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Funding Opportunities for International Postdoctoral Scholars
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Camile Castilho Fontelles


International currency

Many postdoctoral scholars aim to obtain funding to start their own research. However, this task can be particularly challenging for non-U.S. citizens, since several grant opportunities have some citizenship requirements. With that in mind, we compiled a list of resources and grants that any international postdoc can use to find the perfect funding opportunity.




The NPA created a directory of funding opportunities available for non-U.S. citizens. This directory has the specific funding agency name, what fellowship opportunity is being granted to international postdocs, their website, citizenship requirements, and other relevant details. In addition, the International Postdoc Survival Guide discusses topics including funding, as well as visa information, legal tips, guide to income taxation, and much more.


Screenshot of international grants through



Grants.Gov is a website managed by the Department of Health and Human Services and centralizes more than 1,000 different grant programs across federal granting agencies awarding more than 500 billion dollars annually. Even though several grants listed on Grants.Gov have some citizenship requirement, the website allows you to search for grants that are not restricted to United States citizens.


To do this, select “search grants” and look to the left side to find search filters. Using these filters, select the “Eligibility,” and then the option “Unrestricted” (which is defined as open to any type of entity above). Be careful to watch for any clarification in text field entitled “Additional Information on Eligibility (275).” This is a good starting point for finding the best funding opportunity within any area of expertise. For instance, the United States Department of Defense is one federal agency that has grants opportunities for international postdocs within several research fields.




Most grants from the NIH are restricted to United States citizens; however, international postdocs can apply to the K99/R00 grant. This highly competitive grant is designed for anyone with a research or clinical doctoral degree, and with no more than four years of postdoctoral research experience. Under some circumstances it is possible to apply for an extension to this time frame.


This grant includes one to two years of mentored research followed by three years of independent research. This award was designed to facilitate the transition from mentored research into an independent research position. The total cost cap for the mentored research phase is $90,000/year, while the total cost cap for the independent phase has a limit of $249,000/year.




The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has an international fellowship program that provides support for women who are conducting research in the United States, but who are not United States citizens. The grant lasts one year and gives a total of $30,000 for award recipients. This financial award is only able to be used for educational expenses, living expenses, dependent child care, and travel to meetings, conferences, or seminars.


Screenshot of international grants through AACR



For those whose expertise is related to cancer research, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) website could be another great resource. Similar to Grants.Gov, this website allows users to selectively search for grants that do not require United States citizenship. To do this, enter the AACR website and select the “Funding” tab. Scrolling down through the options provided reveals the “Search Funding Opportunities” button. Selecting this option opens additional filters, including “Geographic Eligibility,” which has two options: “United States Only” and “United States and International.” Selecting the latter option provides a list of great funding opportunities varying from one to three years with different total cost caps.


Likewise, specific society or foundation website may also have any funding opportunities that do not require United States citizenship. For instance, for cancer research another option is to consider associations dedicated to specific cancer types, such as Susan Komen and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC). Other examples of societies that provide grant opportunities for specific types of research include: American Society of Diabetes, American Epilepsy Society, America Foundation for AIDS Research, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, and National Hemophilia Foundation.


Do not let visa status get in the way of doing amazing research and contributing to the expansion of scientific knowledge that this world so desperately needs.


Beyond Biomedical and Life Sciences:


While many grants are focused on biomedical advances, there are opportunities outside of these areas. For instance, the National Science Foundation provides a grant system for international students in science and engineering. In addition, individual institutions may offer funding for humanities students. Berkeley has compiled an excellent list of some of these opportunities. While not all of these may be accessible to international postdocs, it is worth investigating each opportunity to determine whether it fits your needs and qualifications.


Though several grant opportunities are designated solely for United States citizens, a growing number of opportunities are available for international postdocs. Therefore, do not let visa status get in the way of doing amazing research and contributing to the expansion of scientific knowledge that this world so desperately needs. Now, it is only a matter of starting to write. Good luck!


Camile Castilho Fontelles, PhD, is an associate editor for the NPA and a postdoctoral fellow at Georgetown University, where she studies ancestral exposures and breast cancer. She has a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Federal University of Sao Paulo (UNIFESP) and a PhD in sciences from University of Sao Paulo (USP). Born in Brazil, she is a bookworm and is passionate about science communication and sharing her knowledge.


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