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Hello all!

Here is my predicament: both my wife and I were born and raised in Alberta, Canada and my wife and I applied to medical school 5 years ago. We did not get into a Canadian school, but did get into an American medical school. We graduated this year and she matched into Radiology and I matched into family medicine, both at the same academic, big 10 University in the midwest. (We did apply into the Canadian match, but only I got interviews for Family Med; of course, she going into such a competitive field did not get any interviews. Because we wanted to stay together, and because we have a baby on the way, I gave up my interviews in Canada so we could stay together)

We ranked places that sponsor the H1b Visa first but did not get into them. The place where we matched offers only a J1, even though it is a big, academic University center! Luckily, we have the F1 extension (OPT status) covering us for our first year of residency. After that though, we will need a Visa.

Here are some of my problems:

1)Family med is only 3 years whereas Radiology is 5 years. Is there any way I can avoid being sent back to Canada to serve a 2 year requirement?

2)Do you know of institutions making exceptions for such people as us, and sponsoring for the H1b Visa, even though the policy says they sponsor J1 only?

3)I am really concerned I might not even get the J1 Visa when my time comes to need one. The powers that be in Alberta say that, to be eligible for a statement of need, an applicant must have shown that they tried doing so going through Carms first; I however, did not go to my Canadian interviews, since my wife did not get any! If I did go to these interviews, I would have had to have ranked them, and surely matched since so many spots for family med go unfilled-thus seperating myself form my wife!

ANY advice would greatly be appreciated from anyone with insight on this matter.
 

rox

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I really have no advice, but all what I have are my best wishes for you and your wife to stay together and away from any visa issues. Good luck!
 

aProgDirector

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1)Family med is only 3 years whereas Radiology is 5 years. Is there any way I can avoid being sent back to Canada to serve a 2 year requirement?
This is easy. Your wife gets a J visa. You get a J2 visa -- which is the spousal visa attached to her J visa. A J2 is a full work visa. You can do ANYTHING for 5 years, as long as she does not lose her visa.

2)Do you know of institutions making exceptions for such people as us, and sponsoring for the H1b Visa, even though the policy says they sponsor J1 only?
Yes. You should ask. Perhaps ask several people. If you get an H1, you BOTH need H1b's. Unlike the J2 visa, the H4 visa (which a spouse gets) is a non-working visa.

3)I am really concerned I might not even get the J1 Visa when my time comes to need one. The powers that be in Alberta say that, to be eligible for a statement of need, an applicant must have shown that they tried doing so going through Carms first; I however, did not go to my Canadian interviews, since my wife did not get any! If I did go to these interviews, I would have had to have ranked them, and surely matched since so many spots for family med go unfilled-thus seperating myself form my wife!
No idea on this one. We have had several canadians on J visas and never had a problem, although the process seems very slow in Canada (compared with other countries)
 
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oh wow, thanks 'aprogdirector'. At the risk of sounding so naive, I really had no idea about this J2 Visa. This makes me feel a little bit better since my wife will have an easier time getting the J1 Visa from Alberta than me (since she tried going through Carms but was not even offered an interview).

I really appreciate all your input. :)

Anyone else have any other advice?
 

docbill

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This is easy. Your wife gets a J visa. You get a J2 visa -- which is the spousal visa attached to her J visa. A J2 is a full work visa. You can do ANYTHING for 5 years, as long as she does not lose her visa.


No idea on this one. We have had several canadians on J visas and never had a problem, although the process seems very slow in Canada (compared with other countries)
aPD, thanks again for being on here and answering questions. Always good to get it from a reliable source.

Just checking if I got this correct. If a married couple, both members, applying for residency, The one with shorter residency tract can use a J2 visa for his or her residency? Or do they have to apply for a J1 separately? Do both members have to do the 2 year home country requirements upon completion. Can the J2 visa holder moonlight?
 

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aPD, thanks again for being on here and answering questions. Always good to get it from a reliable source.

