New Guidance Issued on National Interest Waivers and Adjustment Applications for Physicians in Underserved Areas
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has established interim procedures for adjudicating national interest waiver (NIW) immigrant petitions and related adjustment of status applications filed on behalf of physicians practicing in medically underserved areas or at facilities operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in light of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decision in Schneider v. Chertoff. Among other things, physicians with an approved NIW petition will no longer be restricted to a specific time period in which to fulfill the medical service requirement.
USCIS said it is implementing the Schneider decision nationwide not only to ensure immediate compliance with the decision in cases within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit, but also to ensure consistent adjudication of all NIW physician cases nationwide. The interim guidance will be followed by amended regulations to give regulatory effect to the Schneider decision, USCIS said.
In addition, although not mandated by Schneider, USCIS is expanding the fields of medical specialty that may qualify physicians for NIWs by accepting petitions on behalf of physicians who provide “specialty care.” USCIS said it will adjudicate and approve NIW petitions for physicians who work in geographic areas that are designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services as having a shortage of medical specialists for the Physicians Scarcity Area (PSA) program.
Also, the Conrad State 30 Program, established to address the shortage of qualified physicians in medically underserved areas, has been extended until June 1, 2008.