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3 Things Employers Should Know About the Conrad J-1 Visa Waiver Program

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

Are you considering hiring a J-1 Visa physician to fill a vacancy at your hospital?

Exchange visitors with J-1 visas may be subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement as described in Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This would require them to return to their home country for at least two years following their completion of an exchange visitor program in the U.S, making it difficult for them to fill your business need.

There may be a light at the tunnel, however. In some scenarios, this requirement can be waived by the Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

One such waiver basis is the Conrad J-1 Visa Waiver Program.

In this article, we will discuss three things employers should know about the Conrad J-1 Visa Waiver Program.

1. The Heart of the Program is the Business and Community Need for Qualified Doctors

The Conrad J-1 Visa Waiver Program is designed to address physician shortages in medically underserved areas.

The J-1 foreign medical graduate must enter into a bona fide, full-time employment contract to practice medicine in H-1B status for at least 3 years at a health care facility located in an area designated by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a:

- Health Professional Shortage Area;

- Medically Underserved Area;

- Medically Underserved Population; or

- serving patients who reside in one of the above areas

2. The Application Process is Lengthy and Complicated

There are several entities involved in the Conrad J-1 Waiver process: DOS, USCIS, and the relevant State Public Health Department.

To apply for a Conrad J-1 Waiver, the J-1 foreign medical graduate must:

- Complete the Department of State Form DS-3035, J-1 Visa Waiver Review Application;

- Mail the application materials and fee to a Department of State J-1 Waiver Office; and

- Obtain the sponsorship of a State Public Health Department which will submit supporting documents to the Waiver Review Division

Obtaining the sponsorship of a State Public Health Department can be a tedious process, requiring documentation from both the employer and physician. The sponsoring health department may request numerous documents such as:

· Employment contract

· Physician’s state medical license

· Attestation forms signed by the physician and employer

· Physician’s CV

· Community Support Statements

· Recruitment Documentation

Once the health department sends its recommendation and accompanying documentation to DOS, DOS will process the application and forward its recommendation to USCIS. USCIS makes the final determination on each waiver request.

This process can take months to complete.

3. It Takes Three to Tango

In order to obtain a Conrad J-1 Waiver, the employer, the J-1 physician, and the attorney(s) involved must all work together to promptly submit the correct application materials to the correct entity.

The physician will likely be overwhelmed with the demands of medical residency, so the employer should provide support to the physician and enable them to obtain the necessary documentation for the application process.

Remember: each state public health department can only request 30 Conrad Waivers per federal fiscal year, so it is smart to be proactive, get organized, and provide timely responses to important communications from your prospective employee and attorney.


NOT LEGAL ADVICE: This article is for educational purposes only, it is not legal advice that may be applicable to your situation.

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is general information regarding law and policy that may be applicable to your particular HR issue or legal problem. Information provided in this blog, or any of our other public posts, does not create an attorney-client relationship. For specific advice you can rely upon, please contact your attorney.


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