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About Immigration & Visas

J-1 Visa

A J-1 visa is issued to applicants who have been accepted to participate in exchange visitor programs, designated by the United States Information Agency ("USIA"). This may include students, scholars, trainees, teachers, professors, specialists, foreign medical graduates, international visitors, government visitors, camp counselors, au pairs, and participants in summer travel/work programs.

Foreign Medical Graduates: A foreign medical graduate is defined as any alien who graduated from medical school either in or outside the United States. Foreign medical graduates may come to the United States as exchange visitors for the purposes of observation, consultation, teaching, or research. To be eligible foreign medical graduates must meet the following requirements:

  1. The school that is offering the medical education or training must be accredited by a body, or bodies, approved for this purpose by the Secretary of Education and must agree in writing to assume responsibility for the alien's education or training. Any participating hospital must join in the agreement.

  2. Before making this agreement, the school must be satisfied that the alien is a graduate of a school of medicine that is accredited by a body or bodies approved for this purpose by the Secretary of Education or that the alien has passed Parts I and II of the National Board of Medical Examiners examination, is competent in oral and written English, is adaptable to the educational and cultural environment at the place of study or training, and has adequate education and training.

  3. The alien must have made a commitment to return to his or her home country upon completion of his or her exchange visitor graduate medical education or training, and that country must have provided a written assurance in precise language that there is a need in that country for persons with the skill acquired by the alien through education or training in the United States.

  4. The alien must furnish the Attorney General each year with an affidavit that the alien is in good standing in the graduate program and will return to his or her home country when it is completed.
How Long Is The J-1 Visa Valid?

Foreign medical graduates: length of program, up to a maximum of seven years. Extensions of stay are allowable only up to the maximum allowable period of stay for each category.

J-1 Waivers

Foreign medical graduates who have an offer of full-time employment at a health care facility in a designeated health care professional shortage area, and who agree to begin employment at the facility within 90 days of received a waiver, and who sign a contract to continue work at the health care facility for a total of forty hours per week and not less than three years, may apply for a waiver.

H-1B Visas

The U.S. H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows a U.S. company to employ a foreign individual for up to six years. Employers, and not the individual themselves, petition for entry of the employee. These visas are subject to annual numerical limits.

The H-1B visa is used for specialty occupations which require a high degree of specialized knowledge --- such as physicians. The initial visa may be granted for up to three years and extended up to a maximum of six years. Those individuals wishing to remain in the U. S. for more than six years may apply for permanent residence --- also known as a "green card."

O-1 Visa

The O-1 Visa is for physicians and scientists, clinicians and researchers with superior qualifications and extraordinary ability. It is also a visa which provides a great deal of flexibility for those with a two-year home residency requirement.

The regulations define extraordinary ability as "a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor." The alien must have "sustained national or international acclaim."

The O-1 is available to J-1 visa holders and does not require a waiver. The O-1 is not a waiver, however. A waiver or fulfillment of the 2-year home residency is required for a "green card."

The two year home requirement can be satisfied incrementally over a number of years.

The O-1 can be initially obtained for up to three years and extended indefinitely.

The O-1 requires a job offer and an employer. The employer can be a hospital, research institution or private practice and need not be located in a shortage area.

The O-1 is available to physicians in all specialties.

Practice Opportunities for Visa Holders

Our firm rarely has job orders in the Pacific Northwest where J-1 or H-1B visa holders can be considered. Most of our recruitment is not conducted in shortage areas.

To inquire about practice opportunities in shortage areas, please contact the Office of Rural Health in Portland, Oregon at 503-494-4450


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