If a foreign physician is unable to obtain an H-1B visa, it may be possible for them to obtain an O-1 visa. The O-1 is only issued to foreign physicians who demonstrate extraordinary ability. While the O-1 visa requires the foreign physician to be sponsored by their prospective employer, it comes with less employer liability than the H-1B. For example, there is no prevailing wage requirement or posting requirement. Additionally, there is a lesser record-keeping requirement on the part of the employer, and the fees they must pay to the government are much lower than with the H-1B. The O-1 visa is approved for three years with unlimited extensions. While there is no quota on O-1 visa availability, an O-1 physician's spouse cannot work in the U.S.
The TN-1 visa is issued to foreign physicians who are citizens of Mexico or Canada. However, they must have graduated from a medical school in the U.S. If a physician graduated from a foreign medical school, then the TN-1 limits them to teaching or research with very limited actual practice. An advantage of the TN-1 visa, which is issued for a three year period, is that it can be processed in a single day at the port of entry.
A foreign physician who come to the United States on an H1-B, O-1, or TN-1 visa can, when he or she qualifies, seek permanent resident status (Green Card). As mentioned in our previous article, J-1 physicians must return to their home country for two years before seeking a Green Card. However, it is possible to have the two-year requirement waived.