H-1B options for physicians
There are two paths that allow physicians to enter the U.S. on an H-1B visa, or change status to H-1B, to practice medicine or take up a medical residency. The first option requires an invitation to the prospective employee from a public or nonprofit private educational or research institution or agency in the U.S. to teach, conduct research, or both. The teaching and/or research position may involve direct patient care, but only incidentally. The second and more common option is an H-1B for clinical medicine.
In both cases, the foreign physician must have passed Steps 1, 2 and 3 of the USMLE and have demonstrated English language competency. The person must have a license to practice medicine from a foreign state, or have graduated from a medical school in the U.S. or a foreign country. As with all H-1Bs, the beneficiary’s employer must submit proof that a Labor Condition Application (LCA) has been filed with the Department of Labor (DOL), in addition to all the other required evidence.
If the position to be occupied by the H-1B involves any direct patient care, the foreign physician must have a license or other authorization to practice medicine in the state of intended residence. In the case of a person who wishes to take up his or her H-1B position before completing the licensing process, his or her employer may apply for a 1-year H-1B approval to allow the beneficiary to obtain the license.
A physician who graduated from a U.S. medical school is not required to take the USMLE or demonstrate English language proficiency. Such a person will automatically count against the 20,000 “Masters cap” for H-1Bs instead of the “general cap”. Those who graduated from a foreign medical school may also be counted against the “Masters cap” if their education is equivalent to a degree from a U.S. medical school.
Physicians changing status from J-1 to H-1B after obtaining a J-1 waiver of the two-year home country residence requirement are cap exempt. For more information about change of status to H-1B for foreign medical graduates currently in the U.S. as J-1 trainees, please see J-1 Physician Waiver).