Why is a Waiver Needed?
J-1 visa status authorizes an International Medical Graduate (IMG) to do Graduate Medical Education (GME) in the
All J-1 clinical physicians – no exceptions – need to return for two years to their home countries following conclusion
Unless the two-year home residence obligation is waived, a J-1 physician is ineligible for an H-1B visa and/or
Therefore, it is necessary to get a waiver of the two-year home residence obligation in order to get H-1B eligibility
which, in turn, is the visa status that will enable an IMG to work as a physician in the United States.
Steps to the J-1 Waiver Process
A physician must secure a bona fide offer of employment from an eligible employer that will sponsor an International
Medical Graduate (IMG) for a J-1 waiver and a change into H-1B status. Depending on the state, a provider may also
need a state license prior to applying for the waiver. Note: some state’s licensing process can take a long time so
they may grant a waiver while the license is processing so as to not slow everything down.
IMG must apply for case number from the U.S. Department of State.https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/study- exchange/student/residency-waiver/ds-3035-instructions.html
The health care facility applies for a J-1 waiver from the state department of health.
The state department of health (different in each state) sets guidelines that must be met to show that the physician
will enhance health care access in medically underserved areas of the state. Processing time may vary by state
department of health. Contact your state PCO to find out their processing time.
U.S. Department of State reviews the J-1 waiver application and decides whether to recommend the waiver be
granted (4-6 weeks).
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reviews J-1 waiver application and issues final approval (at least 2-6
IMG receives the H-1B work visa after the J-1 visa waiver is approved by the U.S. Department of State.
IMG must begin work within 90 days of receiving J-1 waiver approval from USCIS.
Once You Find a Candidate You Want
A J-1 visa is specific to one employer (i.e. in most instances a candidate cannot moonlight). Ask an immigration
attorney if you have questions!
The employee can sign an employment contract, but cannot work until they have the J-1 waiver and H-1B work visa.
Inquire as to whether the candidate has family that will also need assistance with the immigration process.
Conrad 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program
Navigating the J-1 Visa Waiver Hiring Process