Just checking if I got this correct. If a married couple, both members, applying for residency, The one with shorter residency tract can use a J2 visa for his or her residency? Or do they have to apply for a J1 separately? Do both members have to do the 2 year home country requirements upon completion. Can the J2 visa holder moonlight?
You are correct.

The longer residency holder gets the J1. The spouse (you need to be married for this to work. Engaged will not work) will get a J2.

A J2 is a full work visa. You can do anything on it -- residency, moonlight, real job. Anything.

The 2 year exemption only attaches to the J1 holder.

Only problem is: if the J1 applies for a J waiver job, I'm not sure what happens to the spouse. When you get a J waiver job, my understanding (based on no real world experience) is that your J visa is converted to an H1b during the time you are committed to the J waiver spot. If so, then the J2 visa stops, and the H4 visa (which is the spousal visa for the H1b) is a non-working visa and is useless for your purposes.

So, if all that is correct (which is not clear), then if your spouse applied for a J waiver spot, you'd need to find an H1b sponsor. Of course, you could do that anytime after you finish your residency while she is still in hers (so it would behoove you to think ahead)

if your plan is to return to your home country after training, then there is no problem. You can get a job after residency on the J2, when she finishes you both return home.
 

aProgDirector

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So, it turns out that things aren't quite as rosy as I thought. As usual, the devil is in the details.

It is absolutely true that you can do a residency on a J2 visa. However, there is a big problem with this plan. In order to work on a J2, it turns out that you need an EAD also. That's essentially a work permit. Why you need this, I have no idea. If you apply for it on a J2, you'll get it. The problem is that you cannot apply for it until you physically have your J2 visa and are in the US. Since your J2 is attached to your spouse's J1, you can't actually come to the US until about 30 days prior to your work starting.

Once you apply for an EAD, it can take anywhere from 3-6 months to get it. You can't even call until 90 days have elapsed to check on the status of your EAD. There is no "expedited processing" like there is for H visas.

So, although this pathway works, it virtually guarantees that you will not be able to start on time. You might start months late. Your program is under no requirement to hold your spot for you. There is no way to know how long the EAD would take to come through.

Speak to your future GME office. Perhaps J2/EAD processing times are lower where you will be. If not, your only options are both getting J1's, and you'd need to see if you could switch to a J2 after finishing your residency (or you could complete a 2 year fellowship). I sense a visa lawyer in your near future.
 

docbill

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So, it turns out that things aren't quite as rosy as I thought. As usual, the devil is in the details.

It is absolutely true that you can do a residency on a J2 visa. However, there is a big problem with this plan. In order to work on a J2, it turns out that you need an EAD also. That's essentially a work permit. Why you need this, I have no idea. If you apply for it on a J2, you'll get it. The problem is that you cannot apply for it until you physically have your J2 visa and are in the US. Since your J2 is attached to your spouse's J1, you can't actually come to the US until about 30 days prior to your work starting.

Once you apply for an EAD, it can take anywhere from 3-6 months to get it. You can't even call until 90 days have elapsed to check on the status of your EAD. There is no "expedited processing" like there is for H visas.

So, although this pathway works, it virtually guarantees that you will not be able to start on time. You might start months late. Your program is under no requirement to hold your spot for you. There is no way to know how long the EAD would take to come through.

Speak to your future GME office. Perhaps J2/EAD processing times are lower where you will be. If not, your only options are both getting J1's, and you'd need to see if you could switch to a J2 after finishing your residency (or you could complete a 2 year fellowship). I sense a visa lawyer in your near future.
Thanks for looking in to it and reporting. If 1 spouse member starts 1 year ahead of the other then it shouldn't be a problem to get EAD processing etc.
 

docbill

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APD, you have been a great resource.

Some thoughts: I am actually already in the process of applying for an EAD card. I filed my application back in early January with the aid of the GME office at my medical school. This was part of the process for my (and my wife's) being able to extend our F1 student visa (the visa we came to the US to go to med school) into the 1-year OPT status that should have us covered for first year of residency.

