U.S. Immigration Options for Dentists


The demand for dental professionals in the United States is on the rise, driven by a growing population and an increasing emphasis on oral health. For dentists who were international students in the U.S. or trained outside the U.S., understanding the various immigration pathways is essential to navigating the immigration sponsorship process to be able to live and work in the country. This article explores the temporary and permanent visa options available to dentists seeking to start, continue, or advance their careers in the U.S.


Temporary Nonimmigrant Visa Options

  • H-1B Visa as the Default Option for Dentistry – The H-1B visa is the standard professional visa for dentists from countries not covered by specific professional visa treaties and agreements which create the TN, E-3, or H-1B1 visas discussed below. This visa requires the applicant to meet any state licensure requirements necessary to perform their role in the U.S. and is generally subject to an annual lottery. A benefit of this visa category, greater than treaty visas, is the ability to travel internationally while an adjustment of status to permanent residency is pending without first obtaining an advance parole travel document.
  • TN Visa for Canadian and Mexican Dentists – Under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), Canadian and Mexican dentists can apply for TN visas. This visa status allows them to work in the U.S. with approvals in increments of three (3) years. The TN visa does not require licensure before entering the U.S., so dentists may be able to enter, start their employment sooner, and complete the licensure process from within the U.S.
  • E-3 Visa for Australian Dentists – The E-3 visa is a specific category for Australian citizens entering the U.S. to work in specialty occupations, including dentistry. This visa is similar to the H-1B but provides for a more streamlined application process. The E-3 visa not require an annual lottery and allows for an application to be presented directly to a U.S. Consulate in Australia, with proof of qualifications, a U.S. job offer in a specialty occupation, and a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
  • H-1B1 Visa for Singaporean and Chilean Dentists – The H-1B1 visa provides a pathway for Singaporean and Chilean nationals to work in specialty occupations in the U.S., including dental roles. The application process is nearly identical to the E-3 visa, perhaps most importantly bypassing the H-1B lottery system, offering a more predictable route for qualified dentists from these countries.
  • E-2 Visas for Dentists – Dentists may use the E-2 visa as an essential skills employee to work for U.S. companies which are 50% owned by citizens of a treaty country if the dentist shares citizenship with the company’s owners.
  • J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa – The J-1 visa is suitable for dentists participating in exchange programs, including residencies or fellowships. This visa provides an opportunity for practical training in the U.S. and may require participants to return to their home country for at least two years upon completion, unless they obtain a waiver.


Permanent Immigrant Visa Options

  • EB-2 Immigrant Petition for Advanced Degree Professionals – The EB-2 immigrant visa is for dentists with advanced degrees or exceptional ability in their field. This category requires a job offer and labor certification unless the dentist qualifies for a National Interest Waiver (NIW), which can bypass these requirements if their work significantly benefits the U.S. Dentists who can demonstrate their work is in the national interest of the U.S. may apply for a National Interest Waiver. This waiver is particularly relevant for those working in underserved areas or public health sectors, eliminating the need for a job offer and labor certification.
  • EB-3 Immigrant Petition for Skilled Workers and Professionals – Dentists may qualify for the EB-3 immigrant visa if they hold at least a Bachelor’s degree and have a permanent, full-time job offer from a U.S. employer. The employer must first secure labor certification from the Department of Labor.



Navigating the diverse array of U.S. immigration pathways can be complex, especially for specialized professionals like dentists. Local companies have found that leveraging business immigration strategies is a cost-effective way to recruit top global talent and reduce employee turnover, as immigration status is generally tied to maintaining employment with the sponsoring employer. It is essential for Human Resources and Global Mobility teams to be aware of the available options for attracting the best international talent, including implementing internal HR compliance policies.

A consultation with a skilled business immigration lawyer is crucial for accurately assessing the appropriate U.S. immigration options, understanding both the requirements and procedural flexibility. Myers Immigration Law offers consultation services to help navigate this complex process, ensuring that dentists and their employers find the best immigration pathways. Many industries, including medical and dentist clinics, regularly sponsor foreign workers, making it a viable option for professional positions.

For more detailed information on U.S. immigration options for dentists, visit our Services webpage, which offers a comprehensive list of visa categories and additional resources for further development in a business immigration legal consultation.


The above is informational and not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with an experienced business immigration attorney on your specific facts and circumstances before proceeding with any U.S. immigration strategy.