Your Next Step for Permanent Residency
When physicians have obtained a J-1 Waiver and H1-B visa, it’s not uncommon for them to begin exploring green card options. During their medical training or employment at a health care facility in the U.S., they may have determined that they wanted to continue living and working in the country. You may find yourself in a similar situation. If you want to pursue permanent residency, here are a couple of options available to doctors.
PERM/LABOR CERTIFICATION. If you have a J-1 Waiver or are in lawful status, you can file PERM through your employer. Filing for PERM is the most popular path to a green card for doctors. However, part of the filing process includes certifying that the job can’t be filled by a qualified, willing, and able U.S. citizen who’s interested in or has applied for the same position.
After that point, and after the PERM application has been certified, your employer can file the I-140 Immigrant Petition. Then, once you’ve fulfilled your J-1 Conrad 30 requirements or have obtained your J1 Hardship waiver, you can file the I-485 form for adjustment of status.
NATIONAL INTEREST WAIVER. You can file for a National Interest Waiver (NIW) only if you have already agreed to serve in an area with a health professional shortage, a medically underserved area, or with a U.S Veterans Affairs facility. Then, you must work for a total of five years in one of those service areas for green card eligibility.
Unlike filing for PERM, a doctor can self-petition for an NIW. This option allows you to file, rather than having your employer file or petition for you. Additionally, you can file for both the NIW and have a PERM application pending at the same time, maximizing your green card options.