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Hi Attorney Nelisse,
How can I get an H-1B working visa so that I can work as a veterinarian in the United States?
I am from India, so I am not eligible for a two year E-3 visa (for veterinarians from Australians) or a three year TN visa (for veterinarians from Canadia and Mexico) or the 18 month H1B1 Visa (for veterinarians from Chile or Singapore).
Signed, Dr. H—- from India
Dear Dr. H—:
The steps to get an H-1B working visa (valid for a total of 6 years) are:
6 Steps To Getting American Work Visa
First, the foreign veterinarian needs to obtain a State License license to practice veterinary medicine in one of America’s 50 states. The most difficult states to obtain a license to practice veterinary medicine are CA and NY.
Second, the foreign veterinarian needs to obtain a job offer from an American employer. Most veterinarians start the process by searching online. With regard to finding Veterinary Intern, Veterinarian, or Specialist Veterinarian jobs, there are two or three primary animal hospital chains in the U.S. that own and operate multiple animal hospitals in most of the 50 states.
The American employer must agree not only to sign your H-1B visa application but in some cases also must agree to pay some of the government fees for the visa (for an H-1B visa, the American employer must pay between $750 and $1500 depending upon size of employer).
There are American companies that offer veterinarian job placement services, and one is Vet Relief. Another veterinarian job placement service is VetNetAmerica. Often there is no charge to the job seeker and they try to match the career objectives of the veterinarians with the animal hospital owner’s needs.
Third, the employer will need to agree to hire an American Immigration Lawyer to prepare the H-1B visa application. We are American Immigration Attorneys who specialize in preparing work visa applications for foreign veterinarians and veterinary interns or residents.
Fourth, the Immigration Attorney prepares and submits H-1B visa petition for employer to sign and submits it to the American government.
Fifth, after H-1B visa is approved by the American government, the foreign veterinarian goes to a U.S. Consulate in their home country to get 3 year H-1B visa stamp placed in their passport.
Sixth, the foreign veterinarian enters the USA using the H-1B visa stamp that was placed in their passport and starts working for their American employer.
Some American Employers Do Not Require a State License
Some of the foreign veterinarians are successful in skipping step 1 (obtaining a state license) because they apply for jobs offered by American universities and American non-profit agencies (many of them are exempt from state licensing). Other foreign veterinarians don’t have to get a license because the state they will work in allows them to work under the supervision of an American licensed veterinarian (such as the state of Hawaii).
What About the H-1B Visa Cap?
The H-1B Visas are limited and are subject to numerical limitations.
Alternatives to the H1b Visa
Each H-1B visa is only good for one employer, but foreign national veterinarians are allowed to have multiple H-1B visas for different employers at the same time, and are allowed to work full time or part time.
As an alternative to the H-1B visa, there are TN Visas for veterinarians from Mexico or Canada, E-3 Work Visas for veterinarians from Australia, and H1B1 Visas for veterinarians from Singapore or Chile.
Another work visa for foreign national veterinary interns is called the J Visa. Often a J visa can be used for an American residency/training program for veterinary interns, and may not require state licensing.
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.
Obtaining 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.
Danielle Nelisse, American Immigration Attorney
UPDATED OCTOBER 2016 | Email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your case after you research these legal issues.