I heard today about an Indian doctor whose visa was denied because the embassy folks thought he planned to stay here.

First, let’s talk about intent. Many non-immigrant visas require you to prove that you will return to your home country. If you have family in the US, this could be hard to prove. If you don’t have many ties to your home country, like a spouse, a family, a home and a steady job- it could be almost impossible.

“Dual intent” means that it’s fine if the visa applicant plans to find a way to remain permanently in the US. And, it’s fine if they haven’t decided yet if they plan to stay here permanently.

Here are some good options for physicians:

J-1 Visa is the Exchange Visitor Visa for persons who do not intend to abandon their foreign residence and are visiting the United States as trainees, students, professors, scholars, foreign physicians, etc., in an exchange visitor program that has been designated by the Department of State.   These visas require you to prove that you will return to your home country. If your entire family resides in the US, you are unlikely to get one.

H-1B visas are dual intent visas meaning that the applicant does not have to prove that he or she will return back to their home country as part of the visa process. Foreign Physicians may obtain H1-b visas under the following circumstances without required FLEX, USMLE, or NBME examination:
  1. That he or she is coming to the United States to teach, conduct research, perform incidental patient care at a public or non-profit institution,
  2. The Physician is of National or International reknown
  3. Physician is not coming to the United States to practice medicine (i.e. coming to the United States to work for a medical supply company)
  4. Physician graduated from a U.S. medical school.

An O visa can be granted to someone who displays “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim.” In the case of physicians, evidence of the physician’s renown and extraordinary ability may include awards from groups like the American Medical Association or the World Health Organization, publications in the New England Journal of Medicine or other journals. O visas are also considered “dual intent” meaning the applicant doesn’t have to prove he or she will return to his or her home country.

E-2- Investor visa. For those who have some cash to spare and want to invest in a business in the United States, A E-2 could be a great option.

If none of these is an option, consider family immigration but with wait times for non-immediate relatives being ridiculously long, spousal sponsorship may be the only reasonable option. Click here for the visa bulletin if you don’t believe me www.travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_1360.html