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COVID-19: United States changes gear, restrict call for foreign medical professionals to only those with approved requests

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The United States of America has backtracked on its call for foreign medical professionals seeking to work in the United States to approach the US embassy in their countries for a visa appointment.

The new guideline, updated on the same website where the first guideline was released, has changed.

The new statement now reads that only those with “an approved U.S. non-immigrant or immigrant visa petition (I-129, I-140, or similar) or a certificate of eligibility in an approved exchange visitor program (DS-2019) to review the website of their nearest embassy or consulate for procedures to request a visa appointment.”

The earlier statement, however, reads that:

“We encourage medical professionals seeking to work in the United States on a work or exchange visitor, particularly those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19, to reach out to the nearest embassy or consulate to request a visa appointment.

But the updated statement reads:

We encourage medical professionals with an approved U.S. non-immigrant or immigrant visa petition (I-129, I-140, or similar) or a certificate of eligibility in an approved exchange visitor program (DS-2019), particularly those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19, to review the website of their nearest embassy or consulate for procedures to request a visa appointment.

Notice the words in red in both statements that updated the guidelines, which shows that the programme is not meant for all applicants but those with existing petitions.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service has this to say about Form I-29 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker), one of the requirements to qualify for visa appointment under the new terms:

“Petitioners use this form to file on behalf of a nonimmigrant worker to come to the United States temporarily to perform services or labor, or to receive training, as an H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, H-3, L-1, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1 or R-1 nonimmigrant worker. Petitioners may also use this form to request an extension of stay in or change of status to E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B1 or TN, or one of the above classifications for an alien.”

Also, the same website has this to say about Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers). It is used “to petition for an alien worker to become a permanent resident in the United States.” The petitioner usually is an employer or a prospective employer.

It means therefore that only those who already have prospective employers who already filed for them or those with an approved exchange programme can benefit from the relaxed rule.