B1 Visas for Medical Clerkships and Observing Business/Vocational Activities

 

Introduction

In general, an individual may not use a B1 visitor for business visa to engage in a clerkship in the United States. However, there are two exceptions to this rule. One exception is for engaging in a medical clerkship within certain parameters, and the second exception is for observing business or other professional or vocational activities within certain parameters. In this article, we will examine both of these exceptions for engaging in clerkships on B1 status.

B1 Visa

Please see our full article for general rules about the types of activities that are permissible for B1 visitors for business [see article].

Medical Clerkship

9 FAM 402.2-5(E)(3) sets forth the rules for using a B1 visa to engage in a medical clerkship.

The medical clerkship exception applies to an alien who is studying at a foreign medical school. Such an alien may seek to enter the United States temporarily in B1 status in order to take an elective clerkship at a U.S. medical school's hospital. Such an alien may not receive remuneration from the hospital. The FAM explains that an “elective clerkship” is defined as “afford[ing] practical experience and instructions in the various disciplines of medicine under the supervision and direction of faculty physicians at a U.S. medical school's hospital as an approved part of the alien's foreign medical school education.”

The FAM makes clear that the medical clerkship is only for foreign “medical students pursuing their normal third or fourth year internship in a U.S. medical school as part of a foreign medical degree.”

A B1 visa may not be used for graduate medical training. Graduate medical training is restricted by section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and generally requires a J1 visa.

Business or other Professional or Vocational Activities

9 FAM 402.2-5(E)(3) sets forth the rules for using a B1 visa to observe the conduct of business or other professional vocational activities.

An alien may seek a B1 visa to come to the United States “merely and exclusively to observe the conduct of business or other professional or vocational activity…” It is important to note that the B1 category prohibits employment. The alien may not receive a salary or other remuneration and must pay for his or her own expenses. Accordingly, the B1 category cannot be used for practical experience through on-the-job training or paid clerkships. Such an alien may consider seeking a visa through the H, L, or J nonimmigrant categories, where appropriate.

Conclusion

Although clerkships are generally not permissible activities in B1 status, this article discusses the two limited exceptions to that rule. When seeking a B1 visa, it is essential to be forthright with consular officers (or the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in a change of status application) regarding the purpose of seeking such a visa. Regarding B visas, violations of status can cause long-term immigration problems. Accordingly, an alien is well advised to consult with an experienced immigration attorney for situation-specific guidance where any ambiguity exists.