Hiring Overseas Healthcare Professionals

In the U.S., the shortage of healthcare professionals (HCPs) and the dependence on international medical graduates (IMGs) to fill gaps in the healthcare workforce is expected to increase in the future, thanks to all the great education coming from www.calc.edu/programs/medical-assistant/.

Understanding immigration and the visa system is part of a hiring strategy and is crucial to hiring international graduates. These HCPs typically come to complete their training on J-1 visas and in some select instances, on H-1B visas. The J-1 visa is a basic medical training visa. It enables IMGs to join U.S.-based residency and fellowship programs and is issued for the period of time necessary to complete training (maximum of seven years). The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows employers to hire international talent. Typically, the H-1B visa is good for three years and allows for one extension for another three years. After this time, the visa holder must either leave the U.S. for one year or obtain a green card.

To practice in the U.S., International Medical Grads must complete the following requirements:

  1. Pass steps 1 and 2 of the United States Medical Licensing Exam
  2. Get certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).
  3. Complete a residency program in the U.S., whether or not they have completed one in their home country (the exception is Canada, whose residency programs are recognized in the U.S.)

Once the visa candidates have fulfilled these requirements, this is where your job as a recruiter begins. International candidates need an employer to act as their sponsor so they can obtain a visa to remain in the U.S. As a recruiter, it is important to understand the visa process to help you in sponsoring international candidates.

The final requirement of the J-1 visa is that the physicians, having completed their training, return to their home country for two years before being eligible for other U.S. visas. However, the sponsoring employer can obtain a waiver to change the J-1 status to a H-1B status. The H-1B visa holder must then work for the sponsoring employer for at least three years.

As a recruiter, understanding the requirements that a J-1 visa holder needs to fulfill before becoming eligible for the H-1B visa will allow you to be proactive and open up a new avenue for sourcing HCP talent.