USCIS Announces Extension of J-1 Entry Date for International Medical Graduates to Qualify for “Conrad 30”
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a reminder (PDF) that the date by which international medical graduates must have been granted J-1 nonimmigrant status to later qualify for the “Conrad 30” program has been extended to September 30, 2009. Before this latest extension was granted, the most recent sunset date for qualifying J-1 admission was March 6, 2009.
Under the Conrad 30 program, each state health department may submit a request directly to the Department of State (DOS) to initiate the waiver process for a J-1 medical doctor. This request enables J-1 doctors to obtain a waiver of the two-year foreign residence requirement, if the DOS submits a favorable recommendation to USCIS, and generally will be granted “as long as there are no underlying concerns.” Once the waiver is granted, J-1 doctors must practice medicine for at least three years in a medically underserved shortage area or areas. The Department of Health and Human Services designates the medical shortage areas.
The Conrad 30 (originally Conrad 20) program was established in 1994 to address the shortage of qualified doctors in medically underserved areas, and has been extended several times since then. In 2004, Congress amended the program to exempt J-1 doctors who received a Conrad 30 waiver from the annual H-1B cap, because these doctors must complete their required three-year period of service as H-1B nonimmigrants.
The new sunset date of September 30, 2009, applies to the date the medical doctor originally entered the U.S. in J-1 status or received a change of status to J-1 to complete a residency program in the U.S. Doctors who acquired J-1 status before that date may pursue a waiver of the two-year foreign residence requirement under the Conrad State 30 program if they meet all the eligibility requirements.