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J-1 Visa Waiver

Having quality physicians is essential to providing healthcare in rural communities. In many cases, the ability of healthcare facilities to remain open depends on having an adequate staff of physicians. Unfortunately, rural areas often experience difficulties in the recruitment and retention of physicians. Due to these difficulties, many communities turn to the recruitment of foreign medical graduates who trained on a J-1 Visa to fill their physician vacancies.

The J-1 Visa is an exchange visitor visa that can be used by students. International medical graduates pursuing residency and fellowship training in the United States often have J-1 Visas. The J-1 visa allows holders to remain in the U.S. until their studies are completed. At the completion of their studies they are expected to return to their home countries for two years before applying to re-enter the United States.

A J-1 Visa Waiver waives the two year home residency requirement and allows a physician to stay in the country to practice in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) or Medically Underserved Area (MUA) if recommended by an interested federal government agency. State government agencies may also recommend J-1 physician waiver requests through the Conrad State 30 program.


For assistance in locating practice sites in rural and underserved areas throughout the country, visit 3RNet State J-1 Visa Contacts.

For additional information regarding HPSA or MUA designations, contact your state Primary Care Office or the Shortage Designation Branch: or 888.275.4772. Press option 1, then option 2.

There are more organizations related to J-1 Visa Waiver in the organizations section.

Frequently Asked Questions

Last Reviewed: 5/28/2014

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Funding for this project was supported by Grant Number U56RH05539 from the Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents of this website are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the funder.