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Name: Digitaldoc, MD
Location: United States

Driven by the desire to help and innovate !

Taking USMLE steps? Get the basics right about H1, J1, Green Card and related issues for Foreign / International Medical Graduates, IMGs, FMGs, Medical Students, Residents, Physicians & Doctors
**International Copyright** | Last Updated: 24th March 2011

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Monday, December 12, 2005

H1B versus J1 Visa Residency

Lets Compile a few arguments on these two visa types for the Foreign Medical Graduates. Differences between H1B and J1 Visa for Foreign Doctors / Residents / Medical Graduates are :

1. A H1B Visa needs to be sponsored by the Residency Program while a J1 is sponsored by ECFMG - this tells you why most programs prefer the J1 Visa and leave the processing headache to ECFMG. However, most of them
are also unaware that H1B Visa processing is no big deal and is often as fast or sometimes faster. And what is meant by "Sponsored" - It refers to the Legal paperwork and fees ! [Pssst...Pssst : If you can do a good explaining job to the Program Directors about the H1B Visa - sometimes you might even clinch an H1 from a J1 offering program ]

2. You can Moonlight on a H1B visa and earn some extra $$ besides your fellowship or job - but you are NOT permitted to do any moonlighting on a J1 Visa ! Read the official statement about this from ECFMG Here. To know about Moonlighting - Refer to the section on Moonlighting Here.

3. Both H1B and J1 are Non-Immigrant Visas. While H1 has a maximum of 6 years, J1 has 7 years on its expiry date. After expiry a J1 visa holder has no option but to get back to his home country for 2 years before attempting a re-entry. On the other hand an H1 Visa guy, after his 6 years, can go to any country and come back after 1 year, which "resets" his H1B status and he can work another 6 years...

4. Green card processing can begin while on an H1B visa - NOT on a J1 Visa.

5. The easiet way a J1 Holder can change visa status is to find a 'J1-Waiver' Job in underserved areas in the USA ! And NO - even if you get married to a US citizen or a Green card holder - your visa cannot change from J1 - its GOT to be a J1-waiver, either via a waiver job or other much tougher waivers as discussed here on J-1 waiver basics for IMGs .

6. A dependent Spouse of a J1 IMG (i.e. J2 visa holder) can apply for an Employment authorization and can work for any employer (can even do a residency / fellowship) in the USA as long as the J1-holder maintains J1 status, whereas the dependent spouse of a H1b IMG (i.e. H4 visa holder) is NOT ALLOWED To WORK anywhere in the USA, unless the spouse finds an employer willing to sponsor a separate H1b or J1

Hmm..A J1 resident, I spoke to recently, told me it's not too tough to get a J1-waiver job for primary care specialties (Family medicine, Internal medicine, Ob-Gyn, Psychiatry and Pediatrics) while it may be a shade tougher for other specialties and fellowship-trained sub-specialists

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Comments on "H1B versus J1 Visa Residency"


Blogger Flashjet said ... (October 19, 2007 at 3:22 PM) : 

What about the 5-year J1 waiver rule. May you please explain it in more detail.

By the way; as always, your posts are great.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (November 11, 2007 at 10:22 PM) : 

First of all. Thank you for this blog. It has been very and I mean VERY informative for me and other IMG's out there.

I have a question that you might know, or perhaps someone else that has gone through the same situation. What if an IMG (H1b status) has his visa expired six months before finishing his program and has been with a H1 visa for 6 years already?

Would he be able to file a petition for a green card and continue in his residency while he receives an answer for his petition?, or in the other hand,he would be illegal from the time his H1b status expires?

Thank you.


Blogger PARAS said ... (November 17, 2007 at 4:22 AM) : 

HI dIGITAL DOC,,,,,,,,,,,
As u said no. of interviews decreases with H1b visa and as u mention max. limit is 6 yrs for H1b....then how one can persue interventional cardiology ( distant dream!!!)...
Because residency and cardio fellowship will take 6 most of univ. need 1 more year 4 intervention....that means total 7 is it like that fellow will hv to take 1 year break be4 joining interventional cardiology...


Blogger Digitaldoc, MD said ... (November 17, 2007 at 2:51 PM) : 

A friend of mine took a break after residency and came back for his cardio fellowship after a year - did a 1-year Masters in Europe and had already secured a cardio fellowship before going.

some other options besides a break sometime:
1. Some happen to get married to US citizenship holders
2. Getting the program sponsor a green card for the fellowship (not easy)
3. Doing a job with a green-card sponsoring employer after Residency , and then doing the fellowships after
4. Get into a Green Card Sponsoring Residency Program: Example Crozer Chester IM Program in PA is sponsoring Green Card for some IMGs from the 2007 Application year (2008 Match)


Blogger Digitaldoc, MD said ... (November 24, 2007 at 10:44 AM) : 

Currently, as of 2007, the J1-waiver job period requirement is still 3 years for all primary care positions and some sub-specialist positions. In some states, IMGs working as sub-specialists on a J1-waiver job need to sign a contract for 5 years. Have covered that here.

