How to get an EB-2 Green Card as a Doctor or Physician

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Immigrants can acquire permanent residency in the United States by one of five ways. Permanent residents have “Green Cards” and this allows them to live, work and study in the U.S. permanently. They can also travel in and out of the U.S. without restrictions.Permanent residents also receive most benefits that U.S. citizens have access to. And if they meet the required criteria, permanent residents, or Green Card holders, can eventually become U.S. citizens. One of the ways that one can obtain a Green Card is through employment in the United States.

Every fiscal year, approximately 140,000 immigrant visas are available for foreign nationals (and their spouses and children) who seek to immigrate to the United States based on their job experience. With the right combination of skills, education, and/or work experience and are otherwise eligible, then they can apply for one of these employment-based (EB) visas. There are five (5) EB subcategories, called “preferences.” These preferences are:

  • EB-1, Priority Workers (including people of extraordinary ability, outstanding researchers and professors, and multinational executives and managers);
  • EB-2, Individuals Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability;
  • EB-3, Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other workers;
  • EB-4, Special Immigrants;
  • EB-5, Employment Creation: Reserved for Investors.

The second-preference employment category (EB2) allows foreign nationals that possess exceptional abilities and those who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees to get a Green Card.

A job offer and a labor certification are generally required in order to apply for an EB2 visa. This requirement can be waived if the foreign national demonstrates that granting an EB2 visa to that foreign national would be in the national interest of the United States.

EB-2 Green Card through a Physician National Interest Waiver (NIW)

One reason the USCIS may grant a National Interest Waiver (NIW) is because the EB2 visa applicant is a physician who agrees to work for a period of time in a designated underserved area.

Eligibility Criteria to Qualify for an EB-2 Visa as Physician:

  • The EB2 visa physician must agree to work full-time in a clinical practice. For most physician NIW cases, the required period of service is 5 years
  • The EB2 visa physician must work in a primary care (such as a general practitioner, family practice petitioner, general internist, pediatrician, obstetrician/gynecologist, or psychiatrist) or be a specialty physician.
  • The EB2 visa physician must serve either in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), Mental Health Professional Area (MHPSA – for psychiatrists only), a Medically Underserved Area (MUA), or a Veterans Affairs facility, or for specialists in a Physician Scarcity Area (PSA).
  • The EB2 visa physician must obtain a statement from a federal agency or a state department of health that has knowledge of the foreign national´s qualifications as a physician and that states that their work is in the public interest.

Application Process for Obtaining an EB-2 visa for a Physician

Acquiring a Green Card through the EB2 visa category is a two-step self-petitioning process. First the foreign investor must obtain approval of his or her Form I-140 Petition for an Alien Worker. Second, he or she must either file Form I-485 to adjust status to lawful permanent resident, or apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside of the United States. The EB2 visa applicant (and he or her derivative family members) are granted conditional permanent resident Green Cards for a two year period upon the approval of the I-485 application or upon entry into the United States with an EB-2 immigrant visa.

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