Physicians and Healthcare Workers
Our law firm provides comprehensive legal services for physicians, nurses, medical technicians, and other healthcare workers. Whether you are already in the United States and looking to change or extend your status or apply for permanent residence, or whether you are abroad and looking to start a new job, we can help you navigate the immigration process.
Immigration Options for Physicians
Immigrant Visas (“Green Card”)
There are a number of ways in which physicians and healthcare workers may become permanent residents. The two most common ways are through National Interest Waiver (for physicians working in an underserved area) or through labor certification (PERM). In some circumstances, physicians may qualify for EB-1 extraordinary ability or as outstanding professors or researchers.
Let us discuss the best options for your situation.
One way for physicians and FMGs to obtain permanent residence without going through the labor certification process is through a National Interest Waiver. These waivers can be sponsored by an employer or applied for by the physician personally. There are a few requirements that must be met for a physician to qualify for a National Interest Waiver. The physician/FMG must practice full-time in a medically underserved area or for the Veteran’s Administration for 5 years (not including any time spent in J-1 status). Medically underserved areas are defined by the Health Resources and Services Administration.
Employers can sponsor their employees for permanent residency, or “green card” through a process called Labor Certification (PERM). The labor certification is a determination by the Department of Labor that there is no qualified, willing and able U.S. worker available to fill the position for which the foreign worker is being sponsored. The labor certification process requires the employer to test the U.S. market through specific recruitment efforts for available U.S. workers. After the PERM is completed, the employer may then file for the foreign worker’s immigrant visa.
Physicians who are doing medical residency or fellowship on J-1 visa and would like to remain in the United States after they complete their training program will require J-1 visa waiver to waiver the two-year foreign-residence requirement. There are several types of J-1 waivers, including state-sponsored Conrad 30, HHS-sponsored waivers, VA-sponsored waivers, hardship or persecution waivers. We have expertise navigating any of these J-1 waiver processes.
We can help determine if you may be eligible for a J-1 Waiver.
The H-1B Visa permits certain persons in specialty occupations to work in the United States for a specific period of time. The H-1B visa is filed by an employer on behalf of a foreign worker. H-1B employees are temporary non-immigrant workers at a professional level or above.
Physicians are generally eligible for H-1B visas if they meet certain criteria, such as licensure, having ECFMG certificate. For physicians who were on J-1 visa and have not spent two years in the country of their last permanent residence, they will also need J-1 waiver before they can apply for H-1B visa.
We have expertise working with hospitals, clinics and other healthcare providers in obtaining H-1B visas for physicians. Please schedule a consultation with us and let our experienced attorneys find the right employment solution for you.
Some physicians may qualify for an O-1 visa, which applies to people with “an extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. O-1 visas are non-immigrant, temporary worker visas where the employer petitions for the non-U.S. worker, and must be able to prove that a valid job offer is being offered to the applicant. O-1 visa can be filed for a physician on J-1 visa without having to obtain J-1 waiver (although in order to immigrate later, a J-1 waiver will be required). It can be used as a bridge between J-1 visa and H-1B visa, especially when J-1 waiver is taking longer to obtain. Family members of successful O-1 applicants can join them on an O-3 visa.
Immigration Options for Healthcare Professionals
Health care professionals have special requirements related to training, licensure and certification requirements. These requirements generally vary by profession and can be quite complex. Our attorneys have represented many hospitals and healthcare providers in obtaining both non-immigrant visa and permanent residence. The health specialties we represent include among others:
Most of these occupations qualify for H-1B visas to work in the United States if they have the appropriate qualifications and documentation. Some occupations require state license to practice in their field. Some occupations require VisaScreen certificate. If you are a Canadian or Mexican citizen, you may also be eligible for TN (NAFTA) visa.
Contact our office to determine requirements and eligibility for your occupation.
Permanent Residence (Immigrant Visa)
Depending on the occupation, permanent residence for health care professionals can be obtained in various ways.
- Nurses, Nurse Practitioners and Physical Therapists are included in the list of “Schedule A” occupations, which means that they can apply for permanent residence through an abbreviated process, skipping the labor certification (PERM) process
- All other occupations must generally apply through labor certification (PERM) process.
- In general, employer needs to sponsor the health care worker for permanent residence.