US Visa Options for Doctors
Doctors often travel to the US to further their careers and require proper status to do so. There are many visa options for doctors and Silver Immigration is here to walk you through the various visas that should be considered.
Medical interns and residents can enter the US as “exchange visitors” to gain experience, study or do research. This is a good option for doctors who want to do their fellowship or residency in the US. J-1 applicants need to be sponsored by a host-organization. For more information about the J-1 program for physicians, visit the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates website here: https://www.ecfmg.org/evsp/applicants.html
Doctors with an entrepreneurial spirit should consider the E-2 option. The E-2 visa is for nationals of a treaty country who have made a substantial investment in the US and are seeking entry to direct and develop that investment. A doctor who is investing in an existing medical practice or establishing a new one may be eligible for an E-2 if a sufficient amount of funds has been invested. To meet the substantiality threshold, the amount of funds invested must be more than what is necessary for the applicant to make a living.
If the applicant is either a Canadian or Mexican national, the TN may be the right fit. Within the TN category, there are several sub-categories for medical professionals.
- Medical Laboratory Technologist/Medical Technologist
- Occupational Therapist
- Physician (teaching or research only). Cannot engage primarily in clinical, or direct, patient care
- Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist
- Recreational Therapist
- Registered nurse
Initial TN’s can be secured for a three-year period and relative to the other options, it is a fast process.
Doctors can also secure an H-1B to practice medicine in the US. For a doctor to secure an H-1B, it must be shown that:
- The doctor has passed the Federation Licensing Examination (or an equivalent examination) or is a graduate of a United States medical school; and
- Has competency in oral and written English; or
- Is a graduate of an accredited school of medicine.
The above requirements do not apply if the foreign medical school graduate is of national or international renown. Graduates of foreign medical schools coming into the US cannot secure H-2B status to perform services as a member of the medical profession.
Doctors with an extraordinary ability in science are able to secure an O-1A. The doctor must be one of the small percentage who have arisen to the very top of his or her field to be eligible for an O-1A. Awards, memberships of associations, peer reviewed scholarly articles and participation on panels will all help establish an applicant’s acclaim and recognition.
Each of the above options comes with its own benefits and restrictions, applicants should seek legal counsel for further guidance.