How to receive the Green Card for doctors: the definitive guide

green card

A foreign doctor can obtain permanent resident status (or a “Green card”) in the United States.

An employer can apply for permanent residence for a foreign doctor through the job certification process, demonstrating that there are no qualified American doctors to fill the position.

Individual doctors can also apply for permanent resident status through achievement-based options, such as the National Interest Exemption or as someone with extraordinary skills.

If the physician previously entered the United States with J-1 visa status and is subject to the two-year home residence requirement, this requirement must first be satisfied or waived before applying for permanent resident status.

Work certification for doctors

Labor certification requires the sponsoring employer to prove to the US Department of Labor that no qualified American physician is available to do the job.

In the job certification process for obtaining the Green card, an employer is usually required to advertise a job opening for a doctor in national newspapers and / or periodicals.

After reviewing the resumes received and interviewing any candidates who may be eligible for the position, the employer must demonstrate to the Department of Labor that there are no American doctors ready, capable and qualified to perform the job.

The employer submits an application for labor certification to the Department of Labor. Once the application is certified, the employer can then file an I-140 petition with the doctor at USCIS, showing that the position is full-time with no set termination date and that the employer has the ability to pay the salary.

The labor certification process can take a long time.

In California, for example, some labor certifications can take more than three years due to delays in state and federal labor departments.

When and if the PERM program is available, this electronic filing process for job certification applications can greatly speed up the process and make this choice more realistic for doctors and other foreign workers.

Extraordinary Skill Doctors

Doctors who have reached the top of their field may be eligible to file EB-1A petitions as Doctors of Extraordinary Skills.

This category requires the demonstration that the doctor has developed national or international recognition in the area in order to obtain the certificate of permanence (Green Card).

This type of petition requires documentation of significant awards, publications, scientific contributions, judgment of the work of others and / or association with prestigious organizations.

Exemptions of national interest for doctors

Doctors whose jobs are of “national interest” do not need to go through the job certification process.

Generally, doctors can apply for a national interest exemption if they intend to work for at least five years in medically underserved areas or at a Veterans Affairs Department facility. You can search the MUA HHS database on their website.

National interest exemptions do not require a permanent job offer and can be requested by doctors who are independent professionals, rather than “employees” of a United States company or organization.

Application process to obtain the Green Card

A petition for exemption from national interest by a doctor must include the following information:

  • A full-time employment contract (issued and dated within 6 months prior to the date the petition was filed) for the required period of medical clinical practice or a letter of commitment to work from a facility, if the doctor is an employee. If the doctor is to establish his own practice, he must present a sworn statement committing himself to exercising the clinic full time for the required period, and describing the measures the doctor has taken or intends to take to establish the practice;
  • Evidence that the physician will provide full-time clinical service in a medically underserved area and in a medical specialty designation; A letter from a federal agency or state public health department stating that the work of the foreign doctor is or will be in the public interest. These letters should reflect the knowledge of the doctor’s qualifications and describe the agency’s experience and interest in medical matters.
  • Proof of satisfaction or waiver of the J-1 home residence requirement, if the foreign doctor has received medical training in the United States as a J-1 exchange visitor.

Work in disadvantaged area

Once the petition for exemption of national interest is approved, the foreign doctor must fulfill the requirement of working for five years in the medically underserved area. If the physician is already authorized to accept employment (except as a J-1 exchange alien), the beneficiary physician must complete a total of five years of qualified full-time clinical practice within a period of six years from the date of approval of Form I-140.

If the doctor requires a work permit before he or she can legally begin work, the six-year period to complete the five years of qualified full-time clinical practice begins on the date that the USCIS issues the necessary work permit document.

Within 120 days after the second anniversary of the approval of I-140, a physician must provide the following evidence showing completion of at least 12 months of qualified medical service:

  • If the doctor is an employee, the employer must provide a certificate specifying the date the doctor started medical service in the practice or facility area and noting that full-time medical service was provided during the two years. Any interruptions in medical service must be observed.
  • If the doctor establishes a private practice, he must present documents proving the actual establishment of the practice, including the incorporation of the medical practice (if incorporated), business license, commercial tax returns and withholding documents.
  • The doctor’s W-2 forms and the individual federal income tax returns available.

This submission is not necessary if the doctor also has a three-year service obligation under a waiver recommendation J.

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