Visa Denials for Nepali Doctors Fuel Anxiety as Residency Start Dates Near

Anxiety is rising among Nepali doctors pursuing residencies in the United States after another group had their J-1 visa applications rejected by the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu. This follows a similar wave of denials last week.

Nearly a dozen doctors were denied visas on Tuesday, adding to the previous group. These rejections come after the U.S. invalidated the USMLE scores of many Nepali doctors in January, creating difficulties in securing residencies. Despite these challenges, some doctors managed to obtain residencies but are now facing difficulties with their J-1 visa applications, causing concern for their future careers.

The visa denials have not only affected those who have been interviewed but also those awaiting their appointments, increasing anxiety among them. The embassy has also canceled some individuals’ previous visitor visas, marking them ‘Cancel without prejudice’.  Allegations have surfaced of visa officers using harsh language during interviews, referring to the past USMLE score invalidations of some Nepali doctors.

“I had my residency all lined up, but now I’m worried my visa will be rejected,” said a Nepali doctor who spoke to NepYork on condition of anonymity. “I don’t know what I’ll do if that happens.”

NepYork had reached out to the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. A spokesperson affirmed the department’s dedication to promoting cultural exchange and mobility for international medical students via initiatives like the BridgeUSA Physician Exchange.

“The Department of State is committed to facilitating cultural exchange and international medical student mobility through programs such as the BridgeUSA Physician exchange. We recognize the important cultural, economic, and community contributions Physician participants bring to cities and towns across the United States,” said a spokesperson from the U.S. Department of State.

They added, “Every nonimmigrant visa applicant, including J-1 visa applicants seeking to participate in an exchange visitor program, must establish to the satisfaction of a consular officer that they will engage in activities consistent with the relevant visa classification. For applicants seeking to work or study in the United States, this requires that they establish that their planned employment or course of study is consistent with that permitted in the available visa category. Each J-1 visa applicant will also need to convince the adjudicating officer that they are credible travelers who overcome the presumption of immigrant intent.”

The State Department clarified that individual visa case details cannot be discussed due to U.S. law confidentiality requirements. Visa applications are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, in line with the Immigration and Nationality Act and State Department regulations. They advised, “All visa applications are adjudicated on their individual merits, in accordance with the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and Department of State regulations.”

Physicians in Nepal seeking J-1 visas are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu for specific inquiries.