There are still rumors that J1-waiver period for all J1 IMGs would be made five / 5 years, but I have no confirmed news on that yet.


Anonymous Ramx said ... (February 1, 2008 at 11:33 PM) : 

Hi Digi doc... thats great news about J1 visa. I got a doubt about the pay scale for a Internal medicine physician on J1 waiver job. Any idea how much are they paid?


Blogger Digitaldoc, MD said ... (February 2, 2008 at 12:27 AM) : 

US Federal Law requires that J1-waiver physicians be paid the same like any other American physician in the same position. However some employers have misused J1 physicians like i covered here.

Check out the MDsalaries Blog for Physician Salaries in America


Anonymous Girish said ... (March 4, 2008 at 12:51 PM) : 

suppose if I manage to get a research job and they are sponsoring my h1b visa, now can i apply for residencies at places where they dont offer h1b and use the research job visa for residency? (i guess not so unless i am applying for the residency in the same hospital)


Blogger Digitaldoc, MD said ... (March 4, 2008 at 1:21 PM) : 

No, h1b is employer-based visa and applies even for transfers, the new employer (residency in your case) will need to be willing to do the transfer. For j1 residencies, you will need to change to J1

But there are residency programs that are willing to accept H1b transfers rather than sponsor a whole new H1b- which still gives you an advantage over others with no visa


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (March 6, 2008 at 11:15 AM) : 

hey this an awesome blog.......thanx for all the info.....i have heard that its easy to get fellowships on a J1 visa compared to H1 that right???


Blogger Digitaldoc, MD said ... (March 6, 2008 at 3:36 PM) : 

Hi, thanks for your comment :-)

I Have previously covered why its easier to get fellowships on J1 than H1b


Anonymous Girish said ... (March 7, 2008 at 7:29 PM) : 

Suppose if i manage to get that h1b research thingy done (as said above in a comment to this post itself), then can i do my step 3 later. i mean to ask - as thet say step 3 is needed if you want h1b, - in this case would it be needed for h1b visa transfer too? I guess if that research things work out for me i would be too busy to deal with step 3 at the same time


Blogger Digitaldoc, MD said ... (March 8, 2008 at 1:46 AM) : 

Step 3 is needed only for clinical H1b visas - not for research h1b, but if you transfer from a Research H1b to a Clinical H1b - you will need a passing Step 3 before the clinical H1b


Blogger superdoc said ... (March 29, 2008 at 9:11 PM) : 

As far as the moonlighting issue is concerned, I know that "In House" moonlighting is surely allowed even on a J1 visa, as it is considered as a part of your education and training and not really an extra job, this is especially true for a specialty like emergency medicine, where the FMG resident can do few extra shifts/week and earn a decent income. And as far as the H1b visa is concerned, to do moonlighting outside the program, u gotta have ur own malpractise insurance (or ask the moonlighting employer to take care of it) as well as get an additional permission because the residency H1b permits you to work only for the residency program, not the outside employer


Anonymous deepak said ... (March 30, 2008 at 6:53 PM) : 

thanks a lot digital doc for all the information u post.God bless you with everything u need.girish,i am also about to get h-1 b research job, please contac me if u wanna share some ,my id,
thanks a lot


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (April 15, 2008 at 1:18 AM) : 

Hi Digitaldoc,

Thanks for the wonderful blog. My employer is sponsoring my J1 to get in to US and I am wondering if I might be able to buy a property or I need to have green card to do so.



Blogger Sanket said ... (April 17, 2008 at 1:30 AM) : 

Hi Digidoc

I am trying to explore the existence of research waivers, where J1 can be waived by doing research. What are the other clauses for waiver jobs? Can you provide some links that I can visit to explore this possibility?


Blogger Digitaldoc, MD said ... (April 18, 2008 at 11:29 AM) : 

Yes - as far as I know, you are allowed to buy property in the US on any J1 / H1b visas

If you are talking about ECFMG J1, then as of now, the only waiver-job way of circumventing the 2-year home rule is a clinical waiver job through the J1-waiver sponsoring agencies. If you are looking for research during the waiver job, then finding a clinical faculty position at a University in areas falling physician shortage areas or even the VA hospital would be the way to go .


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (April 21, 2008 at 8:55 AM) : 

I am unsure on something. I have both options from sponsor of J1 and H1b. I prefer H1b but I heard that you must have step 3 completed to get the H1B. Is this True?


Blogger Digitaldoc, MD said ... (April 21, 2008 at 10:14 AM) : 

yes, you are right. I have covered that on a post about Step 3 and H1b residency / fellowship


Blogger v.r.patel said ... (August 28, 2009 at 11:18 AM) : 

hi digitaldoc...
thanks for wonderful blog.
i have h1b visa from 2008 to 2014...and most probably my petition file whichi put my brother open within 1 year....
then my h1b visa can convert to greencard or not on basis of my petition file


Anonymous Immigration1 said ... (December 8, 2009 at 4:25 AM) : 

This is good job, Good difference between two.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (March 21, 2010 at 8:45 PM) : 

How about an H1B job after residency due to the H1B cap???


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