J-1 Visa Waiver for Physicians

J-1 Waiver for Physicians

There is no specific J-1 Visa Waiver for physicians to extend their length of stay. Permanent Residence is not an available option for J-1 visa holders who have obtained medical training or education during their stay in the United States. However, physicians may be able to receive permanent residence status or a non-immigrant visa if he/she returns to the “home country” for a minimum of two years. The home country is defined as the permanent residence indicated by the J-1 visa holder at the time of initial admission. The two year requirement is enumerated by the Immigration Nationality Act, section 212(e). Though, there is the potential for the two year requirement to be waived. In this post we’ll explore the process for a J-1 waiver for physicians.

The two year requirement may be waived through four different programs:

  • The Conrad-30 J-1 Waiver program is the largest program available for J-1 applicants. Each state is allotted 30 waivers a year. 
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) arranges the health, research, and clinical aspects of the J-1 visa program. There are two possible waivers: if research of significant interest to an agency is conducted or if there is a demand for health care services (for the specific skills possessed by the J-1 visa holder) in a designated area.
  • The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is available in 13 states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
  • Delta Doctors Program is available in 8 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

J-1 Visa Waiver for Physicians Requirements:

  • To receive the J-1 Visa Waiver for Physicians, the J-1 physician is obligated to work full-time on H-1B nonimmigrant status. The doctor is expected to be employed at a health care facility in an area designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The designated field of employ (designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) shall be one that is experiencing a need for health care professionals.
  • The doctor must receive a contract from an approved health care facility. The health care facility is required to be categorized as a Professional Shortage Area, Medically Under-served Area, or Medically Under-served Population.   
  • The doctor is obligated to receive a “no objection” letter from the government of his/her home country. (Applicable only if the government is financially supporting the J-1 Visa holder)
  • The doctor must consent to begin employment with the health care facility, within 90 days of receipt of the two year waiver. The initial day of employment cannot start on the expiration of the J-1 Visa.

Received a J-1 visa waiver denial and not sure how to proceed? Click here to read common reasons including alternative options.

The Conrad 30 Waiver Program Application Process: j1 waiver for physicians

  •  Receive sponsorship from a state health department
  • Complete Form DS-3035 and the J-1 Visa Waiver Review Application
  • The accepted state health department is required to send the waiver application to the Department of State Waiver Review Division.
  • Submission to the division is mandatory for a recommendation

J-1 Waiver for Physicians – International Medical Graduates

International Medical Graduates, also referred to as IMGs, have faced added challenged in securing many benefits deemed by the United States immigration laws and codes, despite having the fulfilled medical residencies within the country.  Since the early 90s there has been a big push on the part of hospitals, federal/state agencies and independent groups to begin issuing temporary work visas and permanent residence to international medical graduates. What’s more, more and more programs have opted to issue temporary visas, H-1B visas, to IMGs rather than the traditional J-1 waivers for doctors (J-1 visas).

What separates J-1 visas from H-1B visas?  H-1B visas allow IMGs to circumvent the law which requires individuals on J-1 visas to fulfill the two-year physical presence requirement in their home country after finishing their medical residency and/or fellowship in the United States.

IMG Requirements – J-1 Waiver for Physicians

States around the U.S. require that International Medical Graduates successfully pass tests and fulfill a medical residency program prior to being issued a license. However, since it is required for IMGs to obtain J-1 visas to fulfill a medical residency and/or fellowship in the U.S. they are subject to the 2 year foreign residency requirement. They can, however, obtain J-1 waivers for doctors by demonstrating that they would be:

a) Subject to persecution on the basis of race, religion or political opinion

b) Can demonstrate that by returning to their home country it would end in “exceptional hardship” to their spouse or children who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents

c) If they (the IMG) is sponsored by an “interested governmental agency”.

Sponsoring Agencies for IMGS

Based on the original laws, only agencies of the federal government were permitted to sponsor IMGs for waivers from the 2-year home requirement. Due to such strong opposition, the new law was enacted in the mid 90s which allowed state departments of public health to sponsor international medical graduates on J-1 waivers.

When it comes to a J-1 waiver for physicians the process can be quite cumbersome. Read these J-1 Visa Waiver: 50 frequently asked questions to learn more.

How Our Immigration Lawyers Can Help:

  • The attorneys at the SGM Law Group, are knowledgeable in deciding which program best fits the applicants needs and qualifications. 
  • Our immigration lawyers are able to assist you in determining an applicant’s eligibility for the J-1 Visa Waiver Review Application.
  • Our J-1 lawyers are experienced at completing the J-1 visa waiver for physicians. We are skilled at forming the best strategy in order to achieve success when applying for the J-1 waiver.

Have additional questions regarding J-1 Waiver for physicians or visas? Contact our law offices to schedule your initial consultation.

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