwide and go to new areas for conferences or research tours. If you appreciate traveling to recent locations and learning about different cultures, languages, and cuisines, working as a professor will provide you with several opportunities to pursue those interests.

The Disadvantages of Immigrating to the U.S. as a College Professor

One of the most challenging aspects of becoming a college professor in the U.S. is that many highly talented academics are fighting for so few professorship positions. Even a gifted and hardworking researcher with substantial publication and teaching experience may struggle to find a permanent professorship.

Because of the low supply and high demand, academics waiting for a professorship sometimes feel obligated to take on a succession of temporary employment contracts from 6 months to a few years. This uneasiness is stressful, and it requires you to be continually on the lookout for and apply for new opportunities. It is not for everyone.

If you are fortunate to land a permanent position as a professor, you must also consider pay. Professors are not underpaid; they often make enough to live a comfortable life and raise a family. Nevertheless, somebody with a professor’s level of competence and experience could make far more money in the private sector.

The final item exacerbates our difficulty on this list: anticipate working long hours as a professor. As previously noted, hours are often flexible, yet academics are still (too) routinely expected to work both in the evenings and on weekends. In certain circumstances, people may find it impossible to use their earned vacation days because there is simply too much work, with deadlines complicating matters further. To stay at the top in your field, you will most likely have to work long hours each week and sacrifice time spent with family, friends, and hobbies.

What are the Challenges in American Classrooms?

  • Foreign-born academics were often reared and schooled in their native countries with beliefs and classroom expectations that differed from ours. As a result, they may have unreasonable expectations of American pupils.
  • Because of their casual nature, foreign-born educators have difficulty adjusting to American classrooms. Professors are revered in nations like India, China, and Korea. The U.S. does not use this technique, and most foreign-born faculty are disappointed by it. Students may stand up as soon as they enter a classroom, waiting for their professors to say, “Please sit down.”
  • Many foreign-born academics had to face significant obstacles to obtain their jobs, so it is reasonable for them to say, “I worked harder and harder to come to the U.S. and become a professor, and you all must study hard, too.” As accurate as this is, such words and attitudes are detrimental to our pupils. Instead, professors and lecturers should be taught how to put themselves in their students’ shoes to comprehend, sympathize with, and assist them.
  • While attending classes, many American students work part-time or full-time. This is also true of students in the California State University system. Many of these students are first-generation college students. Among our non-traditional students are couples with children, veterans returning to college, and students who are married and have children. Some overseas researchers find it difficult to relate to American students, who, on the whole, are earnest and diligent but just have distinct behavioral patterns influenced by their separate cultures and upbringing.

Immigrant Professors’ Salary in the U.S.

The typical full-time college professor, incorporating all teacher kinds and university categories, earned $103,803 in the 2020-21 academic year, per the American Association of University Professor’s information. During the same period, full professors in the United States earned an average of $143,823.

Assistant, associate, and full professors are the three primary ranks for college instructors. Assistant professors are full-time, introductory teachers with a terminal degree who are usually in the early stages of their tenure track. Associate professors are tenured mid-level academics, and full professors are senior-level professors.

Aside from the three conventional levels, adjunct faculty and full-time, non-tenured academics with titles like lecturer or instructor.

Aside from academics’ employment positions, the sort of university they teach at — public, private, independent, or religiously associated — and the degree of education of the students they train can all impact their annual salary.

Average Professor Salary by Institution Type, 2021-22

Job Position

All Institution Types


Private or Independent

Religiously Affiliated






Associate Professor





Assistant Professor















No Rank










At $210,260, the average income for a full professor at a private doctoral institution was the highest of all total earnings. Meanwhile, the average compensation for lecturers at public two-year colleges was $51,771.

Full professors at baccalaureate colleges earn a median of $101,523 at public universities and $126,336 at private universities. This 22% difference shows how much more academics may earn in the private sector.

Are Immigrant University Professors In-Demand in the U.S.?

What about the employment levels for university and college professors’ positions? Based on the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the predicted growth rate for post-secondary instructors in the years 2020-2030 is 13%, which is 4% higher than the national average of 8%.

However, most of this job increase will be in part-time (adjunct) roles rather than full-time ones. This indicates that most professor job opportunities will have the lowest pay and employment stability.

Furthermore, job growth will vary significantly by field (i.e., what you teach). The graph below depicts the median salary and predicted growth rates for several college professorial professions (sorted alphabetically):

It is health that is the fastest-growing field for college professors. In contrast, the areas that are the slowest growing are those in the social sciences, mathematics, atmospheric and earth science, computer science, English language, and literature. These all increase at a slower-than-average rate (less than 5 percent).

The 10 Highest-Paying Fields for College Professors

Here is a list of 10 of the highest-paid fields of employment in relevance to university and college professors(form the lowest to the highest):

Job title


Social sciences teachers


Geography teachers


Chemistry teachers


Environmental science teachers


Anthropology and archaeology teachers


Physics teachers


Political science teachers


Economics teachers


Health specialties teachers


Law teachers



Working in the USA as a university professor and lecturer offers an incredible experience to make money, work as a respective academic, and inspire the younger generation. 

Immigrating to the U.S. as a university professor is not easy and requires many academic degrees and documents from applicants.

Regarding ways to immigrate, foreign national teachers and researchers have multiple feasible visa options, including work visas and green card visas for coming to the United States. They must examine all of them before choosing which visa to seek.

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