What is a Conrad waiver?
U.S. federal law requires that foreign physicians seeking graduate education in the United States must obtain a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa. In order to qualify for the J-1 visa, applicants must demonstrate “non-immigrant intent,” which means they commit to returning to their home country when their visa expires. More specifically, graduating physicians are required to return to their respective home countries for two years before they are eligible to return to the United States.
The Conrad 30 waiver program allows qualifying medical doctors to apply for a waiver for the 2-year residence requirement upon completion of the J-1 exchange visitor program. Enacted in 1994 by the U.S. Congress, the Conrad J-1 waiver program currently grants each state’s health agency the opportunity to sponsor a maximum of 30 physicians every year for J-1 waivers, based on a desire to work in a rural or underserved community in the state for at least 3 years.
The requirements for Conrad 30 state health agency J-1 waivers vary from state to state. California looks for primary care physicians who have completed a U.S. residency program in one or more of the following areas: General Pediatrics, General Obstetrics/Gynecology, Family Medicine, General Internal Medicine, or General Psychiatry.
J-1 visa waiver applications are forwarded to the U.S. Department of State, which will review the application and make recommendations to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) as to whether your residence waiver should be granted. The USCIS retains ultimate authority in making a decision as to your eligibility and will inform the California Department of Health Care Services of its decision.
Unsurprisingly, California is one of the most competitive states for a Conrad waiver spot. Furthermore, the J-1 visa waiver application instructions for California are extensive and may seem intimidating to navigate for non-English speakers. Therefore, it is highly advised that you speak with a knowledgeable immigration professional to have the best chance at procuring one of the few annual spots available for foreign medical doctors.
The value of the Conrad 30 waiver program is indispensable, not only for the benefits directly incurred by the medical doctor, but also because of the immigration avenues available to qualifying family members upon completion of the program. Once a recipient has fulfilled all conditions imposed by the Conrad 30 waiver program, he or she (as well as his or her spouse and children) is eligible to apply for:
- An immigration visa;
- Permanent residence; or
- H (high-skilled) or L (intracompany transfer) nonimmigrant visa.
The immigration professionals at Yekrangi & Associates are proud to help immigrants to the United States, especially valued professionals who would like to make a difference in underserved communities.
Why Having an Immigration Attorney is Crucial
The immigration process is complicated, and individuals who attempt to take on immigration law alone have the potential to harm their case. An experienced immigration attorney can guide you through the application process and help you gather the necessary evidence and documentation related to your case. Having an attorney on your side can increase the chances of getting your waiver application approved.
If you or a loved one needs assistance with immigration waivers, our team of experienced immigration lawyers can help. Contact Yekrangi & Associates at (949) 478-4963 for more information about how we can help you with all your immigration needs.
 As designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services as a Health Professional Shortage Area (“HPSA”), Medically Underserved Area (“MUA”), Medically Underserved Population (“MUP”), or psychiatric care in a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area (“MHPSA”).
 Immigration and Nationality Act §214(1).