International dentists applying for advanced standing programs come from all different walks of life, and their immigration status also vary. Some programs restrict the status of the applicants to citizen only or permanent resident and citizen only, and some don’t. It’s not a problem for citizens, but does your chances decrease if you are on a visa?
Short answer is: Possibly
Don’t get offended, all the visa holders out there; I was also on a visa when I applied and made it to many programs.
Here comes the long explanation…
There are largely 2 different reasons why programs restrict the status of applicants or may have a preference – whether they admit it or not.
1. Money, money, money…
Tuition is expensive, and programs know that. Federal student loans are available for those with a green card or citizens – this means that the likely-hood of someone dropping out of the program in the middle due to financial reasons is low. There are no guaranteed loans for people with visas, so there is a higher possibility of a student going through a financial challenge or even drop off in the middle of the program because of money.
If a student drops off after the program starts and can’t fill that spot, it’s a huge loss for the program. It’s no secret that foreign-trained dentist programs are a huge source of finances for schools, and it’s not surprising that they would rather not take that risk.
That being said, that’s why most program require applicants on a visa status to submit proof that you have a source of funding with the application; if you can prove that money won’t be an issue while you continue your education, you’re good to go with programs that do accept students on a visa status.
This isn’t just for Advanced Standing programs, but even for the traditional dental students – many schools require applicants to be a citizen or permanent resident. Most of the times only state schools have this rule – private schools can do whatever they want and don’t really care, they just want the best possible students they can get, whereas the state schools get funding from the state, they’re usually more conservative and lots of politics are involved.
From one perspective, it’s understandable that they give preference to their citizens over non-citizens, most countries have some laws and rules that would reflect that, right? They want to educate and take care of their people. And because in the US, states operate kinda like a “country inside a country”, states often give preference to their residents as well.
With all that in mind, programs for international dentists are usually self-funded, even in state schools; they don’t get funding from the state for the program. This explains why the tuition is so much more than the traditional students. This also explains why schools like University of Texas, San Antonio or Indiana University gives equal opportunity to foreign-trained dentist applicants, while they give preference to residents of the states when selecting traditional dental students.
It’s great if you’re a US citizen or permanent resident, but even if you’re not, it definitely won’t stop you from becoming a dentist in the states. Many schools that openly give preference to traditional applicants with a certain status say that residency status is not a deciding factor.