Foreign Health Care Workers and H-1B Classification

January 2010Articles Bulletin (Allegheny County Medical Society)

Foreign-born health care workers play a critical role in our country’s health care delivery system. A fundamental non-immigrant classification for foreign workers is the H-1B temporary worker visa. This article briefly outlines this very valuable visa, in part to demystify it and in part to encourage its use in securing skilled and indispensable workers who happen to be foreign born.

New H-1B Petition Filings

The H-1B is not limited to use by health care employers. In the past, it has been so popular that the annual supply has been exhausted before the fiscal year has begun. But not this year, or at least not yet, thanks to the downturned economy. Of the 65,000 new cap-subject H-1Bs that are available annually, a very limited number was still available as of early December 2009.

Not all new H-1B petitions are subject to numerical limitation or “cap.” If an individual is working for or at a qualifying non-profit institution of higher learning or working for or at a qualifying non-profit entity affiliated with an institution of higher learning, then his or her H-1B visa is cap exempt. In other words, there are no numerical limits when working for or at such an employer.

So, if a foreign physician is employed by a private practice but is physically working at a non-profit entity affiliated with an institution of higher learning, the H petition is cap exempt.

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