Types of Visas to Explore in Healthcare


In recent years, the United States has struggled with a significant shortage of healthcare professionals, exacerbating the challenges facing an already strained healthcare system. This workforce shortage, attributed to factors such as an aging population and increased demand for healthcare services, has created a critical need for qualified healthcare professionals. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted this urgent need for healthcare workers, with healthcare facilities under strain and patient-to-caregiver ratios skyrocketing.

Recruiting qualified healthcare professionals from overseas has become increasingly popular as a strategic solution to combat immediate workforce shortages. Hiring foreign workers on U.S. work visas not only fills crucial roles, but also brings diverse perspectives and global expertise to the U.S. healthcare landscape.

If you work in the healthcare industry and are looking to bolster your business with international talent, we’ve put together a guide to common U.S. work visas to consider for your future international employees.

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H-1B visa

One of the most common work visas for business immigration to the United States, the H-1B visa is commonly used for highly skilled workers in “specialty occupations”. Although not exclusive to the healthcare sector, it is a valuable option for recruiting foreign healthcare professionals with specialized expertise, such as doctors, surgeons, nurses, dentists and medical researchers. It is important to note that employers sponsoring H-1B visas must ensure that the applicant has the required qualifications and licenses to practice medicine in the United States.

Not sure if a certain position qualifies for an H-1B visa? Check out our guide to find out what types of specialty occupations qualify for an H-1B visa.

An immigrant talking with her doctor

J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa

The J-1 visa program facilitates the exchange of people for educational and cultural purposes. In the healthcare industry, the J-1 visa for medical graduates is commonly used for clinical training programs, including medical residencies and fellowships. These programs are essential for foreign medical graduates seeking additional training and experience in a specific medical specialty.

J-1 visa holders in medical programs typically work in accredited educational institutions, hospitals, or clinical settings. The program must be approved by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) or be sponsored by the appropriate government agency.

Learn more about the J-1 visa process and eligibility requirements here.

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Conrad 30 Exemption Program

For HR professionals looking to hire J-1 medical graduates, it may be helpful to look into the Conrad 30 Waiver program.

The Conrad 30 Waiver Program allows J-1 medical graduates to apply for a waiver of two-year residence requirement if committed to working in medically underserved areas in the United States, this provides the opportunity for J-1 visa holders to stay and contribute to health care in areas where there is a shortage of professionals of health. Eligibility requirements for the Conrad 30 Waiver program may vary from state to state, so be sure to check with your local public health department before pursuing this option for your potential hire.

TN Visa for Canadian and Mexican Healthcare Professionals

Depending on the type of position available, the TN visa may be a good option to consider for Canadian and Mexican healthcare professionals, including nurses, doctors, and therapists. This visa category is particularly beneficial for expedited hiring processes, as it often requires minimal documentation compared to other visa types.

Learn more about the TN visa for Canadian and Mexican nationals here.

THE O visa is for people with extraordinary abilities or achievements in their field. Although they are usually associated with artists and athletes, healthcare professionals with exceptional achievements, such as renowned surgeons or medical researchers, can also benefit from the O visa. Human resources professionals must collaborate with legal experts to demonstrate the candidate’s extraordinary contributions to the healthcare field.

H-2B visa for temporary non-agricultural workers

Although intended primarily for non-agricultural workers, the H-2B visa may be applicable in certain healthcare scenarios where temporary staffing needs arise, such as during peaks in patient influx or seasonal demand.

It is crucial for HR professionals to understand the limitations and requirements associated with the H-2B visa, ensuring compliance with current regulations. For example, the H-2B visa is typically only issued for up to one year and therefore may not be the best choice for companies looking to fill more permanent positions.

The essential

To effectively address the healthcare workforce shortage in the United States, human resources professionals and healthcare companies should explore various avenues, including the strategic use of work visas. By understanding the nuances of each visa category and aligning them with specific healthcare roles, organizations can navigate the complex immigration landscape and obtain the talent needed to meet the country’s healthcare standards.

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If you are a human resources professional or business owner looking to hire international talent, access our business immigration solutions and in-house legal team. here.

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