Physician Immigration

At St. John Associates, we assist talented physicians in their search for a new professional opportunity. Many of these physicians require some form of visa consideration in their job search. Through our many years of serving the physician immigrant market, we have learned the special considerations candidates should make as they try to secure waiver sponsorship. While we recommend all of our visa candidates contact an immigration attorney, we hope that sharing our experiences will provide some good perspective for you as you begin your search.


When to Start Your Job Search

 Depending which visa waiver you are applying under, there will likely be:

1. a limited number of employers who can sponsor your waiver and

2. a tight timeline to sign a contract and submit your waiver request.


J1 Visas

J1 visa stamp in passport close up view

Most states’ Conrad 30 applications open October 1st of the year before your contracted start date. If you require a J1 waiver, you need a signed employment contract before this date to meet the deadline. While many employers won’t start interviewing until the late spring, we recommend you start identifying options and working with a physician recruiter early in your second to last year of training (residency or fellowship) to meet the deadline for the Conrad 30 waiver.


H-1B Visas

If you need H-1B Visa sponsorship, you should start your job search no later than the end of the second to last year of your training program (residency or fellowship). This will allow you a few months for interviewing, site visits, and contract negotiations before you finalize employment by the fall of your final training year.


You have multiple options to apply for H-1B sponsorship:


H-1B Cap positions are

  • limited in number,
  • open to professionals in multiple industries, and
  • are given out in a lottery


H-1B Cap-exempt employers are limited to

  • universities,
  • non-profits affiliated with secondary educational institutions,
  • governmental research organizations,
  • non-profit affiliates of governmental research institutions, and
  • for-profit organizations that require work at a university affiliated facility for a certain portion of the work week


If applying for a cap-subject H-1B, you need to have a contract in place by February of your last year of training to register for your H-1B in March.


H1B visa (for specialty workers) stamp in passport close up view

Consult a Physician Recruiter

Not all physician recruiting firms offer consultation for J1 and H-1B physician jobs. It is important to work with a recruiting firm that can present enough job options to find your perfect visa match, advocate for your needs, and understand the timeline requirements for obtaining a visa waiver position.  Questions to ask before starting a job search with a physician recruiter include:

  • Do you have experience successfully placing visa candidates?
  • How do you educate the employers you work with about the benefits of sponsoring a visa waiver?
  • Can you tell me more about the J1 or H-1B application timeline?


Consult an Experienced Immigration Attorney

Finding your visa waiver position is a critical step in your career and your path to citizenship. You deserve the very best information and advocacy. Don’t assume you only need to engage an immigration attorney when you encounter a challenge or hurdle in your job search. It’s much better to contact an immigration attorney as you begin your search so they can provide you with key information regarding your application timeline, state-by-state requirements, and considerations to make when evaluating employers. That way, when you begin evaluating contracts, you will already be engaged with an immigration attorney who knows your situation and can review your contract before you make your final decision.


The information provided in the blog post is general in nature and should not be relied on for specific situations. In addition to working with an experienced physician recruiter, St. John Associates recommends that all physician visa candidates consult with an experienced immigration attorney to get the right plan for their specific situation.


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