Rule # 6 . . . . H-1B Visa Restrictions and Portability
H-1B visas are truly temporary visas with certain restrictions:
- H-1B status can be valid up to 3 years initially, renewable for 3 more years.
- There is a 6 year maximum stay with some exceptions –
- 1 year extensions available after 6th year if green card application pending for at least one year
- 3 year extension available if green card application is on hold because of limited availability of green cards.
- Physician is eligible for another 6 years after 1 year outside U.S.
- No specific contract term is required (except for J-1 to H-1B physicians with IGA waivers)
- Medical license in the state of employment is required before filing H-1B petition.
- If physician is already in H-1B status and changing employers, the new employer must file H-1B petition.
- The physician may start new employment upon filing of new H-1B petition –you do not need wait for final approval.
- Concurrent H-1B petitions are permitted – “moonlighting.”
Strategic Job Search for H-1B Physicians
- Start job search immediately after 2nd year of residency or one year before completion of fellowship
- Finalize employment by early Fall of 3rd year of residency or final year of fellowship
- Target cap-exempt employers or employment
- If competing for non-exempt H-1B, have contract in place by February so that H-1B petition can be filed on April 1
- Apply early for your medical license
- Hire an immigration attorney early in process