J-1 Visa Waiver Timelines
Application and Job Search Processes
Job Search process
- Start your job search 12-18 months prior to when you can potentially start working.
- You need to narrow down WHERE you want to work.
- Know which state(s) you are interested in so you can figure out what all you need to apply.
- Know which facilities are eligible (i.e. are in a HPSA or an MUA depending on the state).
- Your visa is specific to one employer (i.e. in most instances you cannot moonlight). Ask an attorney if you have questions about this!
Once you find a job you want
- You’re like any other resident trainee – you need a job. Once you find a job, you need to make sure you’re eligible to work at said job.
- Let the employer know you’re looking for a visa sponsorship.
- Facilities can ask during interview process
- Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?
- Do you need visa sponsorship?
- Facilities can ask the following follow-up questions:
- What is your current status?
- What visa sponsorship is needed?
- How much time do you have left in your current status?
- You can sign an employment contract, but you cannot work until you have that waiver and the H-1B work visa.
What you need to apply
- A job offer where your employer will sponsor your J-1 visa waiver and H-1B work visa.
- State license – depending on the state. (e.g. Washington’s licensing process can take a while so they may grant a waiver while the license is processing so as to not slow everything down).
- October 1 - states can start issuing J-1 waivers for the next year (This does NOT mean they MUST start this date).
- You need to have a job in place and application complete prior to October 1. This may vary by state – check with the PCO to be sure.
Steps to the J-1 waiver process
- A physician must secure a bona fide offer of employment from an employer that will sponsor the IMG for a J-1 waiver and a change into H-1B status
- IMG must apply for case number from the U.S. Department of State.
- The health care facility applies for a J-1 waiver to 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 coverage of medically at-risk populations.
- Ten waivers can be used for non-medically underserved placements that serve people residing in shortage areas. The state can use at their own discretion.
- Covers primary care and specialty care physicians. States can limit to primary care if they choose.
- U.S. Department of State reviews the J-1 waiver application (4-6 weeks).
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reviews J-1 waiver application and issues final approval (at least 2-6 weeks).
- IMG must begin work within 90 days of receiving the approval from USCIS.