J-1 Waiver – IGA for Physicians
Applicants eligible for the J-1 waiver IGA for Physicians are required to be foreign medical graduates who are willing to be employed in a medically underserved area. J-1 IGA Waivers are the second most common sought after waivers. Based on the terms of this waiver, the physician must have been extended a full-time position within a healthcare facility of the medically underserved area.
A “medically underserved area” is defined as having a shortage of health care professionals. These areas also include mental health professional shortage areas, medically underserved areas or population, and physician scarcity areas. If the physician accepts the waiver, the physician is required to start employment within 90 days of obtaining the waiver and is obligated to work in the designated facility for a total of 40 hours a week.
The potential candidate may be employed with this facility for a minimum of three years. If the physician qualifies under these requirements, he/she can then be eligible for sponsorship from an Interested Government Agency (IGA).
This is a method in which a U.S. Federal Executive Agency expresses interest in your work and wishes to sponsor your waiver to avoid the home residency requirement. This usually occurs if you are working on a federal project that would be disrupted if you were compelled to return to your home country. This means that you will need to demonstrate that your involvement is instrumental to the completion of your project. The more critical your role is, the greater your chances of acceptance.
A government agency, under certain circumstances, may still qualify as your sponsoring IGA even if the agency only funds your work. For example, if your cardiology program receives funds from the Department of Health, it might qualify as an IGA.
Alternatively, if you work in a Veterans Affairs hospital, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can be your sponsoring agency and you do not need to work in a medically underserved area.
J-1 Waiver IGA Process
- The first thing you need to do is find a sponsoring government agency. This does not necessarily need to be the same agency that you worked for during your J-1 visa validity period. For example, if you are working on developing vaccinations for a private company, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services may choose to sponsor you. However, it will usually be up to you to reach out to the agency.
The physician is required to complete the J-1 Visa Waiver Recommendation Application (Form DS-3035). The application is available online. The online DS-3035 is the only acceptable method for the application to be processed. When the physician has completed the online application, remember to print the given barcode and finished application. Make sure that the application indicates how the J-1 visa waiver will be in the nation’s best interest.
Once the DS-3035 has been submitted online, the physician is required to mail 5 items to one of the listed addresses.
- The completed online application
- Application barcode
- Duplicates of every Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (Form DS-2019) and IAP-66 obtained.
- Two self-addressed, stamped envelopes
- $215 application fee (be sure to submit this will the barcode or else it will be returned).
- You may also need to include recommendation letters from experts in your field. Work with your immigration attorney to determine candidates as authors for your letters.
The average processing time for a J-1 waiver for physicians based on a request from a IGA is six months although there may be discrepancies from case to case.
Keep in mind that you will most likely not be permitted to self-petition for your IGA waiver. This means that you will need to get the approval and support from your manager and often a director or executive. These individuals, acting as your employer, will likely need to sign the application for the IGA and give the USCIS information about you work and the program that sponsored you for your J-1 visa.
Be sure to have your application, payments, and supporting documents sent to the right address to avoid any complications in your processing. Ask your immigration attorney if you should use the courier or regular service.
U.S Department of State
Waiver Review Division
1005 Convention Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63101-1200
U.S. Department of State
Waiver Review Division
St. Louis, MO 63195-2137
3. The J-1 waiver IGA for physicians requires supplementary material.
- Signed statement with date. The statement must read:
- “I, (Name of J-1 Visa Holder) hereby declare and certify, under penalty of the provisions of 18USC.1101, that: (1) I have sought or obtained the cooperation of (Name of Government Agency who is submitting IGA request); and (2) I do not now have pending nor will I submit another request to any U.S. Government department or agency or its equivalent, to act on my behalf in any matter relating to a waiver of my two year home residence requirement.”
- The head of the sponsoring government agency must submit a letter of request stating the importance of removing the two year foreign residency requirement.
- A signed contract indicating that the physician will work a minimum of 3 years at 40 hours a week within the designated facility.
- Provide proof that the facility is qualified with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- The head of the facility is obligated to sign a statement declaring that the facility is a HPSA or MUA. Statement must include that it is delivers medical care to Medicaid and Medicare-eligible patients, and uninsured patients. The statement is required to provide Information Processing Standards county code, census tract, block numbering area, or the 9 digit zip code of the facility’s area.
- Proof of recruiting efforts in trying to obtain a qualified U.S. citizen for the physician position.
- If the physician would like attorney representation, he/she is mandated to submit form G-28 must be submitted.
4. Once the physician has completed steps 2 and 3 the Waiver Review Division will consider your case. The physician will have the ability to view the status of the waiver application.
5. The Waiver Review Division may request additional information and documents.The Division will contact the physician using the information provided in the application (Form DS-3035). If the physician wishes to request information or submit missing documents, all items should be sent to:
U.S. Department of State Visa Services
Waiver Review Division
2401 E. Street, NW
Washington, DC 20522-0106
How Our Immigration Lawyers Can Help
Getting around the J-1 visa home residency requirement is no easy task. Doing it alone can only increase the probability that your application will be denied. The best way to make sure that you are prepared for any issues or unforeseen obstacles is to have a qualified J-1 visa attorney in your corner.
Here at SGM Law Group, our dedicated team of attorneys will take care of everything from filling out your application to helping you collect letters of recommendations and other supporting documents. We’ll also help you determine what qualifies as a medically underserved area so you can be sure that your case is rock solid.
To get in touch with one of our immigration attorneys, just fill out this simple contact for and schedule your consultation with our office today.