Employers seeking to hire physicians and other health care workers, such as nurses and physical therapists, face a maze-like process when attempting to clear the many hurdles of the immigrant visa sponsorship process. The attorneys at Landau, Hess, Simon, Choi & Doebley are well versed with representing health care employers in both the non-immigrant temporary visa and the immigrant visa processes for employees in the health care field. We are very knowledgeable about J-1 waivers, licensure requirements, qualifications for EB1 Extraordinary Ability and EB2 National Interest waivers, and the fast track Schedule A permanent residence process for nurses and physical therapists.
Employers wishing to hire physicians who received medical training in the United States are often faced with the seemingly daunting obstacle of the J-1 foreign residency requirement. By way of background, physicians who received foreign medical graduate training in J-1 exchange visitor status are automatically subject to Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) section 212(e), which requires certain exchange visitors to return to their home country or country of last residence upon completion of their U.S. training before they may apply for permanent resident status. Through sponsorship by an employer, an international medical graduate may be able to obtain a waiver of this requirement with the recommendation of a state or federal agency interested in facilitating the physician’s employment in a federally designated medically underserved area. For the waiver with a state agency, known as the Conrad 30 J-1 waiver, an interested state department of public health or its equivalent may recommend up to 30 waivers per government fiscal year for foreign national physicians who agrees to accept full-time employment at a health facility or health care organization as a primary care physician or in certain specialties for a period of at least three years and starting within 90 days of receiving the waiver. Timing is therefore of the essence with the J-1 waiver process as the physician cannot start working for the health facility or health care organization until the subsequently filed H-1B nonimmigrant visa petition is filed and approved on behalf of the foreign physician.