Choosing the right path for Physicians


By Margarita E. Hernández

Choosing the right visa for Physicians is not an easy task. It requires a deep evaluation of professional, family, and personal goals.

J-1 Physicians

Physicians often come to the United States as J-1 exchange visitors to receive graduate medical education. However, after the completion of the program, Physicians have restrictions on changing status while in the U.S. to the nonimmigrant categories as H’s (temporary worker), L’s (intracompany transferee) or K’s (fiancé); adjusting status while in the United States; or receive an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

J-1s are aware of the two-year foreign residence requirement when they agree to participate in the programs. Spouses and children of J-1s are subject to this restriction too.

If you are subject to this requirement and would like to change or adjust status, you may be eligible and apply for a Waiver. There are 5 ways to do it: i) No Objection Statement; ii) Request by an Interested U.S. Federal Government Agency; iii) Persecution; iv) Exceptional Hardship to a U.S Citizen or Permanent Resident spouse or child; and v) Request by a designated State Public Health Department (Conrad 30 Program). These waivers are very complicated and Physicians need to contact an experienced immigration attorney to assist them with the process.

The National Interest Waiver (NIW) and the EB-2 category for Physicians.-

EB-2 is a second-preference employment immigrant visa. If a Physician (in compliance with the requirements set by the Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) plans to immigrate to the U.S., he or she can apply directly through the second-preference as a EB-2.

In general, for EB-2’s a job offer and a labor certification are required. However, these requirements may be waived if an EB-2 Physician i) agrees to work full time in a clinical practice for 5 years; ii) works in a primary care or be a specialty physician; iii) serves either in a Health professional Shortage Area, Mental Health Professional Area, a Medically Underserved Area, a Veterans Affairs facility, or for specialists in a Physician Scarcity Area; and iv) obtains an attestation from a federal agency or a state department of health that the physician’s work is in the public interest.

For any questions, please contact Margarita Hernández at 832-464-4852.