AAO approved EB-2 petition – Foreign degree found equivalent to U.S. “M.D.”

Posted On: March 4, 2009

The Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) recently withdrew the decision of the Director, Texas Service Center (TSC) and approved the immigrant petition.

The Petitioner provides health care services. The Petitioner sought to employ the beneficiary permanently in the position of Family Practice Physician. The position on ETA Form 9089 listed the educational requirements for the position as “M.D.” which stands for “Doctor of Medicine.” The pertinent regulation states: “A United States baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent degree followed by at least five years of progressive experience in the specialty shall be considered the equivalent of a master’s degree. If a doctoral degree is customarily required by the specialty, the alien must have a United States (U.S.) doctorate or a foreign equivalent degree.” The beneficiary possesses a foreign five-year Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree from Islamia University Bahawalpur in Pakistan. Additionally the beneficiary possesses a Mississippi State Board of Licensure valid until June 30, 2009. Upon review of the petition, the director determined that the beneficiary did not qualify for classification as a member of the professions holding an advanced degree or satisfy the minimum level of education stated on Form ETA 9089. Specifically, the director determined that the beneficiary did not possess a U.S. “Medical degree” or foreign educational equivalent. Subsequently, the employment based visa immigrant petition was denied by the Director of the TSC.

The issue on appeal is whether the petitioner has demonstrated that the beneficiary qualifies for immigrant classification as an advanced degree professional pursuant to the regulations.

The AAO first reviewed the joint evaluation submitted by the Petitioner upon certification. The evaluation concluded that the beneficiary’s MBBS was the equivalent of a U.S. Doctor of Medicine. However, the evaluation did not cite any references, and was not supported by documentation supporting their conclusions. Thereafter, the AAO reviewed the Electronic Database for Global Education (EDGE) created by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO). (To read more about the AACRAO, please read the full decision located above) In a section related to the educational system in Pakistan, EDGE provided that an MBBS from Pakistan “represents the attainment of a level of education comparable to a first professional degree in medicine in the United States.” Accordingly, a first professional degree within the United States includes a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) The AAO ruled that the information contained in EDGE was consistent with and supported the evaluator’s conclusion that the alien beneficiary’s foreign education was equivalent to a medical degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States.

Accordingly, the burden rested with the petitioner, and the petitioner was able to sustain his burden. The petition was thereafter approved.

The MVP Law Group recommends that employers submit accurate and credible evaluations on behalf of all alien beneficiaries when petitioning for nonimmigrant/immigrant employment based visa petitions.