Visa program on track for extension
NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Dec. 13, 2004
President Bush is expected to sign into law a bill extending the J-1 visa program for two years. The program is used to recruit international medical graduates to work in medically underserved communities.
The House recently approved a version that reconciles differences between a previous House version and a bill the Senate passed in October.
The visa waiver program exempts qualifying IMGs from the two-year home return requirement of the J-1 student visa. Instead of having to leave the country once their medical residencies are over, J-1 visa holders may stay and apply for the H-1B work visa, if they agree to work in an underserved area for at least three years.
The new bill also exempts those who receive a J-1 waiver from the cap on H-1B visas. Only 65,000 are issued annually -- a limit that was reached the first day of this fiscal year.
Other changes in the program include allowing sponsors to hire either primary care or specialist physicians and up to five physicians to work in regions not designated as underserved but drawn from communities short on health care professionals.
Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/12/13/prbf1213.htm.