J-1 / H-1B Candidates
Navigating the J1 and H1-B Visa Waiver Process
In simple terms, the J-1 and H1-B waivers are temporary nonimmigrant visas that allow foreign medical graduates to live and practice medicine within the United States. From here, there are several differences between the J-1 and H1-B waivers. The J-1 waiver primarily focuses on placement within different programs across the U.S. while the H1-B prioritizes the use of employers as their sponsors. The J-1 waiver provides more limited options whereas the H1-B opens doors to a broader range of job opportunities. The following provides a more in-depth look at each visa and their specific requirements and regulations.
How Premier Physician’s Agency Can Help J-1 Waiver & H1-B Waiver Applicants Secure Their Preferred Physician Job
As an International Medical Graduate (IMG) on either a J-1 or H-1B visa, the path you take to matching with your desired hospital is unique in regards to that of your colleagues. There are also particular legal provisions that must be included in your medical contracts to satisfy waiver requirements. At Premier Physician Agency, we fully understand the obstacles you’re facing. We have the experience and expertise to help guide you through your physician job search process to maximize your chances of securing a job opportunity in a desirable location. It is our goal to help you find a placement that satisfies your needs, both professionally and personally.
Options for Medical Graduates with a J-1 Waiver
Once a foreign medical graduate has completed their required years of school, there is a provision set in place that requires the medical graduate to return home to their foreign country and practice medicine there for two years prior to returning to the United States to continue their career as a physician. However, there are ways around this requirement thanks to certain government agencies set in place. The following programs provided by interested government agencies are as follows:
- Conrad 30 Program: This program is the most popular choice among foreign physicians. Eligibility requirements for this program:
- Agree to be employed full-time in H-1B nonimmigrant status at a healthcare facility located in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), Medically Underserved Area (MUA), or a Medically Underserved Population (MUP).
- Receive and sign a contract for the previously mentioned facility.
- Begin employment at your healthcare facility within 90 days of receiving your waiver.
- Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and Delta Regional Authority (DRA):
- The ARC program consists of programs in 13 states and the DRA 8 states. The ARC program only focuses on those who are willing to practice outpatient medicine whereas the DRA will consider both outpatient and primary care applicants.
- HHS Waiver: This program is regulated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Also known as the visitor exchange program, this program offers a dismissal process of the 2 year requirement to return to one’s foreign country for 2 years to practice medicine before practicing in the United States. The HHS program looks for two certain criteria in candidates:
- Research performed in an area of priority or significant interest to the agency”
- “Health care services needed in a Health Professional Shortage Area in the United States.
H-1B Visa Assistance
The H1-B is a work permit allowing you to practice medicine for a temporary, set amount of time within the United States. This option is issued as a special occupation that requires theoretical and practical application of specialized knowledge. The total time for stay is at most 6 years and at least three years. The contract associated with this visa binds the employee to the employer, although the candidate may work for multiple employers throughout their time in the U.S. given a Form I-129 is approved by each employer.
Children and spouses of the H1-B professional are given a special visa of their own called the H4 visa. This allows the immediate family (children and spouse only) to stay in the United States for the duration of the H1-B visa. Each of these options provides solutions to those medical graduates who do not wish to return to their foreign country for two years to practice medicine before they are allowed to practice in the United States. However, each of these alternatives come with a set of their own challenges as well as complicated legal measures.
If you are interested in pursuing one of these options, don’t hesitate to call us. It is our goal to ensure you are satisfied with your career path after all of the years of hard work you have put into becoming a physician. We can provide the necessary assistance, advice and legal frameworks to help you navigate the challenging waters of becoming a practicing physician in the United States.
Competition Surrounding Foreign Medical Graduates
It is our goal to help you secure waiver-eligible positions in/near major metros or larger cities. Each state has a certain number of available waiver slots each year. There is a federal filing period but each state also has its own process and timeframe for making their waiver selections. For example, certain states fill up much quicker than others. Our team possesses this information to improve your chances. Despite what you’re seeing advertised or told by recruiting firms and others, waiver-eligible positions do exist in more desirable locations. The team at Premier has proven success in identifying available opportunities in the most competitive physician markets (e.g., New York City, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, etc.).
Avoid the guessing game and streamline your search by targeting those employers that can take (or have taken) visa candidates in the past. Limit your anxiety by utilizing our knowledge of who and where you should focus your efforts. With a limit on available waiver slots and high competition in the most desirable locations, you cannot afford to waste time on unrealistic options.