J waivers for physicians are available for doctors who agree to work in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) or Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) for a minimum of 3 years. Generally, International Medical Graduates who do medical residency and fellowship programs in the U.S. must return to their home countries for 2 years after completing their programs unless they receive J waivers.
J waivers are also available if a doctor can demonstrate that his spouse and children who are either U.S. citizens or green card holders would suffer “exceptional hardship” if he were forced to return to his/her home country for 2 years. Finally, J waivers can be granted if the doctor can demonstrate that he would be persecuted if forced to return his home country.
International Medical Graduates (IMGs) must pass the the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), complete a medical residency in the U.S. and become licensed in a particular state in order to qualify to practice medicine in the United States. Often, IMGs obtain J-1 visas to come to the U.S. to do their residencies and fellowships. If so, they are compelled to return to their countries for a minimum of two years once their training is complete.
J waivers for physicians are generally sponsored by an Interested Government Agency (IGA), either a state Conrad 30 program or a Federal agency. A smaller number of J waivers are obtained if it can be shown that the physician would be persecuted if he had to return to his home country or that his spouse and children (U.S. citizen or lawful permanent residents) would suffer “exceptional hardship” if the physician were forced to return home.
In the near future, physicians will be able to seek J waivers from a newly-designated federal agency, the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission.
This page explains the procedures by which J waivers for physicians can be granted by the U.S. government.
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J-1 Waivers For Physicians is divided into the following subtopics:
- J Waivers for Physicians
- Exceptional Hardship and Persecution Waivers
- Conrad State 30 Programs
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Veterans’ Administration
- Appalachian Regional Commission
- Delta Regional Authority
J WAIVERS FOR PHYSICIANS
- FAQ – Waiver of 2-Year Home Residency Requirement (State Department)
- Check the Status of Your J Waiver (State Department)
- AILA Practice Pointers for Health Care Immigration Cases
- Foreign Physicians: Data on the Use of J-1 Visa Waivers Needed to Better Address Physician Shortages (GAO) (11-30-06)
- Foreign Physicians: Preliminary Findings on the Use of J-1 Visa Waivers to Practice in Underserved Areas (GAO) (5-18-06)
- J Waiver Extension/Expansion for Physicians (Public Law 108-441) – Signed into Law on 12-03-04
EXCEPTIONAL HARDSHIP AND PERSECUTION WAIVERS
- J Waivers Through Exceptional Hardship and Persecution
- Decision Finding “Exceptional Hardship” To Spouse Of J-1 M.D. (2/18/08)
CONRAD STATE 30 PROGRAMS
Each state has the ability to sponsor up to 30 physicians each year for J waivers. Almost all states sponsor primary care physicians, and a rapidly increasing number of states sponsor specialists. Most states post their criteria for sponsoring J waivers for physicians online. Click on the name of the states listed below to access this information.
- Keys to the Conrad 30 Program by Carl Shusterman (Association of Staff Physician Recruiters)
- Conrad 30 Waiver Program (USCIS)
- State Conrad 30 Programs and Contact Information
- Conrad State 30 Program Usage
- USCIS eases visa restrictions for some foreign doctors (5-13-20)
Conrad 30 Web Sites:
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (HHS)
- HHS Exchange Visitor (J-1) Waiver Program for Physicians
- Exchange Visitor Program Frequently Asked Questions
- Supplementary Information – Supplement A (Researchers)
- HHS Application for J Waiver – Supplement B (Clinical Care Physicians)
- New Opportunities for Hiring Foreign Physicians in Shortage Areas (5-11-20)
VETERANS’ ADMINISTRATION (VA)
- VA Handbook for Requesting J Waivers for Physicians (2011)
- VA Handbook for Requesting J Waivers for Physicians (1-26-05)
- Job Opportunities At The Veterans Administration
- Application For Employment For VA Jobs For Physicians
APPALACHIAN REGIONAL COMMISSION (ARC)
- ARC J Waiver Program
- Counties in Appalachia
- J Visa Waiver Affidavit and Agreement
- J-1 Visa Waiver Policy: Sample Notice
DELTA REGIONAL AUTHORITY (DRA)
- Delta Doctors – J Waiver Program
- How to Apply for a J Waiver
- J Waiver Application Checklist
- Compliance Guidelines
- Resources (DRA)
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening a firm specializing exclusively in US immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the US Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.