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Foreign-born physicians may work in the United States if they have either 1) a temporary working permit or 2) permanent residence status.
H-1B status for Physicians
There are two situations in which a foreign-born physician can obtain temporary working (H1-B) status in the United States: (1) If they have been invited to teach or do research at a public or nonprofit private education or research institution in the United States; or (2) if they have been offered a job performing direct patient care as a physician in the United States.
Foreign-born physicians performing direct patient care in the United States must conform to a series of standards as established by the petitioning employer. First, they must pass the Federation Licensing Examination (FLEX) as well as an English proficiency test given by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. However, if the applicant is a graduate of a medical school accredited by the U.S. Department of Education, this language proficiency exam is not required. Additionally, these physician applicants must have the authorization required by the state of intended employment to practice medicine. Finally, they also need either to have graduated from medical school in the United States or abroad or have full and unrestricted license to practice medicine abroad.
The requirement that the applicants providing direct patient care be authorized through the state implicitly limits the number of graduates from medical schools abroad, except Canada, admitted into the United States on H-1B visas. State licensing requires physicians to have completed medical residencies in the United States, though it is possible that these residencies can be completed if the applicant first enters the country as a nonimmigrant exchange visitor (J-1 status). There is a 2-year home residency requirement for applicants entering under J-1 status, so that foreign-born applicants must return to their country of origin for two years after having completed their residencies in the United States. This requirement can be waived under certain circumstances.
O nonimmigrant visas may also be approved for physicians who are extraordinary in their fields. The O visa is especially useful for qualified aliens who cannot receive H-1B visas due to the two-year home residency requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and have not yet received a J waiver.
Permanent Residence for Physicians
Outside of obtaining H1-B status, a foreign-born physician may practice in the United States with permanent resident status. In this case, the applicants are usually classified as professionals holding advanced degrees in the employment-based second preference category. The usual way that a physician applicant obtains permanent residence though employment is the employer establishes through the labor certification process that it is unable to locate a United States physician to fill the applicant’s prospective full-time position. In this case, the employer need not require that an applicant have passed the FLEX or have obtained a state medical license. May Law Group, LLC, has also successfully filed national interest waiver and alien of extraordinary ability petitions for physicians who qualify due to their work serving the national interest of the United States or the fact that they are outstanding or extraordinary in their field. While PERM labor certifications are the most common method for United States employers to sponsor needed foreign physicians, national interest waivers in the employment-based second preference category and the extraordinary ability category in the employment-based first preference category should also be considered.
Contact an Immigration Lawyer in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New York
To speak to an immigration attorney about your immigration goals, including obtaining a work visa in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, Virginia or anywhere in the United States, we welcome you to contact us online or call 412-291-4400 | 215-880-4977 | 347-839-1700 . Free consultations are available. We represent clients throughout the United States, including Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio, Allegheny County, Philadelphia County and worldwide in Korea, Africa, India, and Pakistan.