Temporary Visa Options for Foreign Physicians
There are a number of options available for foreign-born physicians seeking authorization for temporary employment in the United States. The appropriate nonimmigrant visa is dependent upon the type of employment sought. Each visa category also requires specific qualifications and credentials, as discussed below. This list is not exhaustive, but does present the primary visas used.
J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa
The J-1 visa is used for graduate medical education and training. It should be noted that, upon completion of the J-1 stay in the U.S., the alien will be required to return to his home country for a period of at least two years.
2. Requirements for J-1 Visa
Several requirements apply when an alien physician trys to obtain a J-1 visa.
- He/she must provide a written assurance from the home country confirming that there is a need for his/her skills in this country.
- There must be also a written agreement from an accredited school of medicine which will provide the training in the U.S.
- He/she must prove sufficient skills that he/she has already achieved by having
either: graduated from a medical school accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME)
or: passed Parts I and II of the National Board of Medical Examiners examination (or its equivalent) and possess competency in written and oral English ( mostly proved with the ECFMG English test which can be updated by the TOEFL test ).
- The alien physician must already have prior education/licensure abroad.
Compared to the H-1 visa, a spouse ( on a J-2 visa ) of an alien having a J-1 visa may obtain more easily a work permit. Further, there are no social security tax requirements and no labor certification is needed.
H-1 Nonimmigrant Visa
The H-1B visa is also used for non-clinical graduate experience. Compared to the J-1 exchange visitor visa, different requirements have to be fulfilled. Further, an H-1B visa may allow patient care services performed by the alien physician.
2. Requirements for the H-1 Visa
For alien physicians who will primarily be teaching or performing research (with incidential patient care only) the following conditions apply:
- He/she must be licensed in the State of intended employment.
- He/she must be a graduate of a foreign or U.S. medical school, or have a full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in a foreign state.
Additionally, alien physicians intending to perform patient care services must have :
- Either: graduated from a medical school accredited by the LCME
- Or: passed Steps I, II and III of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), and have competency in written and oral English.
Additional Consideration: Timing & Other Obstacles
Obtaining a work visa for a physician can be difficult. Some of the tests & licensing deadlines change and are administered infrequently. Occasionally these changes may result in delays and/or missed residency opportunities. Accordingly, this page merely provides a brief synopsis of the various options. It is not exhaustive, nor can address all the possible obstacles/options.
For in-depth information, contact Capriotti & Associates to schedule an appointment for a telephone consultation.
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