In addition to the immigration option available to all other intending immigrants, primary care physicians who make a commitment to serve for five years in medically underserved areas can file for permanent residency through an employment-based immigrant category called the “National Interest Waiver” (“NIW”). The NIW petition can be filed through an employer or through the physician’s own practice. If it will be filed through an employer, the physician must submit employment contract(s) totaling a minimum of five years. Physicians who are self-employed must submit business plans. Additionally, physicians must submit a recently dated public interest attestation from the State Health Department or a federal agency.
The NIW petition may be filed at any time before, during or after the three-year J-1 waiver commitment. The physicians and their accompanying family members may also file concurrent adjustment of status applications when visas numbers are available. However, the adjustment of status application will not be granted until the five-year commitment is completed.