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Visa for dentists in USA-13

Updated: Feb 6, 2021

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”


Photo courtesy - @indykadeer


  • This is the biggest challenge in front of you if you do not have a visa.

  • The options to first move to the US is on a student Visa.

F1 /Student Visa

  • Majority of the schools that have the Advanced Standing program for FTD’s offer F1 visas to students if they are accepted in their program and pay the required fees.

  • This website gives detailed steps on the application of the F1 visa in steps.

  • After finishing a student program with the F1 visa, for one year you can work on a government-sponsored work permit called OPT or Optional Practical Training. In this, you can work for anyone. After OPT, you are allowed to remain in the U.S. for 60 days to change your work status or transfer your F-1 to a new school.

Work Visa Options

  • This is a temporary or non-immigrant “speciality occupation” US visa, which means the holder is employed in a position that requires specialized skills or knowledge.

  • H-1B Visa Requirements

    • Applicant should hold a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree (or the foreign equivalent)

    • The degree requirement for the job is typical for the job

    • The work must be one that requires a professional in a speciality occupation

    • Applicant must possess deep knowledge in the required field

    • The employer must demonstrate the lack of qualified US applicants for the position

  • Firstly, a US employer has to choose you and agrees to employ you and file for your H-1B visa. For that, the employer files for an H-1B petition with USCIS. The petition itself is a 2-step process.

1. Getting the Labor clearance.

2. Filing the H-1B petition with USCIS.

  • The employer will pay for the applicant’s visa fees and will submit the required documents on behalf of the applicant to bring them to the US so that they can work for their company.

  • An H1-B visa is valid for three years and can be extended to up to six years. There are also exceptions to extend the visa for even more years depending on the type of work being performed. For example, a foreign US Department of Defense worker can extend their visa for up to 10 total years.

  • If you ever quit or are dismissed by the employer that sponsored your visa, you will either have to find a new employer and complete new paperwork, apply for a change of status, or be deported and have to return to your home country. There is a grace period of 60 days to find a new employer or submit your green card application for permanent residency.

  • The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit or "cap" of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. There are an additional 20,000 visas for applicants who completed their master's degree from a US university. This cap is subjected to change based on regulations set forth by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Because of the strict limits, H-1B visas are granted on a lottery basis. This means there is no guarantee that, even if you qualify, you will be awarded your visa. ​​The H-1B lottery is a computer-generated random selection process that the USCIS uses to randomly pick H-1B visa applicants to approve. This process was put in place in response to the high number of H-1B applications that were annually received that way surpassed the visa quotas.

  • The fiscal Year 2020, the cap on the H-1B regular pool was 65,000, and the cap for specifically Master’s candidates was 20,000. However, the USCIS received 94,213 petitions for the regular pool and 95,885 for Master’s candidates. Since the number of applicants was more than the cap, there was a lottery for both pools. This is expected for upcoming fiscal years as well.

  • If you do not get selected in the H-1B lottery, then the USCIS will return your petition as well as the filing fee and you will have to leave the country. You can submit your application the next year to try and be selected again; however, you will have the same chance of being selected as everyone else.

  • Cap-exempt H-1B VISA - You can also get exempted from the lottery if you serve in areas which are underserved and sparsely populated. Pay is similar but you work for government-aided clinics which are located in rural areas.

  • Premium processing is said to resume for educational and research-oriented organizations exempt from the yearly cap of allotted H-1B visas, according to the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). Under the expedited procedure, applicants can be eligible for visa approvals within 15 days, instead of a regular review period that can last several months. The standard longer approval times for companies that use the H-1B visas will continue and altered as and when workloads permit.

2. TN

  • If you are not Canadian or Mexican, you can skip this part since this visa is only available for Canadian or Mexican citizens. With this visa, there is a limited list of occupations accepted to get the TN. Luckily, dentistry is on the list — however, requirements for the visa are even more strict than for an H1B visa.

  • In the application process, you will need to show your professional degree which allows you to practice dentistry in the United States. Once your visa has been approved, you will be able to stay in the US for 3 years.

