House Subcommittee Approves Bill Allowing Some Foreign Doctors To Practice in United States
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims on Thursday approved a bill (HR 4453) that would extend a visa program that allows HHS to request that the Immigration and Naturalization Service waive return-home requirements for some foreign doctors who trained in the United States under J-1 Visas, CQ Today reports (Schuler, CQ Today, 6/3). Under INS rules, immigrants admitted to the United States to participate in educational exchange programs receive a J-1 Visa, which requires that they return to their home nations for two years after the program before they can apply 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 U.S. Department of Agriculture often has played the lead federal role in seeking the waivers, and state health departments also are permitted to request such waivers (California Healthline, 12/18/02). The current waiver program expired May 31. Under the House bill, doctors in the program would be allowed to remain in the country for at least three years if they practice in areas that have a shortage of doctors. The subcommittee rejected an amendment that would have extended the program for five years and would have given states the ability to declare "areas of need" outside those already characterized as underserved, CQ Today reports. The measure is expected to encounter "little opposition" this year, according to CQ Today (CQ Today, 6/3).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.