inside immigration information about marriage green cards and work visas in America


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by Danielle Nelisse, Immigration Attorney

veterinarian american work visaBefore an American employer can submit an application to the American government (USCIS) for a work visa for a foreign veterinarian, the foreign veterinarian needs to obtain a state license to practice veterinary medicine in the American state where they will be working.

Each of the 50 states of the United States issues their own license to practice veterinary medicine in their state. Theoretically, it is possible to have 50 licenses to practice veterinary medicine in all of the 50 states.  In most cases (there are some exceptions) a copy of the state license must be submitted with the work visa application.

For example, to find out the veterinary licensing rules for the American state of California, check the website for the California Veterinary Medical Board.

Each of the 50 states has different rules concerning veterinary licensing requirements, fees, when a license to practice veterinary medicine is required, and how to apply.  Most of the states require that the foreign veterinarian pass a national test before they take their state test.

For more information about all of the American work visas available for foreign veterinarians, click here.

One of the work visas that are available to licensed professionals is the H-1B visa, which must be submitted by the employer. The foreign veterinarian cannot submit an H-1B visa petition on their own. The H-1B visa petition that an animal hospital submits to the USCIS has to list the specific hospitals that the foreign veterinarian would be veterinarian state licenseauthorized to work for, and it is permissible to list more than one hospital located in different states on one H-1B visa petition. The H-1B visa petition may be submitted up to 6 months ahead of time.

For example, the H-1B visa petition could request authorization for a foreign veterinarian to work at one hospital in the state of New York and another hospital in the state of New Jersey (so long as both animal hospitals are owned by the same company). After the H-1B visa is approved, either location could be selected.

At the time an H-1B visa petition is submitted to the American government by the animal hospital, the employer’s immigration attorney must submit proof that the foreign veterinarian is already licensed to practice veterinary medicine in both New York and New Jersey.  The majority of American immigration attorneys do not assist the foreign veterinarians in getting their licenses to practice veterinary medicine.

For information about veterinary licensing in states other than California, google the name of the American state and the words “veterinary license” to find the Veterinary licensing website for the licensing agency in that state.

Are there any license exceptions?

  • In many states, if a foreign national seeks a job position at a American university (in a veterinary resident or veterinary intern position) or a job position with a non-profit organization (such as an animal shelter or humane society) they MAY be exempt from the license requirement – the job announcement should state whether a license is required or not.
  • In a few states, such as Hawaii, a foreign veterinarian is allowed to work under the supervision of a veterinarian licensed by the State of Hawaii.
  • Some work visas do not require that the state license be submitted in order to get the work visa (although you may have to show the application is in progress and will be approved shortly).  Those visas are E-3 visas for Australians, TN visas for Canadians and Mexicans, and H1B1 Visas for veterinarians from Chile and Singapore.
  • Lastly, if a foreign veterinarian is working in a position that does not involve treatment of animals, such as an animal scientist working in a laboratory or a veterinarian working in a non-clinical teaching position that is not CLE accredited, most states do not usually require a license.

Educational Prerequisites and Pre-Licensing ECFVG Certificate for Foreign Veterinarians

The educational prerequisite educational prerequisite for veterinary licensure in most American states includes graduation from a veterinary school accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education.  For graduates of foreign, non-accredited schools, most American states require successful completion of an educational equivalency assessment certification program called the ECFVG.

danielle nelisse immigration attorneyObtaining the ECFVG certificate helps bridge the gap between the dream for some veterinarians of licensure in the United States, and the reality of achieving the American Dream.

Hopefully this helps explain the work visa process for foreign veterinarians.

Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse, Immigration Attorney

Email or call (619) 235-8811 or (877) 884-6644 for a free phone consultation after your research the state requirements for a license to practice veterinary medicine.

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