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?
Massachusetts has many HPSAs in both rural and urban areas. To determine an area (county, group of census tracts or facility) is a currently designated HPSA, go to http://hpsafind.hrsa.gov
4. What are the applicant requirements?
The physician must agree to practice medicine full-time in the 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 three years at the site located in a HPSA or MUA/P for the entire duration of the contract.
6. What is the cost to apply?
There is no 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 processing fee for this Case File Number is $215.
7. How do I apply for a Case File Number?
Prior to application for a J-1 Visa Waiver, the United States Department of State requires that the physician/applicant submit to them their approved Waiver Review Application Data Sheet. This Data Sheet submission must be accompanied by a user fee of $215, paid with a cashier’s check or a money order made payable to the U.S. Department of State.
8. How do I apply for a J-1 Visa Waiver?
Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) begins accepting applications October 1 of each year. From October 1- December 31, applications for primary care and specialty applications will be accepted and reviewed. Should there be any slots available, there will be a 2nd review in March with notification in April. Applications are processed at MDPH - Health Care Workforce Center (HCWC) and forwarded to the Department Of State. The HCWC informs both the physician and employer, when their application is supported; and also informs those applicants that are not supported.
Full application instructions are available 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?
Email: Nicole.Watson@state.ma.us. Phone: 617-624-6051