Recruiting doctors has become vital, as the shortage of physicians in the U.S. continues to grow. This is especially true in rural and lower-income areas, which have the highest percentage of underserved patients in the country. Foreign-born doctors make up over 25% of all doctors in the U.S., making them indispensable to hospitals and clinics seeking to fully serve their patient’s needs. In order to successfully recruit and hire immigrant doctors, employers need to be aware of special immigration options available to immigrant doctors. Three of these are discussed below.
Conrad 30 Waiver Program
One of the most effective ways to recruit physicians to rural and low-income practice sites is by using the Conrad 30 waiver program. This program makes 30 spots available each year for health providers to hire immigrant physicians to work in specified physician shortage areas in each state. The physician must be subject to the two year home residency requirement, which applies to all immigrant doctors who come to the U.S. to receive internship, residency, subspecialty, or fellowship training. For this reason, many immigrant doctors completing their graduate medical education specifically seek out hospitals and clinics that offer Conrad waiver sponsorship, since they need it to remain in the U.S.
The major benefit of this program for employers is that it obligates the immigrant doctor to work for at least three years at the specified clinic or hospital, in order to receive a waiver of the two year home residency requirement. In some states, Conrad waivers are highly competitive, in large measure because they offer such a solid means to recruit and hire physicians for difficult-to-fill positions.
Physician National Interest Waiver
Similar to the Conrad waiver program discussed above, an immigrant physician can qualify for permanent residence (a “green card”) in the U.S. by working in a medically underserved area of the country for five years. The Immigration Service deems this work as being in the national interest and will therefore waive the usual requirement that an employer test the labor market before sponsoring an employee for a green card. This program further incentivizes immigrant doctors to work in medically underserved areas—or remain at their practice site in the case of a doctor on a Conrad waiver—since they can qualify for permanent residence upon completing five years of service. It is a good option for hospitals and clinics looking to fill openings on a long term basis.
Employers looking to hire extremely accomplished doctors with lengthy CVs can also get O-1 visas. These visas are available to a small percentage of doctors who are nationally or internationally renowned in their field. They are a good way for employers to hire accomplished medical researchers, business people, surgeons, and inventors, among others. Employers can also use them to hire doctors who are subject to the two year home residency requirement discussed above.
Contact attorney losif Sorokin at 651-312-6500 or email him if you would like to learn more about the immigration options available to foreign physicians. This alert is for informational purposes only.
Please also visit our immigration page on our website here.