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Critical Immigration Rules For IMG Residents/Fellows (Rule 6): H-1B Visa Restrictions and Portability

Posted by Ann Badmus | Jan 16, 2013 | 0 Comments

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.

H-1B Portability

  • 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

About the Author

Ann Badmus

Principal and Managing Attorney


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