To qualify for the immigrant visa (green card) as an “outstanding professor or researcher,” a foreign born physician must have at least three years of teaching or research experience. Furthermore, she must enter the U.S. to work in a tenure-track teaching or research position at an institution of higher learning or for a public or private research lab. In addition, she must show international acclaim as a researcher or professor by accomplishing at least two of the following achievements:
- Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in her field of expertise;
- Admission into a professional association that requires outstanding achievements of its members;
- The subject of an article in a professional publication detailing her work in the field of expertise;
- Participation as the judge of the work of others in the field;
- Original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the field; or
- Authorship of scholarly books or articles in the field of expertise.
EB-1 status as outstanding researcher or professor is not available to most foreign born physicians. Even more, for those physicians who are researchers or professors, it can be more difficult to qualify as an outstanding professor or researcher than it is to qualify as a person of extraordinary ability. This is because outstanding professors and researchers must have achieved international acclaim (in contrast to the national acclaim required by the extraordinary ability classification). Finally, unlike the extraordinary ability track, an outstanding professor or researcher must have an employer sponsor who will petition for the professor or researcher.
Caveat for Former J-1 Physicians
Physicians who held J-1 status and received a government-sponsored waiver of the two-year foreign residence requirement must complete the entire three years of required medical service before they can apply for adjustment of status or consular processing. For example, let's suppose that Dr. Smith began his three-year service for his J-1 waiver on January 1, 2016. His employer immediately started the labor certification process to sponsor him for a green card and obtained an approved I-140 on June 30, 2016. Unfortunately, Dr. Smith cannot apply for adjustment of status or consular processing until January 1, 2019 – the end of his three-year service requirement.
The only exception to this rule is for physicians who apply for a National Interest Waiver for physicians. In this case, the physician may file the I-140 and the I-485 concurrently, even though he has not completed three years of J-1 waiver service. However, the I-485 will not be approved until the physician has fulfilled his five-year medical service obligation as required by the National Interest Waiver. Nevertheless, the ability to file the I-485 is a real advantage because the physician's spouse will obtain an employment authorization document (EAD) which will allow him or her to work during the years that the I-485 is processed. For many physicians, this is the only way their spouse can work with authorization.
To schedule your immigration examination to determine whether you qualify for an EB-1B green card, click here.