Bills that would extend a program designed to bring physicians into
underserved rural areas and inner cities have passed the House and Senate
and were awaiting resolution by a conference committee.
At issue is extension of the waiver program for the temporary J-1 visa,
which the US government issues to foreign students receiving an education
in US schools. After graduation, these individuals must then leave the United
States for 2 years before they can apply for an immigrant visa, permanent
US residence, or an additional nonimmigrant visa. However, a waiver to the
J-1 visa was granted to foreign physicians acquiring US graduate medical training
who agreed to practice medicine in underserved areas for 3 to 5 years once
their training ended. The waiver expired on June 1, but under the House and
Senate bills it could be reinstituted by certain government agencies such
as the Department of Health and Human Services and state health departments.
Mitka M. MD Visa Waivers. JAMA. 2004;292(18):2205. doi:10.1001/jama.292.18.2205-b