It is common for most of our clients to participate in a U.S. residency program in J-1 or H-1B status. Doctors who entered the U.S. in J-1 status on the clinical training category are subject to the two year home country residency requirement under section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and are required to return to their home country upon the completion of the J-1 program.
If you provided health care services to patients, you probably participated in a J-1 clinical training program. If at the end of the program, you wish to remain in the U.S., you would be required to obtain a J-1 waiver of the home residency requirement before applying for a change of status. Otherwise, you will be required to return to your home country for 2 years before you can apply for a nonimmigrant or immigrant visa to return to the U.S. and work.
If you are a doctor participating in a U.S. residency program in H-1B status you do not need to obtain a waiver or work in an underserved area. However, if you are in H-1B status, you must be mindful of other immigration issues outlined in this report (see Mistake # 6 and Mistake # 7).