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J-1 Visa Waiver Program

DoctorThe Division of Public Health Services (DPHS), Rural Health and Primary Care Section (RHPC), has been given the responsibility within the State of New Hampshire to recommend and process J-1 Visa Waiver applications through the J-1 Visa Waiver Program (also known as the "Conrad State 30 Program".) This program is coordinated with the US Department of State (DOS) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the US Department of Homeland Security.

Under the J-1 Visa Waiver program, each state health department may submit a request directly to the DOS to initiate the waiver process for a J-1 medical doctor. Normally, upon completion of their education, these international medical graduates are required to return to their country or nationality for at least two years before returning to the United States. However, under the J-1 Visa Waiver Program this home residency requirement can be waived. This request enables J-1 doctors to obtain a waiver of the two-year foreign residence requirement, if DOS submits a favorable recommendation to USCIS and will generally be granted as long as there are no underlying concerns. Once the waiver is granted, J-1 doctors must practice for at least three years in a medically underserved shortage area or areas. The Department of Health & Human Services designates the medical shortage areas for each State.

The goal of the New Hampshire's J-1 Visa Waiver Program is to improve accessibility to health care for underserved areas by supporting J-1 Visa Wavier requests on behalf of foreign medical graduates who have obtained a J-1 Visa for graduate medical studies in the United States ("J-1 physicians"). Based on the information provided with a request, the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services may recommend a waiver of the requirement that a J-1 physician must return to the physician's home country for a period of two years after completing the graduate medical studies.

The J-1 Visa Waiver Program allows New Hampshire to sponsor thirty (30) J-1 Waiver applications per federal fiscal year, October 1st thru September 30th for primary care and sub-specialists. Consideration for recommendation will be given to up to ten (10) applicants who meet the criteria of not being in a designated area but who serve patients from a designated area. These J-1 waiver applications will be referred to as "non-designated" areas also known as "flex spots". Preference for J-1 waivers is usually given to physicians in primary care: Family Practice, Pediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Internal Medicine, and Psychiatry. Supportive specialties include: Geriatrics, General Radiology, Hospitalist, and General Surgery.

New Hampshire accepts J-1 Visa Waiver requests year-round and reserves the right to recommend or decline any request for a waiver. Requests for a New Hampshire J-1 Visa Waiver recommendation must be submitted by a health care facility or immigration attorney on behalf of the J-1 physician, and not directly from the J-1 physician. Each application will be reviewed by the DPHS, RHPC to determine whether the application is complete and meets the requirements of the federal and state guidelines. The amount of time necessary to completely process an application varies based on level of accuracy in the initial application. If all materials are in order, the initial review process should take approximately three to five weeks. The sponsoring legal representative will be notified when a decision has been made by the State of New Hampshire. Non-designated/ flex slot applications may take longer. (See J-1 Visa Waiver Guidelines Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol for additional detail.)

J-1 Visa Waiver Frequently Asked Questions & Resources

  • What is a Medically Underserved Area?
    • Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs, MHPSAs) may have shortages of primary care and mental health providers and may be urban or rural areas, population groups or medical or other public facilities. Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) may be a whole county or a group of contiguous counties, a group of county or civil divisions or a group of urban census tracts in which residents have a shortage of personal health services. Medically Underserved Populations (MUPs) may include groups of persons who face economic, cultural or linguistic barriers to health care. E-MUPS- Governors Exceptional Medically Underserved Population Areas.
  • Why is the J-1 Visa Waiver Program so important to rural health?
    • The J-1 Visa Waiver program has been instrumental in maintaining access to healthcare in rural communities when other recruitment efforts have failed. Since the J-1 Visa Waiver is contingent upon a physician working in a HPSAs, MUA/Ps, and MHPSAs, the program produces a win-win situation for the physician and community. The physician is able to stay in the United States to practice and an underserved community gets a much-needed physician.
  • How many waivers are available in New Hampshire?
    • No more than thirty waivers will be granted per federal fiscal year (October 1st thru September 30th). As of 10/1/2008 (Bill S.2672), ten of the 30 waivers may be granted to "non-designated" areas, also known as flex slots
  • Will the New Hampshire DPHS, RHPC find me a job?
    • We do not do direct J-1 placement. We only process J-1 waiver applications that are submitted by a healthcare facility or a sponsoring legal representative.
  • How will I track the process of my application with the State of New Hampshire and Department of State?
    • Contact your immigration attorney for this information. They stay in contact with our office on a weekly basis. The program is unable to provide this information directly to the applicant.

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New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
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