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Capitol Health Call
November 10, 2004

MD Visa Waivers

JAMA. 2004;292(18):2205. doi:10.1001/jama.292.18.2205-b

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.