As such, we would apply for J1 (in my case J2) status for the start of our second year of residency.

In any case, my question is this: once we get our EAD card (which I shall get very soon), will I have to apply for it again next year when it is time for us to apply for J1(J2) visa status for second year? Or is it the case that once we have our EAD card, we can use the same one?

Any info would greatly be appreciated!
Why don't you apply for H1b instead of a J1. Unless your hospital doesn't sponsor H1b.
 
Jun 29, 2009
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My program won't sponsor an H1.

APD, you have been a great resource.

Some thoughts: I am actually already in the process of applying for an EAD card. I filed my application back in early January with the aid of the GME office at my medical school. This was part of the process for my (and my wife's) being able to extend our F1 student visa (the visa we came to the US to go to med school) into the 1-year OPT status that will have us covered for first year of residency.

As such, we would apply for J1 (in my case J2) status for the start of our second year of residency.

In any case, my question is this: once we get our EAD card (which I shall get very soon), will I have to apply for it again next year when it is time for us to apply for J1(J2) visa status for second year? Or is it the case that once we have our EAD card, we can use the same one?

Any info would greatly be appreciated!
 
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I'm glad it worked out for you!

Here is my problem...hopefully someone has a solution to this or some insight

I have matched into a family med program in the u.s. And since i'm a cnadian citizen from alberta, I'm having a problem getting statement of need. People that issue the statement of need are saying i'm not eligible for a statement of need since I didn't go through Carms (I did not know of this requirement at all). The only requirement that I did know of was the MCCEE which I've passed.

What do I do?

Someone please help!!!
 

aProgDirector

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In any case, my question is this: once we get our EAD card (which I shall get very soon), will I have to apply for it again next year when it is time for us to apply for J1(J2) visa status for second year? Or is it the case that once we have our EAD card, we can use the same one?
I have no idea. When you find out, please post the answer here.
 
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Yes; today I found out that with any change of status (OPT-->J2) I would have to reapply for the EAD card. (J1 visa holders do not require this EAD card)

As you had stated earlier "apd", although I will be on OPT status next year, if my wife were to apply for a J1 and get it, I would be on the J2. HOWEVER, I cannot apply for the EAD card UNTIL my wife is successful in getting the J1 visa. Meaning that I would have to wait up to 3 months after my wife's getting the J1 to even be able to apply for the EAD card, (because I can't work as a J2 visa holder without the EAD card).

Needless to say, no residency program would allow such an extended period of time off. I guess I am back to square one: hoping that my province will support my J1 application after my OPT year or that my institution will sponsor the H1b instead. (on a side note: I spoke with the GME office of my residency program about their "J1-only policy"; they stated that they do currently have faculty on staff who are on an H1b however they are either attendings or researchers...no residents or fellows. Apparently their budget cannot allow it. I am really hoping that they make an exception for someone such as my wife and me when the time comes)
 
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docbill

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Yes; today I found out that with any change of status (OPT-->J2) I would have to reapply for the EAD card. (J1 visa holders do not require this EAD card)

As you had stated earlier "apd", although I will be on OPT status next year, if my wife were to apply for a J1 and get it, I would be on the J2. HOWEVER, I cannot apply for the EAD card UNTIL my wife is successful in getting the J1 visa. Meaning that I would have to wait up to 3 months after my wife's getting the J1 to even be able to apply for the EAD card, (because I can't work as a J2 visa holder without the EAD card).

Needless to say, no residency program would allow such an extended period of time off. I guess I am back to square one: hoping that my province will support my J1 application after my OPT year or that my institution will sponsor the H1b instead. (on a side note: I spoke with the GME office of my residency program about their "J1-only policy"; they stated that they do currently have faculty on staff who are on an H1b however they are either attendings or researchers...no residents or fellows. Apparently their budget cannot allow it. I am really hoping that they make an exception for someone such as my wife and me when the time comes)
Why would you not qualify for J1 letter from your province. With exception of Alberta, as long as your program is a recognized residency program you should no have too much trouble getting a J1 letter and J1 visa via Canada.
 

