The different types of immigration processes for doctors are that this can be quite confusing because there are so many different options to choose from.
J1 visa for Doctors
The first option here is if you’re a physician and you’re in the residency program on a J1 visa, then you would need to apply for a J1 waiver. That’s because the J1 visa requires you to return home for two years. The J1 waiver alleviates that problem, the specifics of the J1 waiver and the requirements of the different J1 waiver program, such as the Conrad 30, the hardship waiver, the VA waiver, et cetera. After the J1 waiver, you can apply for an H1B visa and then you can apply for permanent residency and citizenship.
After having permanent residency for three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen, or if you have been in green card holder status for five years if you obtained permanent residency through employment-based immigration processes, then you can apply for citizenship. And you can actually apply for citizenship 90 days before the actual time requirements mentioned.
O1 visa for Doctors
Another option for physicians if you are in the J1 residency program is applying for an O1 visa. This allows you to temporarily bypass the two-year home residency requirement. Now, it’s important to note that it only temporarily allows you to bypass the requirement, because eventually, you will need to get a J1 waiver, and after getting the J1 waiver, then, of course, you can apply for permanent residency and citizenship.
H1-B visa for Doctors
And the third option is Physicians who come to the U.S. and participate in residency on the H1-B visa. Now, if you do that, you can file for an H1-B change of employer after you have completed residency, and then apply for permanent residency and citizenship.
Now, it’s important to note that if your H1-B residency was cap-exempt, then you would be cap-subject when you change employers. So it’s really important to work out the timing requirements to make sure that you are not going to have a gap in status moving from cap-exempt to cap-subject. One way to get around this is to concurrently file for your H1-B where you are working for the cap-exempt employer.
Those are the three different immigration options in a nutshell.