  • After the three years of work you have the chance to renew the visa, however, it will be tough to get a green card with this visa. Therefore, we recommend that you apply only if you are planning to go back home after a certain period of time.

3. J-1

  • This visa works very well with medical students and is a very common visa for dentists. For this visa you need to have a sponsoring program from your university or dental school that allows you to work in the United States. The problem is that this visa is not made for people who are planning to live and work in the United States for an extended period of time.

  • After the visa is over, you are required to go back home and wait for two years before being able to apply for another visa or a green card. There is the option of the J-1 visa waiver that skips the two-year wait, but to get it you need to meet the following requirements:

    • Get a “no objection” statement from your home country’s government

    • Have a U.S. federal agency request the home residency requirement to be waived

    • Demonstrate that you would likely experience persecution if you returned to your home country

    • Show that returning to your home country would cause extreme hardship for you, your spouse, or your dependents.

  • The good news is that you will be able to apply for a green card with this visa. However, you have to meet the requirements or obtain a J1 visa waiver.

The ‘Dentist’ Green Card

  • Unlike the dentist TN visa and the H-1B visa for dentists as above, which are nonimmigrant visa classifications that allow foreign national dentists to live and work in the U.S. temporarily, the “Green Card” or Legal Permanent Residency allows a foreign national dentist to stay and work in the U.S permanently.

  • Under U.S. immigration law, employment-based Green Cards or Immigrant Visas are divided into 5 preference categories. Among those 5 categories, most dentists will fall into the Second Employment-Based Preference Category while a few may fall into the Third Employment-Based Preference Category.


  • In order to apply for this green card option, you need to have an advanced degree in your field or possess the exceptional ability and show you are the best in your area of expertise. You are a dentist, so you probably have a high degree which explains this. Now, you just need to find an employer in the United States that will sponsor this kind of visa for you. If you find an employer, they need to acquire a PERM Labor Certification for you to be able to sponsor this visa for you.

  • So what is a PERM? The company that is hiring you will first be required to put several ads out in the United States for your position to see if there is an American citizen qualified to take the job. If they do not find anyone, they will then be able to sponsor this visa for you. If you want to obtain this visa, you need to be a real specialist in your field.

5. EB-2 NIW

  • This is basically the same visa as the EB2 , the only difference being that you have to apply for a National Interest Waiver (NIW). With an NIW you can apply for this visa without having an employer sponsor your visa. In this case, you can self-petition your visa to set up your practice, and you don’t necessarily need an employer to do so.

  • Keep in mind that if you want to qualify for an NIW, you need to prove the following three things:

    • Your work has to benefit the nation’s health, education, culture, society, job, market, economy, etc.

    • You are uniquely qualified to advance your work and to succeed. Here you must have a proof of your degree, experience in the industry, and your past successes. Also, you need to present a comprehensive business plan for the practice you are planning to open in the US.

    • The US has to benefit from waiving your PERM requirement.

  • So how does it all work? First off, you need to apply for an EB-2 petition and then note on the petition that you are applying for an NIW. To do this, you need to attach a petition letter, an employment certification form, and letters of recommendation from peers. You then cross your fingers and hope that the US sees the benefit in bringing you over to set up your practice!


  • This is like an investor visa, the minimum investment amount for EB-5 is $1 million in a direct EB-5 case (unless the business is in a Targeted Employment Area or rural area) or $500,000 through a USCIS-approved regional centre project. Amounts will likely increase soon.

  • You must demonstrate a lawful source of funds for EB-5 funds and you cannot use retained earnings from the business for EB-5.

  • For direct EB-5 cases, you must also directly create at least 10 full-time jobs (at least 35 hours a week).

  • With a regional centre investment, you do not need to create jobs directly and may use indirect and induced job creation to qualify for EB-5 and will also qualify for a lower investment threshold.

I recommend that you read all the requirements for each visa on the official USCIS homepage as visa regulations keep changing and my interpretation may not be accurate and I would also advise you to contact an immigration lawyer before you make any decision on your visa situation.


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