Nepali Doctors in the US Facing Legal Challenges After USMLE Exam Scores Cancellation

Legal experts are cautioning Nepali doctors in the United States whose USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) first or second step exam scores have been invalidated. Legal experts emphasize that failure to apply for a change of status within 30 to 60 days could potentially render these doctors unlawfully present in the country.

Nepali doctors on J-1 or H-1B visas, engaged in residency and participating in the matching program, have received notifications about the cancellation of the matching program by their affiliated hospitals or educational institutions. For those whose Step 3 scores are canceled, their residency remains unaffected, requiring only a revalidation exam for USMLE.

Keshab Raj Seadie, a prominent lawyer, clarified that J-1 visa holders have a 30-day grace period to change their status, while those on H-1B visas have 60 days. Unlawful presence in the US could lead to future entry bans and complications in obtaining a green card. Seadie urged affected doctors to promptly address their legal status to avoid any adverse consequences.

For H-1B visa holders facing residency revocation, Seadie advised applying for a change to F1 or B2 visas within 60 days. J-1 visa holders, who are required to fulfill a two-year home-country physical presence requirement, face a more complex process. While some can apply for waivers to change their status, others may need to return to Nepal due to the lengthy waiver approval period. However, J-1 visa holders can apply for an O1 visa, designated for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement.

Approximately 300 Nepali doctors are currently in residency in the US, primarily on J-1 and H-1B visas. The USMLE canceled results after detecting unusual patterns in the examination, sparking concerns among the medical community.

The USMLE has begun directly notifying affected individuals about result cancellations. The program’s statement highlighted ongoing investigations and identified anomalous exam performance associated with Nepal. The affected doctors will need to take validation exams to reinstate their scores.

The Educational Commission for Medical Graduates (ECFMG) has also issued a statement, acknowledging the USMLE’s decision to invalidate test scores and outlining the implications for ECFMG Certification. The invalidated scores no longer meet certification requirements, impacting ECFMG Certificates and verifications to residency programs and other organizations.

The situation is expected to have significant consequences for affected doctors, and ECFMG is actively communicating with impacted individuals to provide case-specific information related to their certification status.