In a significant milestone, the National Medical Commission (NMC) in India has secured 10 years of recognition from the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME). The recognition elevates the quality and standards of medical education in India to global levels – extending to all 706 existing medical colleges in India and any institution established in the next decade. For Indian medical professionals looking to work and settle abroad, this achievement holds immense promise and opens up a world of opportunities.
This milestone recognition paves the way for Indian medical graduates looking to complete their postgraduate training and professional opportunities in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. These countries typically require WFME recognition, and with India’s medical colleges now meeting this standard, Indian professionals now have a clear path to exploring international opportunities. Medical students can also be more confident in pursuing their education in India, knowing that their qualifications will be recognized worldwide.
Upon taking and passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), these graduates can consider where they want to pursue their medical license and seek employment in that area. However, even with the recent recognition and a passed USMLE, foreign medical graduates still face many challenges when it comes to attaining a visa and dealing with restrictions.
H-1B Visa Challenges & Restrictions
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, such as medicine. As a highly competitive visa, however, applications each year far exceed the number of visas available. Even if an applicant is highly qualified, the lottery process for the visa is a random selection process, providing no guarantee that they will be selected. When applicants are successful in attaining an HB-1 visa, they still face certain difficulties and restrictions that can limit their professional growth.
Most foreign medical graduates are often subjected to jobs in rural, underserved areas where jobs are less likely to be taken by American medical students. Additionally, HB-1 visa holders face the restrictions of having their visa tied to the sponsoring employer and the inability to open their own businesses. As startups and smaller organizations don’t typically sponsor employee visas, this limits an HB-1 visa holder’s job search to larger, layered corporate organizations.
These restrictions can make it difficult for foreign professionals to seek new employment due to the uncertainty of losing visa sponsorship. Many HB-1 holders do go on to eventually apply for green cards, but the wait time can be very lengthy, presenting another obstacle.
EB-5 Visa: A More Secure Alternative
For both young medical graduates and established doctors, the EB-5 visa program is an attractive option for securing permanent residency and working long-term in the United States. The program provides a unique opportunity for foreign investors, including Indian medical professionals, to secure a US Green Card for themselves and their families by making a qualifying investment.
The fastest route: The EB-5 visa is the fastest route to a green card. Once the required investment has been made and the petition approved, applicants will be able to apply for a conditional green card and ultimately a permanent green card two years later. EB-5 visa applicants can also secure a work permit within 3-5 months of their application submission, offering the quickest pathway to begin practicing medicine in the United States.
Freedom and mobility: Another attractive element is the fact that EB-5 investors are not tied to a specific employer or job, granting them the flexibility to pursue their medical careers as they choose. Established doctors looking to open their own practice can do so wherever they please.
This independence is also highly valuable to young professionals with ambitious career goals who want a fair chance at jobs in bigger cities. While younger graduates might not have the capital themselves to invest in the EB-5 program, they may apply using a donation from the family or getting a loan.
Family benefits: For medical doctors who are already established in their home countries, one of the most appealing aspects of the EB-5 program is that it extends to the investor’s immediate family. For many professionals, this can mean a higher quality of life, as well as better opportunities for work and education for their children. With established doctors being more likely to have the means to make an EB-5 investment, the program is a great option to secure a stable and permanent future in the United States.
The WFME’s recognition of Indian medical colleges opens up a wealth of global opportunities for Indian medical professionals. While the H-1B visa remains an option, the EB-5 visa program is a more secure and advantageous option for those seeking permanent residency and long-term work in the US. The prospect of a green card allows young professionals to build their careers and futures in the US without the uncertainties of visa lotteries. Congruently, Indian doctors can establish themselves and their families in the US, ensuring a prosperous and secure future.