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I'm glad it worked out for you!

Here is my problem...hopefully someone has a solution to this or some insight

I have matched into a family med program in the u.s. And since i'm a cnadian citizen from alberta, I'm having a problem getting statement of need. People that issue the statement of need are saying i'm not eligible for a statement of need since I didn't go through Carms (I did not know of this requirement at all). The only requirement that I did know of was the MCCEE which I've passed.

What do I do?

Someone please help!!!
I don't know if you can get around this. I would appeal the decision and see what they say. Or just check with your residency program if you can start off cycle. Do step 3 and apply for H1b if they offer it. It is unfortunate that Alberta reduces the number of IMG spots and does this.
 
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Why would you not qualify for J1 letter from your province. With exception of Alberta, as long as your program is a recognized residency program you should no have too much trouble getting a J1 letter and J1 visa via Canada.
Because to get a letter of support for a J1 visa from Alberta, you have to have gone through the Carms match first. Both my wife and I applied through Carms; I got interview offers for family everywhere I applied and she received no interviews for radiology. (As such, she should be able to attain a J1 easily; however it might be harder for me since I was offered Canadian interviews but did not go to them!) I declined my interviews since our first priority was to stay together of course.

In the US, she received tons of radiology invites. We were hoping to match at a place that offered the H1, but unfortunately we couldn't.
 

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Probably dumb Idea#1:

Both of you apply for an F1/OPT for next year.

Starting early in the year, she applies for a J1, and gets it.

Now, she is on a J1 and you're on an OPT.

The question is, can you apply for the J2 EAD, while still working on your OPT?

I have no idea. Probably not -- you'll probably be told that you can hold only one visa at a time, and getting the J2 makes you "give up" the OPT immediately. But, who knows? Worth asking.
 

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Probably dumb idea #2:

IM in Canada is 4 years (I think). You'll need to do a fourth year, either in the US or back in Canada no matter what you do. So, simply plan to do a 2 year fellowship -- endo, rheum, critical care medicine, etc -- that way you'll both be 5 years. When you return to canada, you can either do general IM or your subspecialty field.
 
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Not dumb ideas at all!

However, I looked into idea #1 already. You cannot hold OPT while applying for J2. I would have to give up my OPT in order to apply.

As far as Idea# 2, I actually wish to do FM, not IM. But the idea is the same: I agree that I can maybe do a 2-year fellowship in Sports Medicine, etc...But the problem still remains the same: I need a J1, which Canada finds very hard to issue me since I did not go to my Canadian interviews, (since my wife did not receive any). It seems there are no sort of provisions made in these situations for couples who are applying for residency. For whatever reason, Canada thinks it is perfectly acceptable that I leave my wife to finish her residency in the US while I come to Canada to complete mine.
 

aProgDirector

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Ok then.

Go to your residency on an OPT visa.

Tell your PD that your PGY-2 year will need to be delayed by 3-4 months while you sort outr your visa issues. With enough notice, and assuming they like you, this may not be a problem.

Give up your OPT at the end of PGY-1, and apply for a J2/EAD

Start PGY-2 3-6 months late, but the schedule is built to deal with this.

Since her residency is longer than yours, the delay doesn't really matter (although it will make it more difficult to get a fellowship).
 

docbill

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That really sucks about Alberta and their policy. I sometimes wonder who is running the show up there and who is making these decisions. YET there is still a shortage of clinicians and it is only going to get worse.
 

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Moral of the Story:
#1: It really sucks being a Canadian citizen
#2: Canadian medical regulating authorities both Federal and Provincial are the biggest concrete-thinking algorithm following jerks in the world.

The ironic thing if you were a resident 500 miles east in Sask or west in B.C. you could get that letter.

Possible solutions:
Know anybody in any other province that you could claim residency? Address or family or friends that would let you use their address to claim residency? then get that letter from anothe Province?

Are you a dual citizen or your parents a citizen of a European or Asian country? Then you get ironically apply for a J-1 from that country and would be easier than going through the bone head Canadians?

