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Idaho’s Hidden Advantage for J-1 Waivers: An MD Recruitment Boon for Idaho Hospitals and Clinics

Thursday, April 17, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Joy Ingram
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by Adam B. King, Attorney at Law, P.C., Ketchum, Idaho


With MD recruiting getting tougher every day, many health care employers are considering hiring Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs), foreigners who are finishing their residencies in the USA.


Idaho’s health care providers have a hidden advantage: Each US state can grant only thirty J-1 Waivers per year, which puts hospitals and clinics in populous states such as Washington in a race to apply. Idaho has never come remotely near the thirty mark, so J-1 Waivers are always available.


Most foreign medical residents in the US are subject to Immigration and Nationality Act 212(e) which requires the resident on a J-1 visa to return to his or her country of citizenship or last country of residence for two full years prior to re-entering the US on a work visa.  Fortunately, this requirement can be waived by employers in HPSAs (Health Professional Shortage Areas) and MUAs (Medically Underserved Areas), allowing the MD to come directly from residency to serving an underserved patient population. FMG MDs bring employers the advantage of US residency training, a wider recruitment pool, diversity, and often very valuable language skills.


Idaho also recently expanded the practices that can be granted J-1 Waivers (with this author assisting in drafting the legislation.)   As of July, 2014, general surgeons were added to the existing list of family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, and psychiatry. A J-1 Waiver MD must make a minimum three-year commitment to the employer. National Interest Waivers are also available in Idaho with a five-year commitment.


A Conrad-30 J-1 Visa Waiver petition is quite complex and requires significant advance planning to carefully and properly document recruitment methods.   The J-1 Visa Waiver application is first submitted to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and is evaluated under a set of highly detailed and specific requirements. Once the application is approved by the State of Idaho, it is forwarded to the US Department of State for approval. Upon final approval, the MD can acquire an H-1B visa, which is valid for a three- to six- year period, and sets the stage for the Green Card process, known as PERM.


Adam B. King practices in the Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho area and assists health care clients in Idaho and Washington with the complexities of health care immigration.


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