Graduates of foreign medical schools can obtain a J-1 visa (education exchange visa) to attend a medical residency or fellowship training program in the U.S. This J-1 visa requires that upon completion of the training program, the foreign physician returns to his or her home country for at least two years, before applying for immigrant status to the U.S. The foreign physician can have this J-1 visa "home-residence" requirement waived, in return for providing primary care or general mental health care in federally designated rural and urban communities that have shortages of primary care physicians or psychiatrists. Foreign physicians usually apply for J-1 visa waivers in the summer before the last year of their training program.
Federal immigration law authorizes each state health department to request waivers of the two-year "home-residence" requirement on behalf of 30 foreign J-1 visa physicians annually.
Of the 30 total slots, the state health department can recommend up to 10 placements (known colloquially as “flex” placements) in areas that are not designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) or Medically Underserved Areas/Populations (MUA/Ps). To qualify, clinicians must serve populations in surrounding shortage area(s) or meet the required extenuating criteria (see Program Description).
Wisconsin's J-1 waiver program can also consider recommending a J-1 visa waiver for foreign physicians in other medical specialties when exceptional need and public interest can be demonstrated.
Between 2005 and 2015, the Wisconsin Conrad 30 Waiver program helped medical clinics in Wisconsin recruit 206 foreign physicians to increase access to primary care and general mental health care in rural and urban shortage areas throughout the state. This program is coordinated with the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security - Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Please contact the Primary Care Program for inquiries on available waiver slots: firstname.lastname@example.org.