J1 Visa Waiver Eligibility Criteria in Montana

Eligibility Criteria for J-1 Physicians That Want To Obtain a J1 Visa Waiver

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) wants to improve access to health care in medically under-served areas in the state. One priority is to improve access to primary healthcare in the medical fields of Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Obstetrics/Gynecology.

Sponsored immigrant J-1 physicians who agree to work in one of the under-served areas in Montana can be waived the “two-year home country physical presence requirement” of their J1 visa by obtaining a J1 visa waiver. Those waivers, as part of Montana’s participation in the Conrad-30 program, can be granted to all eligible J-1 physicians. J1 visa waivers in Montana can also be given to non-primary care physicians such as psychiatrists.

A preference here is given to J-1 physicians being recruited for placement in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) over Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) or Medically Underserved Populations (MUPs).

To be eligible for the J-1 visa waiver, J-1 physicians that seek a J-1 visa waiver in the state of Montana must meet both the federal eligibility criteria as well as Montana’s DPHHS qualifications. Those eligibility criteria are:

1. The J-1 physician must have completed at least a three year residency in a primary care specialty in either Internal Medicine, Family Practice, Pediatrics, OB/Gyn. or in General Psychiatry in order to be eligible for the J-1 visa waiver.

2. Once the J-1 visa waiver has been granted, the J-1 physician must agree to begin practice within 90 days of receiving the waiver.

3. The applicant must agree to practice for a period of no less than three years in a federally designated shortage area within the state of Montana.

4. The J-1 physician must have an Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certificate.

5. The applicant must have passed the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or equivalent.

6. The J-1 physician must have a Montana license to practice medicine or have applied for one.

If all of the above criteria for the J1 visa waiver are met, the J-1 physician can apply for obtaining the J1 visa waiver. We will discuss the application process in a separate article.