H-1B Visa for Doctors

The H-1B visa for Foreign Doctors


There is a special class of H-1B visas that govern the applications for foreign doctors to be allowed to enter, live and work in the United States. The following are the procedures in obtaining such a visa.


Before the enactment of the Immigration Act of 1990, the manner in which physicians or doctors are allowed to enter the United States is through the J-1 visa. This requirement though has been removed with the Immigration Act of 1990 and they have been covered under the H-1B visa to be allowed to be a resident doctor and enroll in fellowship programs in teaching medical institutions in the United States.


Should the foreign doctor seek employment in the United States, there are special licensing requirements that need to be complied with before filing the application. The following are the qualifications for H-1B visas for foreign doctors.


For Research. If an individual is a foreign medical graduate and is seeking to teach or do research in the United States, then proof of the conferment of a medical degree in the country of origin as well as providing evidence of licensure to practice medicine. If there is little patient care involved, these are sufficient but if there is patient care involved in the practice of medicine, the individual applicant should acquire the appropriate license in the state where the practice of medicine is to be done.


For Clinical Practice or Graduate Medical Training. If the foreign doctor seeks to engage in clinical practice or engage in graduate medical training, the following requirements need to be complied with:


  • The individual applicant must have a license or other form of authorization in the state where the medical practice would be held;
  • The individual applicant must have an unrestricted license to practice medicine from the country of origin or must have graduated from a foreign medical school recognized by the United States or a United States medical educational institution;
  • The individual applicant should pass the appropriate medical licensure examinations in order to be allowed to practice;


The following are the exams that is covered under the previous discussion. The individual applicant needs to pass any one of the following to be allowed to practice medicine in the United States under a H-1B visa:


  • Parts I and II of the Federation Licensing Examination or FLEX or an equivalent examination as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services;
  • Parts I, II, and III of the National Board of Medical Examiners or NBME;
  • Steps 1,2 and 3 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination or USMLE;


Mixing and matching any of these examinations is not allowed for H-1B visa purposes. Passing previous examinations would be sufficient and completion of other exams in that category would be sufficient to comply with the legal requirements. For all visa applicants, passing the Test of English as a Foreign Language or TOEFL is a mandatory requirement.

If you are a foreign doctor and would like to learn more about getting a H-1B visa, please contact or schedule an appointment with our immigration attorneys.