H-1B Guidance for Medical Residents/Clinical Fellows
As we enter a new match and hiring season for medical residents and fellows, the following advice is intended to provide guidance for assisting those physicians who will need H-1B status in order to pursue their programs at Emory. As match season runs very late in terms of complying with USCIS application processing times, it is very important that departments process H-1B applicants efficiently so as to avoid any unnecessary delays in start dates for your residents and fellows.
The Georgia Composite Medical Board (GCMB) now requires SAVE verification for all persons applying for either a temporary medical training permit or a full medical license. SAVE verification is a process by which entities issuing “public benefits” can verify through a database the legitimacy of a person’s non-immigrant status in the U.S. The system is similar to E-Verify. The implementation of this new requirement has created some major challenges. In preparation for the upcoming year, we have worked to implement a protocol that will alleviate some of the problems experienced during the previous years. However, many of the delays in clearing the SAVE system stem from circumstances beyond our control. The SAVE database is frequently not updated with information in a timely manner. When this is the circumstance, neither ISSP nor GCMB can expedite clearance through SAVE.
Prior to issuing an H-1B approval for a physician, USCIS requires that the applicant be able to show proper licensure for the position, including the medical training permit or medical license. Essentially, a “Catch-22” situation is created. To overcome this obstacle, we have established a protocol that will allow us to file the H-1B with a letter from GCMB indicating that the permit issuance is contingent upon the issuance of the H-1B. The protocol is in keeping with guidance issued by USCIS to address these “Catch-22” situations.
Steps to Processing H-1Bs for medical residents and fellows
- Request a prevailing wage and LCA from Janice Parmer. Instructions for the prevailing wage process can be found here.
- Tips for a successful prevailing wage determination/LCA process:
- Include the PG-Y of the resident/fellow you are sponsoring.
- Request the LCA for the full length of time of the residency or fellowship program (up to 3 years). This will eliminate the LCA step for future extensions of status.
- Use last year’s salary when making the request, with the understanding that the actual salary will be slightly higher.
- Begin this process immediately. You do not have to know the name of the candidate you are filling the position with. You can request a prevailing wage knowing only the job description and the minimum qualifications. (Once you know the name of the candidate that will match to the prevailing wage you requested, notify Janice Parmer to request the LCA for the candidate.)
- For H-1B extension requests, check the validity dates on the previous LCA. Some LCA’s may have validity periods longer than the H-1B validity period. For those H-1B’s with LCA periods that will encompass the extension request time, you do not need to obtain a new LCA for the extension filing.
2. As soon as you have the candidate for your program, request the candidate to submit the necessary documentation to you, according to the H-1B submission checklist.
3. Advise your candidates that they must submit this documentation to you as soon as possible in order to avoid delays in starting their program.
4. Do not delay having the H-1B candidate submit the request for a medical training permit. The department should ensure these are submitted to GCMB in a timely manner.
- When submitting the training permit application, you MUST include a memo addressed to Phyllis White at GCMB instructing her that this is an H-1B applicant and to please issue a letter for use in the H-1B application. Phyllis will then e-mail ISSP a letter documenting that the application is complete, except for SAVE verification. Although GCMB will not accept applications prior to March 1st for processing the temporary training permit, you are permitted to submit a complete application as early as January 1st, which Phyllis will review for purposes of issuing the letter for the H-1B filing, She will then return the application and fee to the program coordinator who will then be instructed to resubmit on or after March 1st.
- Once the training permit application has been submitted, notify the GME office by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Submit your Peoplesoft request to ISSP, along with your supporting documents. We will be copied on the LCA and the letter from GCMB.
6. Best Practice Timeline For Initial Residents/Fellows
- Remember that fees have increased:
- I-129 Application fee: $325
- I-907 Premium Processing Fee: $1,225
- Fraud Detection Fee: $500
- In order to clear SAVE in a timely manner for training permit issuance, premium processing will be required in almost all circumstances. Any petition filed without premium processing may experiencing significant delays in processing, up to several months.
- January/February: Submit Prevailing Wage Request
- Processing Time: 30-60 days
- Match Day- March 16, 2012
- Notify Janice Parmer immediately of candidates that need H-1B so she can request the LCA based on the prevailing wage that you previously requested.
- LCA will take 10-14 days to process.
- Immediately notify your candidates to submit training permit applications and documents as listed on the submission checklist to you. (Set deadlines for them to turn this documentation in to you- no later than 2 weeks from match day.)
- Once the training permit application is submitted, notify the GME office by email email@example.com.
- Submit training permit application to Phyllis White at GCMB with memo requesting letter referenced above.
- April 1 to April 30, (earlier if possible): Submit Peoplesoft Request for H-1B status and complete packet of supporting materials, including fees, to Terry Eiesland at ISSP no later than April 30. The earlier that you submit your applications, the greater the likelihood your candidates will be able to start their programs on time.
- Await approvals. If packets are received by April 30, our internal goal is to have candidates with July 1 start dates filed by May 30.
- Once filed, premium processing petitions take 15 calendar days to adjudicate. All premium processing petitions will be filed with return Fed Ex envelopes to alleviate mail time. The Fed Ex charges will be posted to your department’s smart key account.
- Upon approval, a copy of the I-797 approval notice will be submitted to Phyllis White at GCMB to assist with SAVE verification.
7. Notes for out-of-country candidates
- File your petitions as soon as possible. Candidates outside the U.S. will have the added burden of needing to make a consular appointment for a visa stamp and clearing various security checks.
- Immediately upon entering the U.S., your residents should send all entry documents (visa stamp, I-94, passport, copy of I-797) to Phyllis White at GCMB for SAVE verification.
8. General Reminders:
- If you have a candidate with an H-1B approval who has presented for employment as of their approved start date, but has not been issued a training permit for clinical work, you must employ and pay them as of the start date on the approval notice or date of entry to U.S. However, they will NOT be eligible for clinical work. You should plan to make arrangements to keep them occupied in non-clinical activities until the training permit is able to be issued.
- It is imperative that you are proactive in facilitating this process for your candidates. Please set and keep firm deadlines for submission of documents.
- Step 3 of the USMLE is a requirement to receive the H-1B. Any candidates who have not taken and passed this test prior to match day will have a lot of difficulty securing an H-1B in time to start a program July 1.
- If you have candidates who you have selected pre-match or fellows that you have already made placement offers to, please begin the H-1B process immediately. It serves no purpose to wait.
- If you are processing extensions for residents/fellows already in H-1B status, please check the LCA filed last year to see if it still has validity. We may be able to use that LCA in filing the next year’s H-1B.
- USCIS is increasingly becoming more stringent on the length of time given to medical residents and fellows on H-1B approvals. We will continue to request the full 3 years; however, you should expect approvals for only one year.
- Please make sure that any residents or fellows that are either new to Emory or new to H-1B status attend orientation at ISSP within two weeks of their arrival on campus.
We appreciate your cooperation in helping to make this a smooth filing year. Each year the number of internationals coming to Emory increases, as do regulation changes from USCIS and DOL. By being proactive, we can help aid the transition for your residents and fellows coming to Emory. However, given the constraints of the SAVE system, the late date of Match Day, and the processing timelines that USCIS implements, you should expect some challenges along the way. If you have questions about the process, please e-mail the ISSS advisor responsible for H-1B resident and fellow filings, Derek Baran at firstname.lastname@example.org.