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J-1 waiver and fellowship

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DMxyz

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Hi all,

I am considering doing an EMS fellowship that while ACMGE-regulated would require me to work as a part-time attending. The hospital system offering this position came up with the idea that they would petition for a J-1 waiver and I would spend the first year of the waiver in the fellowship, followed by two years as faculty on the waiver. Has anyone ever heard of this? Is this set-up (fellowship on waiver) possible? Only other option for me is O-1.
 

NotAProgDirector

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This is a really complicated question, and the right answer is "speak to a visa lawyer who knows what they are doing".

And free advice is worth exactly what you paid for it. That said:

I highly doubt that any GME office will be willing to have you as an ACGME resident on a J-1 waiver. I am almost certain that isn't allowed. J visas are for GME training -- you could extend your J visa to cover the fellowship. After that, you would be free to apply for a J waiver for a position, if you can find an employer who qualifies and is willing to do so, and if there are enough waivers to get one.

I don't know why the only other option is O-1, since you should be able to extend your J. If not, you might be able to switch from J-1 to O-1, but this requires documentation that you are of "extraordinary ability" which seems unlikely at this stage of your training. But, I've also heard that it's easy to get a couple of letters from people saying that you're great, and get an O-1. Even in this case, you would not qualify for a GC via the O-1 -- you will still need to return to your home country (or stay on the O-1 visa forever).
 

thehundredthone

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I highly doubt that any GME office will be willing to have you as an ACGME resident on a J-1 waiver. I am almost certain that isn't allowed. J visas are for GME training -- you could extend your J visa to cover the fellowship. After that, you would be free to apply for a J waiver for a position, if you can find an employer who qualifies and is willing to do so, and if there are enough waivers to get one.
One could technically be an attending on a waiver, and still be a fellow in training as long as they were satisfying the waiver requirements of work hours as an attending. But it is definitely a question that should be put to a visa lawyer.

I don't know why the only other option is O-1, since you should be able to extend your J. If not, you might be able to switch from J-1 to O-1, but this requires documentation that you are of "extraordinary ability" which seems unlikely at this stage of your training. But, I've also heard that it's easy to get a couple of letters from people saying that you're great, and get an O-1. Even in this case, you would not qualify for a GC via the O-1 -- you will still need to return to your home country (or stay on the O-1 visa forever).
A J1 extension requires an approval from the Department of State. Is that easy to get?
 

NotAProgDirector

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A J1 extension requires an approval from the Department of State. Is that easy to get?

Perhaps I misspoke / mistyped. A resident on a J visa for their residency can continue on a J visa for a fellowship. That's what I meant when I said the J visa could be extended. They would need a new statement of need for the fellowship. So it's really a new J visa.
 

DMxyz

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Unfortunately, there are some fellowships that cannot be completed on a J1, even though they are under the auspices of the ACGME. EMS is one of those fellowship, because it requires you to work (and bill) as a part-time attending. Same is true for many ophthy fellowships.
 

NotAProgDirector

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I see. Then for the OP, the O-1 is the best choice if they can get it. As mentioned it does not erase the HRR for your J-1. Once the fellowship is completed, you'll be stuck returning to your home country or getting a J waiver. Or perhaps the institution will offer the J waiver for the fellowship -- this is highly atypical and would be institution specific. So you'll simply need to ask.
 
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