Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP

USCIS Issues Guidance on Education, Training, Experience Requirements for Foreign Physicians


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued a memorandum providing guidance on adjudication of the I-140 Petition for Alien Worker filed for certain physicians. In particular, the memo provides guidance to Immigration Services Officers (ISOs), formerly known as Information Immigration Officers (IIOs) or Adjudications Officers (AOs), on determining whether a foreign medical degree (MD) is the equivalent of a U.S. MD, and thus constitutes an advanced degree for EB-2 purposes.

The memorandum also addresses how to determine whether a foreign physician has met the education, training, and experience requirements of labor certification and licensure in the area of intended employment. The memo clarifies that all EB-2 and EB-3 physicians must overcome the “unqualified physician” provisions of INA § 212(a)(5)(B) at the time of the permanent job offer.

The memo notes that the U.S. is one of the few countries where medical school applicants must obtain a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite to admission to medical school. As a result, a U.S. MD is considered to be an advanced degree. In many other countries, USCIS noted, a person may be admitted to medical school directly out of high school. In these instances, the program of study for the foreign medical degree is longer in length (generally 5-7 years in duration) than the program for a less specialized foreign bachelor’s degree (generally 3-4 years in duration.)

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