Immigrant physicians have received green cards to work in the United States for the past decade, sometimes as a means to eventually apply for naturalization and file their N-400 application. The arrangement works by placing a foreign doctor in an underserved community or to help improve a shortage in a certain hospital or region that needs a specialist. It presents a way for foreign physicians to come to the United States, practice medicine, while also residing in the U.S. lawfully and providing critical services. Granting a foreign doctor an immigrant visa is also part and parcel of the INA Section 101a.

This type of adjustment of status is less common, but for those who would like to know more information about this process and the eligibility requirements, will need to locate Volume 7 of the USCIS policy manual. The link is available here. 


In order to be eligible for this type of adjustment of status, the foreign doctor, who is placed in the category of “Special Immigrant” under USCIS protocol, will need to be inspected and admitted, or inspected and paroled in the United States.

Special immigrants are individuals who may be eligible for lawful permanent resident status based on specific visa categories that are listed in the INA. Eligibility depends on the requirements for each visa category.

For foreign doctors, such immigrants will need to be sponsored by a medical institution or hospital who will effectively be their employer when they come to the United States. Employers thus need to fill out the Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant on their new employee's behalf.

These are the conditions upon which a foreign doctor will then be eligible for an immigrant visa, in which case they can then travel to the United States, or as mentioned earlier, concurrently file an I-485 application. The following requirements are needed, or at least one or them, in order to be eligible for the immigrant visa:

1.     Having graduated from a foreign medical school or received licensure as a practicing physician in a foreign country

2.     Have received full and permanent licensure to practice medicine in a U.S. state on January 9, 1978, or prior to such date

3.     Had been admitted to the United States before January 10, 1978, as a J or H nonimmigrant.

Once an immigrant has secured an EB-4 visa (employment-based 4th preference), they will be subject to the same rules and eligibility requirements for an adjustment of status. For example, the applicant must not be subject to any bars to an adjustment of status, the applicant must otherwise be admissible (based on standard admissibility requirements for I-485 applicants), and the applicant merits the favorable exercise of discretion.

While it is possible to file concurrently, it is common for most visa holders to come to the United States before beginning the lengthy I-485 process.

Immigrant physicians Naturalization N-400 Physicians