I am a postdoc in Israel (while my passport is Portuguese) and I need to visit the US: while filling out an ESTA (for the first time), I discovered I needed to list any jobs I currently work.

I thought of listing my postdoc, but the visa I got for Israel is a student visa, and when I got it the consulate was very emphatic that I could not work while staying on Israel (however everything was done in an orderly manner: the consulate knew I was going to do a postdoc, the university itself instructed me to get the student visa, so I assume that, in Israel, a postdoc is not considered a job).

I searched for an answer to this question online, but I always find instead answers to the question of how to obtain a visa to be a postdoc in the US, what I am not planning to do: I am only visiting while being a postdoc elsewhere.

So, my question is: should I list my postdoc as a job in my ESTA?


  • Is a postdoc even considered as a job by the US?
  • Could I face any problems in Israel by listing it as a job?
  • And, if I was supposed to list my postdoc as a job but decided not to do it, would my chances of getting my ESTA accepted be reduced?

Update: I had no problems going through security after arriving in the US, it was actually surprisingly smooth. In a few days I will be able to update the question with whether I had problems getting back to Israel.

Update 2: Just for closure, everything went perfectly fine when reentering Israel, listing the postdoc as a job was indeed the correct option.

  • 1
    Are you being paid a salary as a postdoc or is it some form of bursary/scholarship? If it is a salary I would have thought that made it a job whereas bursary/scholarship makes you still in education. However I am not an expert on ESTA.
    – mdewey
    Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 10:29
  • 1
    @mdewey It is a scholarship. Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 10:32
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    For the record, a postdoc is supposed to be a real research job with a salary, pension, taxes, etc. One doesn't get a diploma at the end of a postdoc hence there's no such thing as a 'student postdoc'. It's not a matter of interpreting a postdoc as a job or not: legally any work that somebody does in exchange for money is a job. There are of course real postdoc jobs in Israel (and everywhere else in the world, including the US), so I suspect that this arrangement is not fully legal wrt labor laws and taxes. Whether this will impact your US visa or not is above my pay grade, but at least ...
    – Erwan
    Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 17:02
  • it's important for you to be aware that your situation is not 'standard' (and possibly not legal, but this kind of stuff happens in academia).
    – Erwan
    Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 17:03
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    @Erwan Your comments are pretentious and incorrectly cause OP (and other readers) to be concerned about the legality of their status. "Legally" is determined by the laws of the relevant jurisdiction, and in Israel postdoctoral fellows are legally registered as students, receive non-taxable fellowships (not salaries) and (if not Israeli citizens) are fully expected by law to enter with an A/2 student visa. This is fully legal and standard in Israel, and no one is "turning a blind eye". Of course this does not answer the OP's actual question, but "for the record". Commented May 31, 2023 at 16:53

1 Answer 1


They ask you for your current work environment. I bet you would claim your postdoc time as a job in your future CV, so why do you think you should not mention it? Name it student rather than work, if you have the option.

If you should have mentioned it and did not do it, and it comes out in an interview upon entering the USA, you can be send back and banned for deception. If you did not need to mention it but did, your landing interview might go: "So you now live in Israel." You answer with: "Yes, for a while as a student." And the officer will not find anything wrong. Israel is not on the list of countries which give problems.

Never lie to an immigrant officer, not even in the automated online version.

  • Thanks for the answer, @Willeke ! I know this is probably off-topic, but could listing my postdoc as a job cause problems with the Israeli immigration officers? Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 8:33
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    Israeli immigration officers should not have access to your ESTA list but even when they do they will understand the restrictions of filling out online lists. Claim being a student in Israel if you can, if you can not, fill it out as job.
    – Willeke
    Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 8:35
  • If I receive more upvotes to this question, later on I will upvote your answer; I also will probably accept it, but I will wait at least one more day before doing so. Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 8:38
  • Yes do wait, as I am not a specialist in ESTA as some of the other regulars are.
    – Willeke
    Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 8:42
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    @AnyDisplayName it's perfectly plausible that you might need to report your postdoc as a job to the US even though Israel doesn't consider it a job. On top of that, if you use some red-flag word incorrectly with either Israeli or US authorities, nothing bad is automatically going to happen. If Israel somehow finds out that you reported a job in Israel, they'll come ask you about it, whereupon you can say that you answered the question with reference to your postdoc, and all will be well.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 12:47

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