Stanford University
Postdoctoral Scholars

July 2010

BISNET Changes and the new ClearBenefits Transition

Hi All,

As you know, BISNet will be moving to a new platform handled by ClearBenefits. Please read this carefully as this will affect all of the administrators that use the system.


First and foremost, I think it would be prudent to give ClearBenefits a shorter name. I’ve spent some time thinking about this, and while I really liked the creativity behind CleBen (pronounced klee-ben), I just don’t think it would stick. Thus, from here on out, we can refer to it simply as “CB”.

Website Address Change

ClearBenefits is currently housing the old BISNet system on their site, so you can begin using the new web address now: Be sure to keep this one bookmarked.

Black-Out Dates

The new ClearBenefits system will go live Wednesday, September 1st, 2010. There will be a blackout period prior to this date while the information from the old system is moved to the new system. During this time, OPA, admins, and postdocs will not be able to login at all. Please note the following dates:

August 1st-August 13th: BISNet will be fully active on both the front-end (postdoc enrollment) and the back-end (PTA Management). During this time, all approved August appointments will be entered into BISNet by Jaclyn.
August 14th-August 20th: The BISNet front end will be locked, but the back end will be available. This means that no new postdocs can be entered, no new elections can be made, no changes to enrollment can be made, and no postdocs can be terminated. This is ClearBenefits’ rule. The PTA screens and functionality, however, will remain open through August 20th in order to facilitate the entering of PTAs.
August 21st-August 31st: Both the BISNet front-end and back-end will be locked. No administrator can log in to change or add PTAs. (Not even me!!!)

What This Means For You

EXPECT NEW LOGINS!!! I will send out more information regarding How-To’s in a separate email.
It would be a good idea to get all of your August termination forms in prior to the August 13th front-end blackout period.
Since all additions and changes will be done by August 13th, you can login any time between August 16th-August 20th and enter or change your PTAs without the worry that a new postdoc will added after you’ve done your piece.
Feel free to encourage your new postdocs to make their elections early! They will not be able to log in after August 13th which means that they would need to wait until CB is reopened in September for their information to be fed over to the carriers.


I’ve taken a look at the test system, and while the aesthetics will be changing, there’s not much difference in the way of functionality on the PTA Management end. The navigation will change slightly, and I can provide screenshots, but I think it will be self-explanatory enough without a training session. For those of you who will be brand new to postdoc insurance and have never received training (or would like a refresher), thanks for your patience—I will be setting up a full training class when the new system goes live. Keep an eye out for that email as well.



Shannon Monahan
Reporting and Finance Analyst

Office of Postdoctoral Affairs
1215 Welch Road

Modular A, Room 85

MC: 5402

University policy regarding Stanford sponsorships of H-1B visas for postdoctoral research scholars

Memo sent to supdssworkinggroup; postdoc_advisors; postdoc_advisors_som on July 1, 2010

TO: Faculty Members and Postdoctoral Administrators
FROM: Rania Sanford, Assistant Dean, Postdoctoral Affairs
John Pearson, Director, Bechtel International Center
RE: University policy regarding Stanford sponsorships of H-1B visas for postdoctoral research scholars

This memo is to confirm and clarify the policy concerning appropriate immigration classifications for Postdoctoral Scholars at Stanford. More than half of 1800 postdoctoral scholars at the University are foreign nationals. Since postdocs at Stanford are advanced non-matriculating students in training positions, the University, like other institutions that classify postdocs as student trainees, sponsors these individuals on J-1 visas that allow them to remain in their programs for up to 5 years. Stanford’s policy continues to be to use the J-1 visa as the appropriate visa for postdocs.

In recent years, we have seen an increase in the number of H-1B visa requests for postdocs. These requests have come both from faculty and the postdocs. This increase is of concern because H-1B sponsorship implies an employer/employee relationship, and postdocs are not considered staff employees. In addition, H-1B sponsorship has academic implications for the preparation of postdocs for research careers as it prohibits the postdoc from submitting applications for fellowships at Stanford or with other agencies/foundations/governments or receiving a stipend. Additionally, H-1B applications that are submitted by the university are also accompanied by a number of attestations which entail ongoing compliance requirements.

In light of such complexity, and after careful and lengthy review and deliberations by the Advisory Committee on Postdoctoral Affairs, the Provost has approved an articulation of a policy and procedure with respect to H-1B visa sponsorship for foreign postdoctoral research scholars.

As of July 1, 2010, all Stanford postdocs who are foreign nationals will be expected to come to Stanford in J-1 status. Only in compelling circumstances or after prior review and approval by the H-1B Review Board, a standing committee of senior school and university officers, will H-1B sponsorship be considered for a postdoc. Circumstances that may warrant H-1B sponsorship from Stanford are:

  1. The postdoc scholar is already in valid H-1B status.
  2. The postdoc scholar has a pending US permanent residence application as evidenced by the I-485 document.
  3. The postdoc is married to a US citizen or US permanent resident.
  4. The postdoc received his/her PhDs or equivalent degree in the US on an F-1 visa and is currently in the US completing the sixth month of Optional Practical Training at Stanford or elsewhere.
If these conditions are not met, the department may petition for H-1B sponsorship by explaining the programmatic need and providing appropriate documentation to the H-1B Review Board, which includes:
  1. H-1B Visa Request and Petition Form for Postdoctoral Scholars
  2. Letter from the faculty member describing the rationale for the petition, including anticipated impact on the research project if the candidate is not sponsored in H-1B status
  3. Summary of postdoctoral position announcement and location and duration of postings
  4. Description of applicant pool with supporting documentation of the absence of other candidates suitable for this position
  5. Evidence of the selected postdoc’s unique qualifications

If a postdoc is approved for H-1B sponsorship, the H-1B application must be submitted to the Bechtel International Center. The University will no longer permit the use of outside attorneys for H-1B sponsorship. In effect, all new H-1B applications for Stanford University will now be processed through Bechtel.

The department is required to pay an associated processing fee of $900 for any postdoc H-1B applications, except in cases when the postdoc is

  1. already in valid H-1B status,

  2. has a pending permanent resident application, or

  3. is married to a US citizen or permanent resident.

The Standing H-1B Review Board will meet on a schedule that is announced on the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs website: Faculty mentors may also want to refer to the table summarizing the pros and cons of J-1 vs.H-1B visa categories for foreign scholars on the Bechtel International Center website.

The university policy on H-1B (and other employment visas) for postdocs is posted in the Research Policy Handbook, 9.4B Attachment.

Detailed implementation guidelines for department administrators to submit H-1B requests or petitions are posted online at
Questions regarding this policy may be directed to one of us at or

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