Frequently Asked Questions
J-1 Visa Waiver Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Conrad 30 Waiver program?
The Conrad 30 Waiver program allows J-1 medical doctors to apply for a waiver for the 2-year residence requirement upon completion of the J-1 exchange visitor program. See section 214(l) of the Immigration Nationality Act (INA). The program addresses the shortage of qualified doctors in medically underserved areas.
What is a J-1 Visa?
The J-1 Visa allows international medical graduates to come to the United States under an educational exchange program for up to seven years. When the visa expires, they must return home for at least two years before applying for a permanent visa in the United States.
What is a J-1 Visa Waiver?
A J-1 Visa Waiver eliminates the two year home residency requirement and allows the physician to remain to practice medicine in the United States in federally designated medically underserved areas. State government agencies can sponsor J-1 Physician waiver requests which are called Conrad State 30 programs.
How do I apply for a Case File Number?
Prior to application for a J-1 Visa Waiver, the U.S. Department of State requires that the physician/applicant complete an online data sheet DS-3035 application. Instructions on how to complete the online DS-3035 application are available on their website: https://j1visawaiverrecommendation.state.gov/.
How do I apply for a J-1 Visa Waiver?
The Massachusetts program is administered by the Health Care Workforce Center at the Department of Public Health. The Department only considers requests submitted by the employing health care facility or agency. Applications are accepted October 1st through December 31st. Details are in the Massachusetts program policy document at: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/com-health/primary-care/j1-visa-waiver-policies.pdf
Where are Massachusetts Health Professional Shortage Areas and Medically Underserved Areas/Population designations?
Massachusetts has federal shortage areas in rural and urban areas. To determine if an area (county, group of census tracts or facility) is a currently designated shortage area go to http://hpsafind.hrsa.gov
Massachusetts has some shortage areas beyond the federal designations. Please see the Massachusetts policy document for details about the Flex component of the program (also at http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/com-health/primary-care/j1-visa-waiver-policies.pdf )
What are the physician applicant requirements?
The physician must agree to practice medicine full-time in the identified health care facility for a minimum of three (3) years and begin employment within ninety (90) days of receipt of their waiver.
What are the employer requirements?
The employer must also agree to employ the Visa Waiver recipient for at least three years at the identified site, and have a plan to retain the physician beyond the initial contract period. Employers must be non-profit or public agencies.
What is the cost to apply?
Massachusetts does not charge a fee to apply for a J-1 Visa Waiver in Massachusetts. However, you must first apply to the United States Department of State for a Case File Number which you will need for the J-1 Visa Waiver application. The U.S. Department of State charges a processing fee for this Case File Number.
How are applications reviewed in Massachusetts?
All applications received are reviewed for basic eligibility, then go through a first level team review that assesses how the application meets the priorities set out in the Massachusetts Conrad-30 / J1 Visa Waiver program policy. A final review assesses the application against overall need and assigns support to those applications that most closely meet the goal of increasing access to care for vulnerable populations and high need areas. A copy of the program policy and the Level 1 review sheet is available on our program page or at: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/com-health/primary-care/j1-visa-waiver-policies.pdf
What constitutes a primary care physician?
Massachusetts Visa Waiver program recognizes primary care physicians as Doctors of Osteopathic and Allopathic Medicine: family medicine and osteopathic general practice, geriatrics, internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics, gynecology.
How are specialist or non-primary care physician applications reviewed?
All applications received by the December 31st deadline will be reviewed as described in January, including specialist or non-primary care physicians.
Is there a limit to the number of physicians an applicant agency or employer may request?
Yes there is a limit to the number of applications an agency or employer may submit per Waiver year. Massachusetts will accept for review up to three physician applications per agency or employer, per Visa Waiver year.
The Department recognizes that in some cases an agency or employer has sites in separate counties. The Department will account for that in reviewing applications and overall need.
If an agency or employer submits multiple applications is there guarantee that at least one application will be supported?
There is never a guarantee that an application will be supported. All support is at the discretion of the Department.
My rural community has difficulty recruiting physicians. How are rural areas be reviewed?
The Department understands rural areas have significant needs. Our Visa Waiver policy document, Flex Slot section, includes detail about rural communities that are not already in a federally designated shortage area. Please see the Massachusetts policy document for details about the Flex component of the program or: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/com-health/primary-care/j1-visa-waiver-policies.pdf
What if Massachusetts does not fill all 30 slots in the January review?
In the event that Massachusetts does not fill all 30 slots in the January review, we may open for additional applications and a second round of reviews. Eligible applicants that were not supported in the January review will have the option of having their application reviewed again. Applicants will not have to re-submit their application. Should an applicant wish to opt out of this second round review, and withdraw their application, notify Nicole Watson.
Any decision about holding a second review will be posted on our webpage.
Will Massachusetts post the number of applications supported in March, on the web page?
Yes, the number of slots that are supported will be posted in March.
Who do I contact for more information about the Massachusetts Visa Waiver program?
What is the federal Exchange Visitor Program?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for managing the U.S. Exchange Visitor Program as it relates to health research and clinical care.
This federal program, managed by the federal HHS, accepts applications to request waiver of the 2-year foreign residency requirement related to two types of waivers for: 1) Research performed in an area of priority or significant interest to the agency, and 2) Health care services needed in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area in the United States. For details go to:http://www.hhs.gov/about/agencies/oga/about-oga/what-we-do/index.html/exchange-visitor-program.html-0#.
Does the Massachusetts Visa Waiver program benefit from the federal Exchange Visitor Program?
Yes. Massachusetts recommends that any eligible applications for health research or clinical care Visa Waiver physicians be submitted to the federal Exchange Visitor Program at HHS.gov or go to: http://www.hhs.gov/about/agencies/oga/about-oga/what-we-do/index.html/exchange-visitor-program.html-0#.
The Massachusetts Health Care Workforce Center will write a support letter for applications developed for the HHS Exchange Visitor Program.