J-1 Visa - Anesthesia Residency

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Jul 1, 2023
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- Is J-1 fine? Is there any benefit of J-1 Visas to an H1B? (Any benefits regarding fellowships?)
- Are J-1 Waiver Jobs for Anesthesiologists okay (Pay, call, location, workload)? I know it’s 3 years, so are they really that undesirable?
- Do most anesthesia residencies do J-1 or H1B?

Trying to understand if I should avoid J-1 at all costs and if it’s more advisable to get H1B. Thank you!

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J1 comes with a requirement to work in a medically underserved area (put the address of the hospital in here to determine if the hospital is considered underserved MUA Find) for 3 years once your training has concluded. Whether the hospital is underserved or not is determined by the federal government and has nothing to do with the hospital admin. The hospital itself cannot make that determination.

Once you’ve satisfied that 3-year requirement you can apply for a green card. J1 visas are considered training visas and are much easier to come by. It’s my understanding that few training institutions want to go through the hassle of issuing an H1B (I don’t exactly know why or how that burden is any worse than issuing a J1; it’s possible that the government has restrictive caps on how many can be given out).

Fortunately, or unfortunately, there are many underserved communities, many of which are rural, but some of which do exist within highly populated metropolitans, including New York City (parts of Brooklyn, for example), amongst others.

There is certainly no benefit to a J1, aside from them being more readily available. A J1 has strings attached. An H1 does not.

In terms of the pay, call, location, etc, those details are unaffected by the visa. That is, it would or should be unaffected by your visa status. You’re either legal to work or you’re not. And if you’re legal to work, your contract would be the same as anyone else in the group, whether they’re on a visa or not.

I would research which underserved areas you’d be willing to work in and, when the time comes to look for work, contact those groups/hospitals. The underserved hospital requirement may limit your geography to a certain extent, but I would say is not overly limiting.

All said, when it comes to deciding on where to train, I would avoid the J1 route if you can, but it is certainly not worth going to an inferior training program who could offer you an H1 if a better program was only offering a J1. A 3 year commitment is not a long time.
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