The Department of State (DOS) recently announced that U.S. embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services “to the extent possible, given resource constraints and local government restrictions.” Medical professionals with an approved U.S. nonimmigrant or immigrant visa petition (I-129 or I-140 with a current priority date, 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, should review the website of their nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for procedures to request an emergency visa appointment, DOS said. Local government restrictions may limit the ability of some embassies/consulates to process emergency visas now. Applicants’ travel may also be subject to restrictions.
For those foreign medical professionals already in the United States, DOS noted that J-1 physicians (medical residents) may consult with their program sponsor, ECFMG, to extend their programs in the United States. Generally, a J-1 program for a foreign medical resident can be extended one year at a time for up to seven years, the agency noted.