Navigating Visa-Related Questions for Foreign Medical Residents: A Guide for Physician Recruiters and HR Specialists


On March 17th, Match Day 2023, medical students in Michigan and across the U.S. took a significant step towards their careers as physicians. As the excitement of discovering their residency placements fades, the reality of seeking full-time employment sets in. For physician recruiters and HR specialists, this means fielding complex visa-related questions from foreign medical resident job seekers. This guide will cover the two primary visa statuses for foreign nationals in U.S. graduate medical education programs, the J-1 and H-1B visas, and their impact on future employment as a physician in the U.S. 

J-1 Visa Holders: Key Points and Impact on Employment 

  • J-1 visa holders must fulfill the “Two-year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement” before obtaining an H-1B visa or permanent residency.
  • Waivers are often granted for physicians to work in health care professional shortage areas (HPSA).
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) and Conrad 30 program offer waivers for primary care practitioners and specialists.
  • Employers and applicants must allow several months for paperwork to be processed and should consult an immigration attorney when necessary. 

H-1B Visa Holders: Key Points and Impact on Employment 

  • H-1B visa holders can avoid the J-1 waiver requirement and work in non-shortage areas but may face a reduced work authorization limit.
  • Employers should consider green card processing as part of initial contract negotiations for medical residents who complete their training in H-1B status.
  • To ensure a smooth employment process, employers should consult an immigration attorney during negotiations when physician immigration issues arise. 


Understanding the complexities of J-1 and H-1B visas is crucial for physician recruiters and HR specialists assisting foreign medical residents in finding employment in the U.S. By being knowledgeable about the visa requirements and potential obstacles, recruiters can provide valuable support to their candidates and ensure a smooth transition to full-fledged employment. 

If you or your family members have any questions about how immigration and nationality laws in the United States may affect you, or if you want to access additional information about immigration and nationality laws in the United States or Canada, please don’t hesitate to contact the immigration and nationality lawyers at NPZ Law Group. You can reach us by sending an email to or by calling us at 201-670-0006 extension 104. We also invite you to visit our website at for more information.