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How Can a Dental Practice Sponsor a Foreign National to Work as a Dentist?

September 8, 2021

Question:  I would like to hire a foreign national to work as a dentist in my practice. What is the process from an U.S. immigration perspective?

Answer:  In order to work in the United States, a foreign national must have valid immigration status that allows employment. Generally, a foreign national cannot self-petition for work authorization, but must have a close relative or employer sponsor him or her. (One exception is foreign students, who receive one year of employment authorization after completing an educational program in the United States. This authorization does not require employer sponsorship and can be extended for an additional two years for graduates of STEM programs. Notably, this does not include dentistry.

The most-used type of visa status in the United States is the H-1B. To qualify, a foreign worker must have at least a bachelor’s degree (or U.S. equivalent) related to the field in which he or she will work, and be sponsored by a U.S. employer for a position that normally requires at least a four-year degree. For those providing hands-on patient care, a state license is also required. H-1B status is employer-sponsored, and by law, all fees and costs related to the process must be paid by the employer.

Employment-based immigration in the United States in employer-, location-, and position-specific, meaning that if any of these change during the course of employment, the employer may need to file and amendment petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS.) Employment does not remain at will; therefore, it can be terminated by the employee or employer at any time (the USCIS must be notified). Foreign nationals can hold more than one H-1B at a time if they work for more than one employer. With some exceptions, H-1B status can be held for a total of six years, and is granted in three-year increments.

Read the complete Q&A in the Journal of the Michigan Dental Association on page 20.

About the author:

Kate M. McCarroll of Kerr Russell Kate M. McCarroll has extensive experience in employment-related immigration law, including inbound/outbound immigration, Department of Labor/ Department of Homeland Security audits and I-9 compliance training. Kate has also handled matters involving asylum proceedings, family-based immigration, and criminal and inadmissibility issues.



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