J-1 Visa Waiver Frequently Asked Questions
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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 HPSA, go to http://hpsafind.hrsa.gov.
Massachusetts has some shortage areas beyond the federal designations. Please see the policy document for detail about the Flex component of the program.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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. There is a processing fee for this Case File Number.
7. 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/.
8. 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 on the program policy document at: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/community-health/primarycare-healthaccess/healthcare-workforce-center/workforce-help/j1/
9. Who do I contact for more information?
This information is provided by the Primary Care Office within the Department of Public Health.