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H-1B Visas for Foreign Pharmacists

Foreign pharmacists who wish to practice in the United States are best suited under the H-1B visa category. The H-1B visa for a foreign pharmacist can be acquired for internship programs as well as for licensed pharmacist positions. Foreign school graduates or pharmacists with foreign degrees must meet the general state board pharmacy rules to obtain an H-1B visa. As of January 2003, foreign-educated pharmacists can only apply for the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC) Certification if he or she has earned a professional degree from a five-year curriculum program. This requirement is mandated by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).

Like other health care workers hoping to immigrate to the United States on the H-1B visa, foreign educated pharmacists must take the appropriate examinations and meet several licensing requirements. If you are a foreign pharmacist and wish to have your H-1B visa or permanent residence processed, contact the immigration lawyers at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA for a consultation.

Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Requirements

A foreign pharmacist wishing to obtain an H-1B visa must show that he or she has the equivalent education of U.S. pharmacy graduates. Also, the employer who files the visa on behalf of the foreign pharmacist must show that the employee is qualified for the job and that the foreign degree is equivalent to a BS degree in pharmacy or PharmD degree. This can be done by completing the FPGEC Certification. Additionally, because the pharmacist is required to be licensed in the state in which he or she practices, the employer must show that the pharmacist is actually licensed in that particular state.

Special Requirements: FPGEC, FPGEE, and TOEFL &TSE

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) administers the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC) Certification. Although this certification is not a license to practice pharmacy, it does confirm that the foreign pharmacy school graduates have the equivalent education as that of U.S. pharmacy graduates. Part of the certification requires the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination (FPGEE). This measures the foreign pharmacist’s knowledge of certain subjects like chemistry, which is required of all pharmacists in the United States. Further, the foreign pharmacist must score at least a 550 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) paper based exam, or at least a 213 on the computer based TOEFL. Also, the Test of Spoken English (TSE) must be taken and the foreign pharmacist must attain a score of at least 50.

State Requirements

  • Graduate Degree in Pharmacy
    • Most state boards require that the pharmacist is a graduate from pharmacy schools or programs that are accredited by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE). However, no foreign schools are accredited by ACPE.
  • North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX)
    • The foreign pharmacist must pass the NAPLEX. Although reciprocity requirements differ from state to state, the NAPLEX score may be transferred from one state to another.
  • Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE)
    • Most states do not recognize MPJE scores from other states because it is a test of both federal and state law. Therefore, the foreign pharmacist would be required to take the MPJE again in whichever state he or she wishes to practice.
  • Internship
    • Many states require a number of internship hours that must be completed prior to taking the NAPLEX or before licensing. Some of these hours may be competed while the applicant is still in school. Generally, the individual must provide an affidavit about fulfilling hours of pharmacy practice. Foreign pharmacists will have the internship after the FPGEC certification but prior to the licensing exams. Nevertheless, internship programs for foreign pharmacists may qualify them to receive an H-1B visa.

Reciprocity or License Transfer

Some states accept reciprocity or license transfer. This could also include NAPLEX score transfers. However, the majority of states require that the other state have similar licensing requirements and use a license transfer system or NAPLEX score transfer system. These states then also require the transferring pharmacist to pass that state’s MPJE exam because of the different state laws the transferring pharmacist must now know. Typically, the pharmacist will not need to re-take the NAPLEX.

Overall, pharmacists are like other health care workers hoping to immigrate to the United States on the H-1B visa. Foreign educated pharmacists must take the appropriate examinations and meet several licensing requirements.

How to Contact Us

The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates is experienced in representing a wide range of healthcare professionals. We represent healthcare providers and companies as well as professionals in applying for visas (and waivers), and green cards for healthcare professionals. Our experienced immigration lawyers can assist you in Columbus, Ohio, Cleveland, Ohio, Southfield and Detroit area, Michigan, as well as Washington, DC. Please do not hesitate to call The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates for a consultation today or use our Contact form to inquire about obtaining your H-1B visa as a foreign pharmacist or foreign pharmacist intern.

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