Health care employers in many areas of the U.S. continue to have difficulty recruiting physicians to meet patient needs.

One option that may be useful to health care employers when a U.S. physician cannot be recruited is J-1 Waiver sponsorship of an international medical graduate.  Barring unusual circumstances, J-1 waiver sponsorship should result in a full-time employment contract with a highly qualified international medical graduate for a period of 3 years.

For eligible employers, sponsoring a J-1 physician is done by filing an application with an appropriate government agency, often a state health department.  Most employer-sponsored J-1 Waiver applications are filed by healthcare providers that are located in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) or Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) or that treat underserved patient populations.  This includes the Conrad 30 J-1 waiver program in which all 50 states participate.  There are also a few region-specific waiver programs such as ARC (Appalachian Regional Commission), the SCRC (Southeast Crescent Regional Commission), and the DRA (Delta Regional Authority), and waiver applications can be filed with HHS (Health and Human Services), among other agencies.

“J-1 Waiver Season” for the Conrad 30 Waiver program generally begins on October 1st with the start of the federal government’s fiscal year.  So if you haven’t done so already, now is a good time to consider J-1 Waiver sponsorship.

Sponsorship of a foreign national physician through the J-1 Waiver process can help meet patient demand and provide consistency of care over the 3-year commitment period.  Further, during the 3-year period, the physician may become well established in an area and agree to stay beyond the 3-year commitment.  This can greatly benefit underserved patient populations and bring much-needed relief to over-burdened providers.

To learn more about this topic, please contact your Fox Rothschild immigration attorney or the author at or 412-394-5540.

Catherine Wadhwani is a Partner and Co-Chair of the Immigration Practice Group at Fox Rothschild LLP.  For more than 25 years, her practice has focused on business immigration law and compliance, primarily in the health care, general corporate and academic sectors.  Ms. Wadhwani’s practice covers the United States and Consulates worldwide.  She is based in our Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania office.  Please contact Ms. Wadhwani at  or at 412-394-5540.