Conrad 30 visa waivers are an opportunity for every state in the United States to hire foreign medical graduates. Foreign medical graduates are typically foreign nationals who complete medical school in another country, but do a residency in the United States. Conrad 30 visa waivers, also known as J-1 waivers, are only available in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) or Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs). Additionally, the department of rural health in each state maintains statistics and designations on each such area, so it is always best to start the process with a phone call to the appropriate state agency. That agency can inform you as to the availability of a Conrad 30 position in your area.
Each state is allowed to place 30 Conrad waivers per year, and many of the Western and Intermountain rural states do not come anywhere near this quota. It should also be noted that every state has different requirements and restrictions. Some states only allow a very limited number of primary care practices, while other states allow a combination of primary care practices and some specialties. Once the foreign medical graduate accepts the position, the lengthy and complex application process begins. The application typically starts with a DS-3035 form filed for the physician, which includes biographical information and immigration history.
Then, the main application is filed with the state Department of rural health, or equivalent agency. Some states have a filing fee, others do not. Once the state processes the application, it is then forwarded to the United States Department of State. Assuming the Department of State approves the application, it is then forwarded to USCIS. Upon approval by USCIS, the application for an H – 1B visa can be processed.
Timing is critical for Conrad waivers. Once the physician finishes his or her residency, there is only a 30 day grace period to stay in the United States. Even with premium processing, it can be very difficult to complete the entire Conrad waiver process and obtain the H-1B approval before the 30 day grace period lapses. Accordingly, there are times when the physician must return to his or her home country.
The Conrad 30 waiver requires the physician to commit to a three year contract with the employer.
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