How long does the Conrad 30 J-1 Visa Waiver application process take?
The Conrad waiver application will take several weeks to several months to process at the state level. If approval is recommended, the application is forwarded to the U.S. State Department’s J-1 Waiver Review Division (WRD) in Washington, DC. The WRD will take 8 to 12 weeks to conduct its review. If approval is recommended by the WRD, the application is transferred to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for final processing of the J-1 Waiver. The sponsoring healthcare facility will then need to file an H-1B petition with USCIS to change the physician’s status from J-1 to H-1B Nonimmigrant Worker to facilitate the start of post-training work with the employer. The physician must then serve out the 3 year period with the employer/J-1 Waiver sponsor in order to fully waive the 212(e) two year home residency requirement.
Sponsoring a foreign physician in this manner opens up a new, talented pool of physicians for hospital and physician groups to hire. Although the legal process is multi-faceted and complex, working with an experienced business immigration attorney can make the process much more manageable and transparent.
Don’t miss your window of opportunity
This overview of the Conrad 30 Program deadlines is designed to help you plan, interview, obtain necessary Visas and file J-1 Waiver applications without missing your window of opportunity.
Know optimal time to interview:
Interviewing foreign physicians will start the summer before expected graduation from residency/fellowship (for example, if a doctor will graduate in Summer ’18, candidates should be identified, ideally in Summer ’17—though new candidates may be secured any time before the 30 Conrad slots expire in the state);
Know when to file a waiver application:
J-1 Waiver Applications should be filed as close to the beginning of the filing window, usually in Sept. or Oct., as possible, though new filings can be made up to the expiration of the 30 slots depending on the rules of each State Program;
Factor in time for an H-1B Visa:
H-1B status must be obtained before the foreign physician can begin work at the facility – and note, a state medical license must be secured before the H-1B visa status can be issued by USCIS.
Allow enough time for State Dept. Review Board:
In order to make the July/August start date, employers will want to make sure the J-1 Waiver application has progressed to the State Department Waiver Review Division in the April to the early May timeframe.