What is the H-1B Visa for Physicians?
There aren’t too many careers that require as much in-depth specialty knowledge as that of a doctor. Since part of the requirements to work in the US include finding a specialty job opening, it’s rather straightforward for sponsoring employers to get approved for these healthcare openings.
With an H-1B physician visa, the holder can legally work for a sponsoring company for a short period, usually three years. However, you can extend this visa another three years, for a total of six. There isn’t a two-year J-1 Home Residence Requirement (HRR) as there is with a J-1 visa. This makes the H-1B preferable over the J-1 because you won’t have to return home for two years after your J-1 program before you can re-enter the US.
However, the H-1B visa is only eligible for physicians who intend to enter the country to teach, provide direct patient care, or perform research. You must meet strict eligibility requirements to qualify.
How Can You Obtain a Physician H-1B Visa?
There are three pathways to get into the US with an H-1B visa. The first one includes any physician who plans to provide direct patient care. When you fall under this category, you must meet these requirements:
● You have a state license or official state authorization to practice medicine, or you are exempt by law from holding these licenses if the state where you’ll be working does not require a license for direct patient care. (Note: In the US, all states require physicians to have licenses.)
● You have a full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in foreign places, or you’ve graduated from an accredited US medical school.
● You have passed all steps of the USMLE, or you’ve graduated from an accredited US medical school.
● You can demonstrate oral and written English competency through the ECFMH English proficiency test or have graduated from a medical school with a US accreditation.
The second pathway to obtain a Physicians H-1B visa is to enter based on national interest. If your reputation as a physician is nationally or internationally renowned in the field of medicine, you are exempt from the above requirements.
Finally, the third path to entering the US as a physician is through teaching and/or research. In these situations, you may provide direct patient care only as necessary through your teaching or research duties.
If this is your career path, there are multiple visas you’d be eligible to obtain, such as the J-1 visa. However, this visa carries the Home Residence Requirement, whereas the H-1B visa does not.
Is the H-1B Physician Visa Part of the Lottery System?
The one drawback to the H-1B visa for doctors is that most petitions are subject to the US lottery system. Because the H-1B visa is in high demand, there is a cap on how many petitions are approved, which are chosen through random lotteries. In the past, the number of approvals was capped at 85,000 per year.
Since you hold a doctorate, you’ll be in the first lottery petition drawing. During this selection, 20,000 petitions with advanced degrees are chosen. If your petition is not selected in the first round, you are entered into the second one, where 65,000 are approved. This is the only way you get an edge over the other applicants.
Lotteries are not applicable for petitioners who want to transfer to a different employer or those who work for a non-profit organization, a higher education institution, or a government research organization.
What Documents Do You Need for the H-1B Physician Visa?
Although you have the qualifications, you must prove them through documentation. Completing the paperwork for a Physician H-1B visa is a complex job. As you go through each step, you’ll need to provide documentation, and sometimes, it will seem like you’re doing the same thing over and over.
However, if you want your petition to be reviewed without mistakes or delays, sending the correct documentation is a crucial aspect. Prepare your documents early, so they’re ready when you need them. These will include:
● A copy of your med school diploma and official transcripts
● A certificate from the ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates)
● The results that show you passed the USMLE or FLEX exam
● Your valid passport
● Your state medical license or permit
Other possible documents that the USCIS might request include evidence of the company sponsoring your job, proof of your most recent job and income, and documents that show the wages you’ll be receiving.
Should you wish to bring your spouse and dependents with you under your H-1B visa, they’ll need to provide documentation showing their identity to obtain an H4 dependent visa. This entitles them to live in the US and allows children to attend school. If they choose to gain employment, they must apply for authorization.
Which route is best for your physician career? The choice is an important one, and there are benefits and drawbacks to all of them. Visa2US is ready to help you analyze your options and make the right decision.
We’ll work with you to complete all the necessary paperwork and answer your questions from start to finish so that you can avoid time-consuming, expensive mistakes along the way.