The O Visa Alternative for Physicians
O visas. The O visa is commonly referred to as the "Super Star" visa, because it is granted to physicians and other professionals who can demonstrate "extraordinary ability" in their fields. For a physician, this means multiple publications and citations demonstrating preeminence in a particular area. The threshold for demonstrating extraordinary ability is very high.
Canadian Physicians. Canadian-educated physicians are not considered IMGs. They may obtain medical licenses in most U.S. states and obtain green cards based on their Canadian training and exams. However, they cannot obtain H-1B visas unless they have completed a U.S. qualifying exam, either the USMLE, NBME, or FLEX. Canadian physicians who have completed a U.S. exam can obtain H-1B visas and work in the U.S. in a matter of weeks. However, those who do not have a U.S. exam may have to wait up to two years to obtain a green card.
Strategies. For most IMGs, the road to a green card lies through an offer of employment - in particular, employment with a medical facility in an underserved area, if the IMG needs a J waiver. There are various organizations, publications, recruiters and web sites that list jobs. IMGs seeking waivers should identify hospitals in HPSAs and MUAs and contact them directly about employment.