Dear Mentor:

Will my green card help with a medical residency?

I am a medical graduate from India and have completed my one-year internship. I will be moving to California with my husband shortly. Our green card is being processed. Is getting a medical residency difficult in California for foreign medical graduates and will a green card make a difference?

Green Physician, India

Dear Green Physician:

As you recognize, you would have to do your residency in the US before you can practice medicine in the US. To search for and obtain residency, you must complete the US Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). We have addressed the process of completing the USMLE in an earlier column: How do I do medical residency in the US? You would essentially have to complete the 3-step process. Steps 1 and 2 can be completed in various parts of the world, including India. Step 3 must be completed in the US.

Since both local and foreign graduates must complete the USMLE, the requirements for residency are the same. Residency, which lasts 3 to 4 years depending on the specialization, is considered a form of employment. Because US green card holders (permanent residents) are allowed to work legally without any restriction, you would avoid the additional and bureaucratic requirement of obtaining appropriate employment authorization from the US INS (Immigration & Naturalization Service). Your prospective employers for residency have preference for legal residents of the US - and that is you - over foreign residents.

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