A. Purpose and Background

Prior to 1981, the United States required graduates of foreign medical schools licensed and practicing medicine in the United States to have passed the Visa Qualifying Examination (VQE) in order to immigrate as a practicing (clinical) physician. To address an immediate need for physicians and avoid bureaucratic delays, Congress eliminated this requirement in 1981 [1] At that time, the VQE was known as Parts I and II of the National Board of Medical Examiners examination. for certain foreign medical graduate physicians as part of a new special immigrant category. [2] See Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1981, Pub. L. 97-116, 95 Stat. 1611 (December 29, 1981). This program has no sunset date.

B. Legal Authorities

INA 101(a)(27)(H) – Special immigrant physicians

INA 203(b)(4) Certain special immigrants

INA 245; 8 CFR 245 – Adjustment of status of nonimmigrant to that of person admitted for permanent residence

C. Eligibility Requirements

To adjust to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status as a special immigrant physician, an applicant must meet the eligibility requirements shown in the table below.

Special Immigrant Physician Adjustment of Status

Eligibility Requirements

The applicant has been inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled into the United States.

The applicant is physically present in the United States at the time of filing and adjudication of an adjustment application.

The applicant is eligible to receive an immigrant visa because the applicant is the beneficiary of an approved Form I-360 classifying him or her as a special immigrant physician.

The applicant had an immigrant visa immediately available when he or she filed the adjustment of status application [3] See Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 3, Filing Instructions, Section B, Definition of “Properly Filed” [7 USCIS-PM A.3(B)]. and at the time of final adjudication. [4] See Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 6, Adjudicative Review, Section C, Verify Visa Availability [7 USCIS-PM A.6(C)]. For information on Visa Availability and Priority Dates, see the DOS Visa Bulletin.

The applicant is not subject to any applicable bars to adjustment of status. [5] See INA 245(c). See Part B, 245(a) Adjustment [7 USCIS-PM B].

The applicant is admissible to the United States or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief. [6] For more information, see Volume 8, Admissibility [8 USCIS-PM] and Volume 9, Waivers [9 USCIS-PM].

The applicant merits the favorable exercise of discretion. [7] See INA 245(a). For more information, see Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures [7 USCIS-PM A] and Part B, 245(a) Adjustment [7 USCIS-PM B].

1. Eligibility to Receive an Immigrant Visa [8] See Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 6, Adjudicative Review [7 USCIS-PM A.6] and Part B, 245(a) Adjustment, Chapter 2, Eligibility Requirements, Section C, Eligible to Receive an Immigrant Visa [7 USCIS-PM B.2(C)].

To be eligible to receive an immigrant visa to adjust status as a special immigrant physician, the principal applicant must be classified as a special immigrant physician by USCIS. The applicant must obtain such classification by filing a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360). [9] See Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360).

Requirements for classification as a special immigrant physician include:

Graduation from a foreign medical school or licensure as practicing physician in a foreign country;

Full and permanent licensure to practice medicine in a U.S. state on January 9, 1978, and practicing medicine in a state on that date;

Admission to the United States before January 10, 1978, as a J or H nonimmigrant;

Continuous presence in the United States since that admission in the practice or study of medicine.

The special immigrant physician must submit evidence to establish these requirements as part of filing the Form I-360 petition.

Verifying the Underlying Basis to Adjust Status and Determining Ongoing Eligibility [10] For more information, see Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 6, Adjudicative Review [7 USCIS-PM A.6].

The special immigrant physician petition should already be adjudicated and approved when the officer adjudicates the adjustment application. USCIS does not re-adjudicate the special immigrant physician petition at the time of the adjudication of the adjustment application. However, the officer should ensure that the applicant remains classified as a special immigrant physician and thus is eligible to adjust as a special immigrant physician. As a result, there may be instances when USCIS may require the applicant to provide additional evidence to show he or she continues to be classified as a special immigrant physician. In other words, the officer must verify the status of any underlying immigrant petition that forms the basis for adjustment.

2. Bars to Adjustment

Certain adjustment bars do not apply to special immigrant physicians and their derivatives. [11] See INA 245(c)(2) and INA 245(c)(8). If these special immigrants fall under any other adjustment bar, however, they are not eligible to adjust status. [12] See INA 245(c). For more information on the bars to adjustment, see Part B, 245(a) Adjustment [7 USCIS-PM B].

3. Admissibility and Waiver Requirements

In general, an applicant who is inadmissible to the United States may only obtain LPR status if he or she obtains a waiver or other form of relief, if available. [13] See INA 212(a) for the specific grounds of inadmissibility. In general, if a ground of inadmissibility applies, an applicant must apply for a waiver or other form of relief to overcome that inadmissibility. [14] See Volume 8, Admissibility [8 USCIS-PM] and Volume 9, Waivers [9 USCIS-PM]. See Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (Form I-601) and Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States after Deportation or Removal (Form I-212). If a waiver or other form of relief is granted, USCIS may approve the application to adjust status if the applicant is otherwise eligible.