Use the TN US-Canada Free Trade visa. Do the First year FM residency on F-1 OPT then take a year or two doing research either a MSc Public Health if your residency has that or PHd with the FM residency.
TN Visa allows you to do research for up to 3 years.
While your doing research you apply for the H1B to finish the last 2 years of the FM residency?
Or while you're doing research on the TN set up residency in a different Canadian province,get a different Drivers Licence to prove this then apply for the J-! for the last 2 years through the different Canadian Province.

Apply for Green Card Lottery

And remember don't blame the US for any of this....the blame lies directly at the feet of the Canadian regulators who have absolutely no empathy or sympathy for people trying to become doctors and who find pleasure in screwing other people's lives up and who treat people who want to become doctors like criminals
It's good warning sign to stay away from practicing in Canada
 

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Sorry to hear about your plight. Im Canadian at a US schol and I had no idea that to be eligible for a statement of need you have to go through carms first!! I am pretty sure it's not on their website!

1-Call [] in Ottawa, at health canada. I am pretty sure they have done exceptions before and see if she can get you sponsorship from another province.

2- There are plenty of programs that usually do not sponsor for H1B and are willing to do it for a US grad. Dartmouth, UCSF, University of washington come to mind and i am sure there are more.
The problem is that once you are on a h1b it is program specific, so you are not allowed to move to another program

3- Offer to pay the costs of the H1B from your pocket!

Im sorry that's all I have. Good luck
 
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Are you a dual citizen or your parents a citizen of a European or Asian country? Then you get ironically apply for a J-1 from that country and would be easier than going through the bone head Canadians?
sorry to hijack the thread. Say that I have a dual citizenship from a country that is willing to give me a statement of need for any residency I want. Is it actually legal to do this when I had my f-1 and opt status on my Canadian passport.
Can I still go to Canada for the 2 year requirement if I do not want to practice in my dual citizenship country.
 

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sorry to hijack the thread. Say that I have a dual citizenship from a country that is willing to give me a statement of need for any residency I want. Is it actually legal to do this when I had my f-1 and opt status on my Canadian passport.
Can I still go to Canada for the 2 year requirement if I do not want to practice in my dual citizenship country.
Yes, it is legal to do this (get a J from a different country than your F)

However, you must return to the country that sponsored your J to satisfy the 2 year rule. Hence, if you get a J from another country, returning to Canada will not "count" towards your 2 year requirement.
 

docbill

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sorry to hijack the thread. Say that I have a dual citizenship from a country that is willing to give me a statement of need for any residency I want. Is it actually legal to do this when I had my f-1 and opt status on my Canadian passport.
Can I still go to Canada for the 2 year requirement if I do not want to practice in my dual citizenship country.
I thought you have to get the J1 letter from your last country you lived in. I guess it is not hard to say another country is your last place of residents, but I would rather get it from Canada.
 

docbill

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You are correct.

The longer residency holder gets the J1. The spouse (you need to be married for this to work. Engaged will not work) will get a J2.

A J2 is a full work visa. You can do anything on it -- residency, moonlight, real job. Anything.

The 2 year exemption only attaches to the J1 holder.

Only problem is: if the J1 applies for a J waiver job, I'm not sure what happens to the spouse. When you get a J waiver job, my understanding (based on no real world experience) is that your J visa is converted to an H1b during the time you are committed to the J waiver spot. If so, then the J2 visa stops, and the H4 visa (which is the spousal visa for the H1b) is a non-working visa and is useless for your purposes.
I believe the 2 year rule applies to anyone on J1 and J2. If J1 gets a waiver so does the J2 holder, if not then they both have to go back to their country for 2 years.
 

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I believe the 2 year rule applies to anyone on J1 and J2. If J1 gets a waiver so does the J2 holder, if not then they both have to go back to their country for 2 years.
Yes, I was wrong. This is a rule change. Used to be that J2 had no home country issues, but now it does. Hence the importance of checking anything legal with a lawyer.