The Conrad State 30 program for the J-1 Waiver was enacted January 12, 2007 and signed into public law by the President, Public Law No: 109-477. This extends the State 30 J-1 visa waiver program for two years and permits state health agencies to hire up to 30 foreign physicians to practice in inner-city and rural communities, where it can often be difficult to recruit physicians. Then October 1, 2009 H.R.5571, was sent by the house to the President to extend the Conrad J-1 program, through March 6, 2009. The bill passed the House in May, but was then amended by the Senate shortening the extension from five years to six months.
In June 2008 Mary Amundson from the University of North Dakota for Rural Health, testified to the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law. She warned of physician shortages in rural communities and explained the current state of access to rural health care and cited statistics on the declining rates of medical students choosing family medicine and physician shortages.
The Conrad State 30 program was initiated in 1994 and designed to provide each of the 50 U.S. states with up to 30 waivers for physicians each federal fiscal year. States have been given some flexibility to implement their own guidelines, with some basic requirements that affect all State 30 programs. Physicians that qualify for the Conrad State 30 programs have the ability to obtain a waiver. Each state usually has their own application materials that are separate from the DHHS program and the DOS application for a waiver. The medical professional that is interested in this program should contact the state they are interested in finding employment.
The requirements can vary from state to state, and the general requirements include:
- Full time employment must be offered at 40 hours per week as a primary care physician in a health professional shortage area or medically underserved area in the particular state.
- There must be a three year employment contract.
- A letter of support from the State Director of Health for the particular state supporting the physicians Conrad State 30 request.
- A letter of no-objection from the physicians foreign home country.
The immigration attorney Montana can explain the rules of the J-1 waiver and the necessary documents for the physician that holds a J-1visa or J-1 waiver, who may need to file for an extension.
The Conrad State 30 programs are important for having qualified physicians in rural areas where there is a shortage and the enacted legislation contains specific provisions, including:
- The program is nationwide, open to all states and has the flexibility to allow the state to place up to 5 of their 30 state J-1 physicians in an area not designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA). The facility must serve individuals that reside in the HPSA area.
- HHS will maintain authority to designate the Health Professional Shortage Areas.
- The Federal HHS J-1 waiver program is exempt from the H1-B visa cap.
- The Federal HHS J-1 waiver program applies to specialist and primary care physicians. The sponsoring agency must determine the area to be served by the specialist has a shortage in that particular specialty.
The Montana immigration lawyer advice can be invaluable, when dealing with J-1 waiver issues and help to avoid the two year return to the home country of origin, which is a part of holding a J-1 visa prior to being permitted to file for permanent residence in the United States.