The following table specifies which grounds of inadmissibility apply and which do not apply to applicants seeking LPR status based on the special immigrant physician classification.

Applicability of Grounds of Inadmissibility:

Special Immigrant Physicians

Ground of Inadmissibility

Applies

Exempt or

Not Applicable

INA 212(a)(1) – Health-Related

X

INA 212(a)(2) – Crime-Related

X

INA 212(a)(3) Security-Related

X

INA 212(a)(4)Public Charge

X

INA 212(a)(5) Labor Certification and Qualifications for Certain Immigrants

X

INA 212(a)(6) – Illegal Entrants and Immigration Violators

X

INA 212(a)(7)(A) Documentation Requirements for Immigrants

X

INA 212(a)(8) – Ineligibility for Citizenship

X

INA 212(a)(9) Foreign Nationals Previously Removed

X

INA 212(a)(10) Practicing Polygamists, Guardians Required to Accompany Helpless Persons, International Child Abductors, Unlawful Voters, and Former Citizens who Renounced Citizenship to Avoid Taxation

X

4. Treatment of Family Members

The spouse or child (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of a special immigrant physician, if otherwise eligible, may accompany or follow-to-join the principal applicant. [15] See INA 101(a)(27)(C) and INA 203(d). For the definition of child, see INA 101(b)(1). As derivative applicants, the spouse and child may apply to adjust status under the same immigrant category and priority date as the principal applicant.

D. Documentation and Evidence

An applicant should submit the following documentation to adjustment status as a special immigrant physician:

Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485), with the correct fee;

Copy of the approval notice (Form I-797) for the principal applicant’s special immigrant physician petition; [16] See Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360).

Two passport-style photographs;

Biographic Information Sheet (Form G-325A), if the applicant is 14 through 79 years of age;

Copy of government-issued identity document with photograph;

Copy of birth certificate;

Copy of passport page with nonimmigrant visa (if applicable);

Copy of passport page with admission or parole stamp (if applicable);

Copy of Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94) or copy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) admission or parole stamp on the travel document (if applicable); [17] Foreign nationals admitted to the United States by CBP at an airport or seaport after April 30, 2013, may be issued an electronic Form I-94 by CBP instead of a paper Form I-94. Such foreign nationals may visit the CBP website to obtain a paper version of an electronic Form I-94. CBP does not charge a fee for this service.

Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693); [18] The applicant may submit Form I-693 together with Form I-485 or later at USCIS’ request. See the USCIS website for more information. For more information on when to submit Form I-693, see Volume 8, Admissibility, Part B, Health-Related Grounds of Inadmissibility, Chapter 4, Review of Medical Examination Documentation [8 USCIS-PM B.4].

Certified police and court records of criminal charges, arrests, or convictions (if applicable);

Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (Form I-601) or other form of relief (if applicable); and

Documentation of past or present J-1 or J-2 nonimmigrant status, including proof of compliance with or waiver of the 2-year foreign residence requirement under INA 212(e) (if applicable).

In addition, a spouse or child who is filing as a derivative applicant should submit the following:

A copy of documentation showing relationship to the principal applicant, such as a marriage certificate or adoption decree (if applicable); and

A copy of the approval or receipt notice (Form I-797) for the principal applicant’s Form I-485 or a copy of the principal applicant’s permanent resident card (Form I-551) (if applicable and not filing together with the principal applicant).

E. Adjudication [19] For more information, see Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 6, Adjudicative Review [7 USCIS-PM A.6].

1. Filing

An applicant seeking adjustment of status as a special immigrant physician may file his or her adjustment application with USCIS after USCIS approves the special immigrant petition [20] See Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360). (as long as the petition is still valid), provided:

USCIS has jurisdiction over the adjustment application; [21] For more information, see Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 3, Filing Instructions, Section D, Jurisdictions [7 USCIS-PM A.3(D)]. and

The visa availability requirements are met. [22] The applicant must have an immigrant visa immediately available when he or she filed the adjustment of status application and at the time of final adjudication. See Section C, Eligibility Requirements [7 USCIS-PM F.7(C)].

These applicants may not file an adjustment application concurrently with Form I-360.

2. Interview

The officer must schedule the applicant for an in-person interview at the appropriate field office and transfer jurisdiction to that field office for final adjudication in cases where:

The officer cannot make a decision based on the evidence of record; or

The applicant does not meet the criteria for an interview waiver. [23] For more information, see Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 5, Interview Guidelines [7 USCIS-PM A.5].

