House Approves Expansion of J-1 Visa Program To Allow Foreign Doctors to Extend Their Stays in the U.S.
The House yesterday passed a measure to expand a program that allows foreign doctors to extend their stay in the United States if they agree to serve in rural or other underserved areas, the AP/Nando Times reports (Quaid, AP/Nando Times, 9/26). Under Immigration and Naturalization Service rules, immigrants admitted to the United States to participate in educational exchange programs receive a J-1 Visa, which requires them after participating in the program to return to their home nations for two years before applying for an immigrant visa, permanent residence in the United States or an additional nonimmigrant visa. However, certain government agencies can request a waiver of the two-year home residence requirement for physicians who agree to practice in underserved areas for three to five years. The Department of Agriculture typically plays the "lead federal role" in seeking the waivers, but state health departments are also permitted to request such waivers (California Healthline, 7/2). Under the bill (HR 2215), states would be allowed to increase the number of waivers they can request from 20 to 30. The measure would allow "hundreds" more foreign doctors to practice in underserved areas, the AP/Times reports (AP/Nando Times, 9/26). The House originally approved a measure similar to yesterday's in June by a vote of 407-7 (American Health Line, 7/2). Yesterday's measure was included as part of the Justice Department appropriations bill, which passed the House on a 400-4 vote. The bill is now pending in the Senate (AP/Nando Times, 9/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.