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Visa Options for Healthcare Workers

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on August 20, 2014

The healthcare industry is one of the biggest industries in the U.S., employing both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals. Depending on your role in the healthcare industry, the following visa options may be available:

  • H-1B visa: Doctors, physical therapists, and other healthcare workers may qualify for the H-1B visa if the following requirements are met:
    • The applicant’s job position requires a bachelor’s or higher degree;
    • The applicant possesses at least a bachelor’s degree or its U.S. equivalent, or  a combination of education and marketing experience equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree; and
    • The wage offered to the applicant is at least the prevailing wage, or the actual wage paid to other marketing professionals similarly employed, whichever is higher.

The H-1B visa is subject to very strict quote limitations, however.

  • Schedule A: Nurses and physical therapists have been designated as shortage occupations by the Department of Labor, which means that employers are not subject to labor certification requirements and the foreign national may be able to obtain a visa more expeditiously.  To qualify for a Schedule A visa, the foreign national nurse must possess a diploma in nursing and a nursing license from his or her home country. Nursing from foreign countries must either possess a license in the state of intended employment in the U.S. or have completed the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing School’s certification program.
  • O visa: Doctors or healthcare employees with extraordinary ability in sciences or other areas may qualify for an O visa. In order to qualify for an O visa, the foreign national must be considered at the top of their field. Specifically, the foreign national’s “extraordinary ability” must be proved by providing evidence either of the beneficiary’s receipt of a “major, internationally recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize,” or documentation of at least three of the following:
    • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes/awards for excellence in the field;
    • Membership in associations in the field that require outstanding achievement of their members, as judged by recognized national experts;
    • Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the alien;
    • Participation on a panel or as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specialization;
    • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance;
    • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media;
    • Current or previous employment in critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation; or
    • Past or proffered high salary or other remuneration for services, evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

Moreover, the O visa applicant is only permitted to work in the U.S. in his or her area of expertise. Foreign nationals are not allowed to seek an O visa; rather, the potential U.S. employer must petition for the O visa on his or her behalf.

  • J visa: The Conrad 30 Waiver program allows J-1 medical doctors to apply for a waiver for the 2-year residence requirement upon completion of the J-1 exchange visitor program. In order to qualify, the J-1 medical doctor must::
    • Agree to be employed full-time in H-1B nonimmigrant status at a health care facility located in an area designated by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), Medically Underserved Area (MUA), or Medically Underserved Population (MUP);
    • Obtain a contract from the health care facility located in an area designated by HHS as a HPSA, MUA, or MUP;
    • Obtain a “no objection” letter from his or her home country if the home government funded his or her exchange program; and
    • Agree to begin employment at the health care facility within 90 days of receipt of the waiver, not the date his or her J-1 visa expires.

Contact an Employment Immigration Attorney

The U.S. immigration lawyers at the Shapiro Law Group focus on helping foreign nationals in a variety of industries, including the healthcare industry, obtain necessary visas and immigration documents to enter the U.S. Not only do we help foreign nationals and businesses obtain the necessary work visas for employment in the U.S., but we also help clients obtain the appropriate visas for the employee’s spouse and children, as well.

If you would like more information about visa options for healthcare workers and their families, contact us at (847)564-0712 to speak with our experienced U.S. immigration attorney.