3. Decision

Approval

The officer must determine that the applicant meets all the eligibility requirements as well as merits the favorable exercise of discretion before approving the application to adjust status as a special immigrant physician or family member. [24] See INA 245(a). For more information, see Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures [7 USCIS-PM A] and Part B, 245(a) Adjustment [7 USCIS-PM B]. If the application for adjustment of status is approvable, the officer must determine if a visa is available at the time of final adjudication. [25] For more information, see Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 6, Adjudicative Review, Section C, Verify Visa Availability [7 USCIS-PM A.6(C)].

If approved, USCIS assigns the following codes of admission to applicants adjusting under this category: 

Classes of Applicants and Codes of Admission

Applicant

Code of Admission

Special Immigrant Physician

SJ6

Spouse of Immigrant Physician (SJ6)

SJ7

Child of Immigrant Physician (SJ6)

SJ7

The applicant becomes an LPR as of the date of approval of the adjustment application. [26] The date of approval is shown in the USCIS approval notice mailed to the applicant; that date is also shown on the actual Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551) the applicant receives after adjustment approval.

Denial

If the officer determines that the applicant is ineligible for adjustment, the officer must deny the adjustment application. The officer must provide the applicant a written reason for the denial. [27] See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(19) and 8 CFR 103.3(a). Although there are no appeal rights for the denial of an adjustment application, the applicant may file a motion to reopen or reconsider. The denial notice should include instructions for filing a Notice of Appeal or Motion (Form I-290B).

Footnotes


1. [^]

At that time, the VQE was known as Parts I and II of the National Board of Medical Examiners examination.

2. [^]

See Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1981, Pub. L. 97-116, 95 Stat. 1611 (December 29, 1981).

3. [^]

See Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 3, Filing Instructions, Section B, Definition of “Properly Filed” [7 USCIS-PM A.3(B)].

4. [^]

See Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 6, Adjudicative Review, Section C, Verify Visa Availability [7 USCIS-PM A.6(C)]. For information on Visa Availability and Priority Dates, see the DOS Visa Bulletin.

5. [^]

See INA 245(c). See Part B, 245(a) Adjustment [7 USCIS-PM B].

6. [^]

For more information, see Volume 8, Admissibility [8 USCIS-PM] and Volume 9, Waivers [9 USCIS-PM].

7. [^]

See INA 245(a). For more information, see Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures [7 USCIS-PM A] and Part B, 245(a) Adjustment [7 USCIS-PM B].

8. [^]

See Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 6, Adjudicative Review [7 USCIS-PM A.6] and Part B, 245(a) Adjustment, Chapter 2, Eligibility Requirements, Section C, Eligible to Receive an Immigrant Visa [7 USCIS-PM B.2(C)].

9. [^]

See Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360).

10. [^]

For more information, see Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 6, Adjudicative Review [7 USCIS-PM A.6].

12. [^]

See INA 245(c). For more information on the bars to adjustment, see Part B, 245(a) Adjustment [7 USCIS-PM B].

13. [^]

See INA 212(a) for the specific grounds of inadmissibility.

14. [^]

See Volume 8, Admissibility [8 USCIS-PM] and Volume 9, Waivers [9 USCIS-PM]. See Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (Form I-601) and Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States after Deportation or Removal (Form I-212).

15. [^]

See INA 101(a)(27)(C) and INA 203(d). For the definition of child, see INA 101(b)(1).

16. [^]

See Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360).

17. [^]

Foreign nationals admitted to the United States by CBP at an airport or seaport after April 30, 2013, may be issued an electronic Form I-94 by CBP instead of a paper Form I-94. Such foreign nationals may visit the CBP website to obtain a paper version of an electronic Form I-94. CBP does not charge a fee for this service.

18. [^]

The applicant may submit Form I-693 together with Form I-485 or later at USCIS’ request. See the USCIS website for more information. For more information on when to submit Form I-693, see Volume 8, Admissibility, Part B, Health-Related Grounds of Inadmissibility, Chapter 4, Review of Medical Examination Documentation [8 USCIS-PM B.4].

19. [^]

For more information, see Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 6, Adjudicative Review [7 USCIS-PM A.6].

20. [^]

See Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360).

21. [^]

For more information, see Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 3, Filing Instructions, Section D, Jurisdictions [7 USCIS-PM A.3(D)].

22. [^]

The applicant must have an immigrant visa immediately available when he or she filed the adjustment of status application and at the time of final adjudication. See Section C, Eligibility Requirements [7 USCIS-PM F.7(C)].

23. [^]

For more information, see Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 5, Interview Guidelines [7 USCIS-PM A.5].

24. [^]

See INA 245(a). For more information, see Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures [7 USCIS-PM A] and Part B, 245(a) Adjustment [7 USCIS-PM B].

25. [^]

For more information, see Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 6, Adjudicative Review, Section C, Verify Visa Availability [7 USCIS-PM A.6(C)].

26. [^]

The date of approval is shown in the USCIS approval notice mailed to the applicant; that date is also shown on the actual Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551) the applicant receives after adjustment approval.