What Visa Do I Need to Work in the USA?

By Corinne Wigfall BVMBVS(Hons) BVMedSci(Hons)

Considering travelling to the USA? With 50 states to choose from, the diversity in climate, topography, and population density is massive. From speciality hospitals right through to rural mixed practice, there is the perfect job for you somewhere in the USA.

Veterinary Doctors are highly respected within the community and have high earning potential, with opportunities for work-related bonuses. If you are considering the work/travel lifestyle this is a particularly appealing part of the world to consider.

In the year 2021, a significant number of work visas went unclaimed, so the USA is putting extra effort into granting work visas and has increased the number of visas available. This gives veterinarians a unique opportunity to seize the day and give the USA Vet Jobs a try.

The USA is unique in some ways as obtaining a visa to work, is often a lot easier than obtaining a license to practice as a veterinarian in the USA. Once you are licensed an employer will be motivated to assist in helping you with your visa applications, and it’s not uncommon for clinics to pay for the visa application process.

The Vet Service will be with you every step of the way from support and guidance to finding you your dream job to visas and relocation. Register now, we can help assist you in finding your next veterinary job globally with permanent vet jobs, locum vet jobs, and graduate vet jobs available.

Licensing Requirements

To work as a veterinarian in the USA, you will need to be licensed by the veterinary board. Each state has its own veterinary board. Applications can take a long time, have multiple steps and you will need to factor in the costs of these applications.  For a more detailed understanding of licensing requirements make sure to speak with our expert team of advisors.

To obtain licensing in most states, you need to meet the educational requirements. This can be achieved in two ways.

The first option is to graduate from a school accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education.

The second option is for graduates of non-accredited veterinary schools. Applications from these individuals will need to complete a programme called the ECFVG. This programme assesses competencies such as English language, basic clinical knowledge and surgical experience.

After completing the ECFVG programme, or graduating from an accredited school, you will need to sit a licensing examination known as the NAVLE. It’s important to be aware that this exam is only available to sit at certain times of the year, so this can affect your travel plans.

After obtaining your license, you can then apply for a job and a visa. There are two main types of visa available to veterinarians wanting to work in the USA

Temporary Non-Migrant Work Visa

For a veterinarian wanting a work visa, the H1-B temporary work visa is recommended. This work visa can allow you to stay and work in the USA for a period of 6 months to three years.  After five years of working on a temporary work visa, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residency in the U.S.  For full eligibility information get in touch with our Area Advisors.

Permanent Residence/Green Card

If wishing to immigrate permanently to the USA, you will need a permanent job offer. Your employer will need to complete the I-140 Immigrant petition, and once this petition has been granted you will need to apply for a residence visa.

Once granted a permanent resident visa, you can stay and work in the USA indefinitely. You can also change employers without needing to apply for a new visa.

Other considerations

Health Insurance

Health insurance is essential if working in the USA. Some employers will offer health insurance as a work benefit, but if not be sure to take out a policy before travelling.


You may be responsible for paying taxes from your earnings. Talk to an accountant for individual financial advice before accepting a job offer.


There is a dire need for qualified veterinary professionals in every state in the USA, with many job listings across all sections of the veterinary industry. Obtaining the relevant documentation to legally work as a veterinarian can seem daunting but is possible with adequate planning and the right help. The Vet Service provides a personalised guidance with the process. As the licensing and visa requirements are significant, it’s worth planning to stay in the USA for at least a year or more to maximise your return on the time invested into obtaining the documentation to work and live in the USA.

Check out our blog, ‘What is it Like to Work as a Veterinarian in the United States?‘ to discover what you are missing out on and insight into the U.S. veterinarian mean annual wage which can also be found in our Global Vet Salary Report.

Here at The Vet Service, we have done a really exciting visa series over the past few months on our education hub. If working as a veterinarian in the USA isn’t your first choice, you can check out our other visa blogs below:

Let us find you your next veterinary job from Vet Jobs in the USA, Vet Jobs in Canada, Vet Jobs in Australia, Vet Jobs in New Zealand, Vet Jobs in the UK, and Vet Jobs in Ireland. 

Get in touch today to see how we can help with your vet career. We have lots of opportunities available in the USA and Globally! Register Today!

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