Green Card for Physicians
The pandemic has resulted in devastating health crises throughout the world. Amid the panic, healthcare workers have been working day and night but struggling to keep under contro de emergency. To relieve the healthcare industry’s added pressure, lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill to grant 40,000 green card slots to foreign physicians and nurses. This bill is not a law yet, but it shows lawmaker’s interest in bringing the United States health care providers. Foreign national medical doctors that live outside of the US and even the ones already practicing in the US, have different options to obtain a green card. The green card allows them to live and work permanently in the United States and even can apply to become a naturalized US citizen after 5 years. Below we explain a few green card options for physicians to apply for a US permanent residence or green card under the employment based category.
Green Card Options for Physicians
The green card employment based category for physicians is broad since the government is interested in bringing talented professionals to the US, especially bringing medical doctors that can provide a better life for the citizens of the US and fill the country’s needs. The green card options for foreign national medical doctors depend on whether the physician lives outside of the US or if the physician is already working in the US with a nonimmigrant visa. All the green card options allow the physician to bring as green card holders their spouses and children under 21 years old. Below are some pathways physicians can use to obtain a green card for a permanent stay in the US.
Change from Visa to a Green Card for Physicians
Physicians working in the US with a J-1 visa for medical training must go back home to their country to perform a 2-year home residency requirement. In the alternative, they need to request a waiver from the US government to waive this requirement before their green card is approved. The waiver process has specific legal requirements that must be met to be granted. Without an approved waiver, the green card cannot be approved.
Physicians that are in the US through companies who sponsor them via the H-1B nonimmigrant visa that allows them to work in the US, may apply for a green card. The H-1B is a dual intent visa that enables physicians to apply for a green card after. That means that the physician is not required to go back to their home country to apply for a green card. However, the US employer has to sponsor the physician for the green card to be approved.
EB2 – National Interest Waiver
Physicians can work in the US if they have a job offer from a US employer willing to sponsor them. This pathway to permanent residency requires a labor certification from the US Department of Labor. The Department of Labor’s responsibility is to protect the jobs of citizens and residents of the US. The labor certification process is slow and difficult to attain since the employer must prove that proper opportunity was given to US citizens before certifying a job to a foreign national. Fortunately, this process can be waived if the EB2 petitioner can demonstrate that the candidate will benefit the national interest and has exceptional abilities. This is called an EB2 National Interest Waiver. If the EB2 national interest waiver petition is approved, then the physician is free to apply for a green card and obtain US permanent residence.
EB2 – Physician National Interest Waiver
Another option for physicians is the Physician National Interest Waiver. This category is exclusive for medical doctors without exceptional abilities in their filed. In this category, the physician is required to submit a statement to the US government as a commitment to serve in an underserved area anywhere in the US for 5 years via an employment contract or independent practice.
Once the 5-year service is complete, the physician can apply to the USCIS within 120 days for the green card. The USCIS will verify that they have completed their service and that the applicant complies will all the other legal requirements. USCIS will schedule the physician for an adjustment of status interview, and if the documentation checks off, the physician will be granted permanent residency in the US.
Foreign Labor Certification
If no physicians are available in the US for a specific job, a US employer can submit a labor certification for a foreign physician. The labor certification is granted by the Department of Labor as explained above, which will certify that no qualified US workers are available to fill the position.
After approval, the employer submits the Form I-140 petition to USCIS, giving the employee a path towards residency via an employment-based preference category. If the physician is in the US with a nonimmigrant visa, they can apply for a green card through Form I-485 concurrent to the I-140 petition if the is numeric visa is available for the category. Otherwise, the physician must maintain their nonimmigrant status until the immigrant visa is current. If the physician lives outside of the US, they can apply for the immigrant visa through the Department of State via a Consular Process, after which the green card will be approved at the US Embassy abroad.
We highly recommend seeking the help of an immigration lawyer to analyze your specific situation. At Terra Immigration, we have helped individuals from all over the world receive their visas and green cards. It is essential that you work with a professional that can give you an honest assessment as well as help you achieve your objectives. If you have any questions, you can speak to Attorney Ileana Rivera or Ingrid Perez. Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 407-818-1244.