Call (888) 936-3228 to Speak to an Immigration Lawyer in Coral Springs
If you are an international medical graduate seeking entry into an American Graduate Medical Education (GME) program, you must obtain a visa that allows you to undergo clinical training to provide medical services. One visa may be more suitable for you, depending on your long-term goals and the nature of your ties in the United States.
At Guerra Sáenz, PL, we understand the ins and outs of American immigration laws, and we can help you get the visa you need in order to participate in the GME program of your choice. Connect with our Coral Springs immigration attorney (who is himself and immigrant) and learn more about how our firm can help you navigate the visa application process with ease.
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Visa Types Available for International Medical Graduates
The J-1 visa is the most common visa provided for international medical graduates who wish to enroll in GME programs in the United States. In order to obtain a J-1 visa, you must become officially sponsored by the Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) OR do all of the following:
- - Pass Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) and Step 2 CK (Clinical Knowledge), or the equivalent thereof.
- - Obtain a valid ECFMG certification.
- - Provide an official offer letter or copy of your contract with a particular GME program at an American medical school.
- - Provide an official statement of need from the Ministry of Health in the country where you most recently held legal permanent residence (regardless of whether you were/are a citizen of that country).
If you obtain a J-1 visa, you will be required to return to your country of origin for two years upon completion of your program. You must meet this requirement in order to be considered for future visas permitting you to work or live in the United States, including all H, L, and all other U.S. visas.
However, there are some exceptions to this requirement. You may be able to obtain a J-1 waiver and avoid the two-year residency requirement if you are able to demonstrate any of the following:
- You face legitimate risk of suffering persecution upon returning to your home country or country of residence.
- You have a spouse and children who are U.S. residents or naturalized citizens, and they would suffer significant hardship if you returned to your home country for two years.
- You are being sponsored by a government agency that has requested that you continue living and working in the U.S., such as the Departments of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, etc.
After you have obtained a J-1 visa waiver or completed the two-year residency requirement, you may be able to gain a new visa allowing you to work and live in the United States.
An H-1B visa is also an option, and it does not carry a two-year residency requirement. It allows medical graduates to live and work in the United States for a maximum of six years. You may be able to obtain an H-1B visa if ALL of the following are true:
- - You hold the medical license required by the state in which you hope to enroll in a GME program.
- - You have successfully passed all the required exams.
- - You hold an unrestricted medical license to practice OR you are a graduate of a recognized foreign or American medical school.
Immigrant Visa/Green Card
International medical graduates seeking to participate in American GME programs may also be eligible for immigrant visas (aka “green cards”), which allow non-citizens to permanently live and work in the United States. Green card-holders have the opportunity to become citizens after residing in the United States for at least 3 years, making it an appealing option for GME program participants who wish to live and work in the U.S. long-term.
In order to receive an immigrant visa, you must be:
- - An immediate family member of an American citizen or other lawful permanent resident
- - An employee being sponsored by a prospective employer in the United States
- - Selected in a visa lottery program as a diversity immigrant
Regardless of the type of visa you feel may be best, you’ll need help to make it happen—and we are here to help. Call (888) 936-3228 to schedule a meeting with our Coral Springs immigration attorney.