Most IMG's will require a visa to enter and work inside the United States. Fortunately, if you match into a residency position, your new hospital will sponsor your visa petition and you don't have to worry about getting a working visa until after the match occurs. Commonly, there are two types of visas that are offered to IMG's: the J1 and the H1B visa.

A J1, or educational exchange visa, has the purpose of allowing foreign professionals to expand their education and training in the United States. It lasts as long as the physicians are in training with a maximum of 7 years, after which they must return to their home countries. It is not considered an immigration visa, and people under a J1 won't be allowed to change their legal status under any circumstance as long as the J1 visa lasts. Most IMG's have the intention to remain in the United States after the training, and J1 is the most common visa given to IMG's. Physicians under a J1 that is about to expire, must contact an immigration lawyer to start their application to a visa waiver. A waiver allows physicians to change their status to an H1B visa by working for 3 years in hospitals and locations designated by the US government where physicians are needed. Dependants of a physician holding a J1 visa are eligible for the J2 visa, which allow them to work and live legally in the United States as long as the J1 visa lasts. To get your J1 visa, you will need documentation from the government of your country explaining your desire to return after your training ends. Staff from the hiring hospital should give the instructions to follow in order to complete the visa petition. Most of the time, the physician must pay a fee for the visa processing. Once the physicians have the visa petition, they must present that document to the local US Embassy at their home countries to get the stamp in their passports.

The H1B, or working visa, has the purpose of allowing foreign professionals to work legally in the United States. It lasts as long as the physicians are hired with a maximum of 6 years, and after that time they are not obliged to return to their home countries. It is considered a visa with duel intent, which means that people under a H1B can request a change in their legal status to a permanent resident as long as they obtain a sponsor. No waiver application is required if the physician decided to remain in the US after the visa expired. H1B visa is very hard to obtain and not all hospitals offer one to IMG's. Dependants of a physician holding a H1B visa are eligible for the H4 visa, which allow them to live legally in the United States as long as the H1B visa lasts, but they are not allowed to work or request a social security number unless they obtain their own H1B visa or a green card. Staff from the hiring hospital should give the instructions to follow in order to complete the visa petition. Most of the time, the physician must pay a fee for the visa processing (it is more expensive than the J1). Once the physicians have the visa petition, they must present that document to the local US Embassy at their home countries to get the stamp in their passports.

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