Physician Shortage Relieved by International Doctors

ABC News Radio released on article on June 1, 2017, discussing the current state of physician immigration. ABC discusses that many rural and urban areas face a severe shortage of physicians, and this burden has been relieved by foreign doctors. Through a special visa waiver program, an estimated 1,000 international physicians each year are hired to work in underserved American communities.

What is the problem?

On April 3rd, 2017, USCIS temporarily suspended premium processing for visas of foreign physicians. This has left many racing against the clock, hoping to secure a place in the United States.

The article follows one doctor, Almatmed Abdelsalam, from Libya, who started applying for a waiver through the Conrad 30 waiver program. The Conrad 30 program allows each state to exempt up to 30 international physicians each year from having to return to their home country after training in the U.S. In exchange for the waiver, these doctors are required to work in underserved communities for at least three years. The application process involves approvals from the state health department, the Department of State, and USCIS.

Once the waiver is approved, physicians then usually need to obtain an H-1B visa, but with the suspended premium processing, these applications no longer receive expedited review. The purpose of the suspension is to process an already existed backlog of petitions.

The Rural Health Research Center found that between 55 to 80 percent of doctors receiving J-1 waivers intend to continue practicing in their communities past the commitment, meaning once these doctors come to the U.S., they tend to stay.

Read the full ABC article here.

Categories: Immigration News