H-1B Visas

The H-1B visa classification is a temporary non-immigrant visa. It is limited to six years, and it is used by a very broad range of foreign professionals working in the United States, including physicians.

Here are the essential things to know about H-1B visa classification:

  • Time limitation: H-1B temporary worker provisions are limited to six years. It is important to pay attention to how long you have been in H-1B status because that will govern when you need to start permanent residency and when you need to protect yourself if you want to stay long term in the United States.

    However, if you start your case for permanent residency at least one year before your sixth year occurs, then you gain the eligibility to extend the H-1B beyond the six year limit. In particular, for physicians from India and China and possibly other countries, this ability to extend H-1B beyond the six year limit is exceedingly important.

  • Practice obligation: Any J-1 physician who gets a waiver under law is obligated to work for three years specifically in H-1B status at the sponsoring medical practice that got them the waiver. If you do not complete your mandatory years of H-1B service obligation, you will have violated one of the major points of your J-1 waiver, and that will render you susceptible to possible deportation.
  • Credentialing: As a physician, in order to gain H-1B entitlement, you need to fulfill four credentialing requirements:
    1. Have an MD or a license in your foreign jurisdiction
    2. Show that you have English language fluency (which will be established through the ECFMG certificate)
    3. Possess a medical license or an appropriate authorization in order to practice medicine in the jurisdiction in which you will be working
    4. Pass all three steps of the USMLE. (Note: foreign/Canadian physicians cannot establish USMLE equivalency through the LMCC)
  • Visa quotas: H-1B is limited to 65,000 visa numbers per year. The volume of applications substantially exceeds 65,000 and therefore, it can be very important to establish that you are exempted from the quota. There are three situations in which you can be exempted from the H-1B:
    • If your employer is a university
    • If your employer is non-profit and affiliated to a university such as a teaching hospital
    • If you have a J-1 waiver. J-1 waiver physicians are automatically exempted from the H-1B quota

H-1B is a very important visa classification as you undertake your journey from medical training to long term immigration status based on your profession as a physician.

This article is included to inform you, in general, about U.S. immigration law. The information contained herein is not intended to provide solutions to individual problems. Thus, it cannot be relied on as legal advice. We caution you to not attempt to solve individual problems on the basis of this information and advise you to seek competent legal counsel to address your specific issues.

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