Our Immigration Blog recently shared several key developments in J-1 waiver options to support International Medical Graduates who wish to complete their training in the United States, but struggle with the two-year home residency requirement. Despite an acknowledged physician shortage, the pathways for medical residents to transition to a visa status that will allow them to work and practice in the United States remain limited. However, new options have emerged:

  • The Southeast Crescent Regional Commission (SCRC) developed and implemented a J-1 Waiver Program for foreign physicians, open to both primary care physicians and medical specialists. This program is an attractive option for physicians seeking to work in the covered geographic area, to avoid the uncertainty of the numerically limited Conrad State 30 waiver program. 
  • The Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) announced that it will also implement its own J-1 waiver program for physicians, likely to begin in Fiscal Year 2023. While the NBRC has been in existence since 2008, funded by Congress since 2010, and authorized to support health care-related activities, thus far in its tenure its health care-related activities have primarily been limited to issuing grants to health care facilities within the region. Prompted by repeated requests and feedback, the NBRC decided to implement a J-1 waiver program to serve physicians to agree to practice in federally-designated underserved areas. This is promising news for healthcare facilities in the Northeastern United States, especially New York state, that may rely on foreign physicians to address their shortage of available providers.

Brendan Venter, who serves on our Health Care industry team, is a member of the International Medical Graduate Taskforce, a small sub-set of immigration attorneys who focus their practice on healthcare immigration and advancing reasonable laws for international medical graduates to pursue health care careers in the United States. Follow our Immigration Blog and Health Care Blogs as we monitor this important public health issue.