H-1B Status for Foreign Medical Graduates
Prior to the 1990 Immigration Act physicians could only come to the USA to take part in graduate medical training by coming in on J-1 status. However, the 1990 Act eliminated this requirement and for a number of years physicians have made use of the H-1B visa to register and participate in fellowship and residency programs.
H-1B Visas and research
If you are a graduate in medicine entering the USA to take part in research or lecture with only limited involvement in patient care you will need to provide proof that you have undertaken sufficient medical training and have a current license for your own country. If there is any patient care involved you will have to possess the relevant license for the state you intend to practice in.
Clinical practice and the H-1B visa
You can gain H-1B status if you want to work in a clinical practice or work in medical training. The requirements are:
Possession of the appropriate state license
You must have been awarded a license that is unrestricted which permits you to practice medicine in your country of origin or you must have graduated from an overseas or medical school in the US.
Every US state requires that physicians have the appropriate license allowing them to practice medicine. This includes physicians who involved in residency or fellowship programs. There are a few states who do not allow physicians to take the USMLE Step 3 exam before taking part in a graduate medical course and in these states the main choice of visa is the J-1.
To obtain an H-1B visa status, physicians must show possession of a state license allowing them to undertake patient care. They must also have an unrestricted license allowing them to practice medicine in an overseas country or they must provide evidence of having graduated from a medical school overseas.
There are a few states that will not offer a license unless evidence of a visa is shown. This obstacle can be overcome by asking for a letter from the relevant state licensing board indicating that the license will be issued if a visa is going to be issued. Usually, the USCIS is satisfied with this letter.
Before a physician can practice in the U.S.A. he or she must have passed one of the following exams:
Physicians from non-English speaking countries have to prove their English competency by passing the ‘Test of English as a Foreign Language’ (TOEFL) examination.
Prominent Physician status
Overseas doctors who have studied at a US medical school and have successfully graduated just need to provide proof of graduation and the relevant state license. Doctors who have built up an international reputation in a specialized medical area but who have graduated from an overseas medical school do not need to follow the normal requirements to qualify for H-1B visa status.
Return to "The H-1B Visa" to learn more.