Nepali Doctors on H-1B or J-1 Visas Must Leave US in 30-60 Days Due to Score Invalidations

Nepali doctors in the United States are facing a precarious situation as their scores in the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) have been invalidated due to suspicious answer patterns. This move has led to the cancellation of their residencies, forcing them to make swift decisions on either leaving the country or exploring legal options to stay.

In a recent hearing at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Christopher Cooper denied the Nepali doctors’ request for a preliminary injunction to stop the cancellation of their USMLE scores. As a result, the score cancellations will remain in effect for the time being.

Those doctors participating in the residency matching program on H-1B or J-1 visas are the most affected. They now have a limited window of 30-60 days, depending on their visa type, to take necessary actions. Failure to do so may result in “illegal presence,” potentially affecting their future entry to the US and hindering green card applications.

Legal experts are advising affected doctors to consider changing their visa status within the grace period. However, this comes with challenges, especially for J-1 visa holders who face a shorter window of 30 days and may be restricted by a mandatory 2-year home country return requirement.

For H-1B visa holders, the situation is somewhat less restrictive, with a 60-day window to apply for a change of status, including F-1 or B-2 visas. The flexibility of their visa category allows sponsorship by university and hospital systems, bypassing annual quota limitations and potentially offering an advantage in securing legal residency.

Despite these options, the process remains complex, involving navigating various legal nuances. Seeking guidance from qualified immigration attorneys is crucial for each individual case. The O-1 visa, designed for individuals with extraordinary abilities, presents another possibility but requires stringent proof of exceptional talent.

This cancellation has resulted in residency revocations for those whose scores were affected in Step 1 or Step 2, leaving them with a tight deadline to either leave the country or explore options to remain legally. However, doctors whose Step 3 score was invalidated are permitted to continue their residency while they retake the exam and strive to regain eligibility.

The future for these Nepali doctors remains uncertain, and while options exist, successfully navigating the legal landscape and overcoming individual visa restrictions will be crucial for securing their continued presence and career prospects in the US. The situation is dynamic, and further developments are likely to unfold in the coming days.

Cover Photo: Hush Naidoo Jade Photography/Unsplash