By: Sarah J. Baker, Esq.
Each year, the H-1B "season," which commences when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins accepting H-1B visa petitions on April 1 for an October 1 employment start date, receives significant attention. However, there is another much less publicized, yet vitally important, immigration season that also deserves special mention: the Conrad 30 J-1 waiver program season.
On October 1, following the federal fiscal year, numerous state departments of health will begin accepting applications filed on behalf of foreign medical graduates (FMGs) to waive the J-1 two-year foreign residence requirement. This requirement attaches to all FMGs who come to the United States in J-1 status to pursue graduate medical education, requiring them to return to their home country for a minimum of two years before applying for certain non-immigrant visas, including the H-1B, or seeking permanent residence in the United States.
On September 28, 2012, President Obama signed into law H.J. Res. 117, S. 3245, which includes a three-year extension (to September 30, 2015) of the Conrad 30 J-1 waiver program. The program requirements were set to expire on September 30, 2012.
Pursuant to the Conrad 30 J-1 waiver program, state health departments and agencies can recommend up to 30 J-1 waivers each fiscal year for FMGs who have agreed to practice medicine in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs), mental health HPSAs, Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs), or serve Medical Underserved Populations (MUPs) for 40 hours per week for a minimum of three years. Some states consider waivers for what are known as "flex slots" for FMGs who will be serving patients from a designated area at a worksite location in a non-designated area. States are allowed to grant up to 10 flex slots per fiscal year. If recommended, the waiver is then considered by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and finally, USCIS.
Below are some practical hints for FMGs to consider when evaluating their Conrad 30 J-1 waiver program options:
For additional information and more practical tips on state Conrad 30 J-1 waiver programs, please view: "Practical Guide to Conrad Waivers: Thirty, ... Two, One, Gone!"
Please also do not hesitate to contact a Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group attorney for assistance evaluating your J-1 waiver options.
For more information about LexisNexis products and solutions, connect with us through our corporate site.
These waiver programs can be complex. It's best to consult with an immigration attorney throughout the application process to ensure that applications are complete and nothing is missing to slow it down.
The J-1 Visa viewer program is complex required experienced <a href="http://www.immigrationquestion.com">Immigration attorney</a> to deal it.