House passes Conrad 30 extension, senate has the final say

Past few months have seen the House being plied with proposed legislations and a majority of them are stewing in the freezer. Fortunately, it seems the Bills that are urgent in their context are being pushed forward. One such example is the legislation H.R. 5571, which proposes to extend the Conrad State 30 (J1 Waiver) program for another five years, was passed by the House on May 21st 2008. The current bill is set to expire on June 1, 2008.

This program allows US states to obtain a J-1 visa waiver of the two years residency requirement, to directly hire up to 30 foreign physicians annually to practice in medically underserved areas. Each doctor is allowed tenure of 3 years.

Going by the reports of shortage of medical personal in US, passing the Bill will come as relief for both the deserving sectors as well as the doctors currently working under the program.

There is some confusion as to what this meant for physicians seeking the waiver. Since the Senate has yet to pass the extension, as of now physicians who are already in the program can remain until their tenure is up, but the program cannot take on new physicians until the bill is officially signed. Once the Senate consents, the bill will then be signed by the President.

The Bill, which would have otherwise expired on June 1, 2008, is been extended with only a change of the title to “A bill to extend for 5 years the program relating to waiver of the foreign country residence requirement with respect to international medical graduates, and for other purposes.” The Bill was put forward by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California, who have also put forward the Bill proposing to convert Diversity Lottery Numbers to the a new H1B Advance Degree Quota for aliens.

The Bill is currently open for comments. You can mail your comments to:

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Conrad 30 Program or J-1 Waiver

The Conrad 30 (J-Waiver) is a program that allows US States to staff medically underserved areas with foreign physicians who have received their medical training in the United States under the J-1 visa. It’s alternately called the J1-Waiver as the 2-year foreign residency requirement for physicians is waived under this program in order to remove the red tapes and make it easier to hire staff for the underserved area.

Conrad 30 can be availed by the any interested government agencies need to employ physicians to work in areas where there is a severe shortage of medical manpower. The program allows physicians to work in the US for 3 years as a nonimmigrant temporary worker in a specialty occupation. Of course employer or institute needs to make sure all local human resources have been exhausted before filling the position. And the institute or agency also needs to prove that the physician will be working for a designated underserved area, which is determined as so by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The Conrad 30 Program is a necessary program, both for the physicians and for the US. While the physicians are allowed to gain some experience immediately by working in the underserved areas, US is also able to avoid any medical crisis due to shortage of manpower. As it is indicated by the recent extension of the Schedule A nurses visa program and the other numerous efforts to increase the visa numbers for medical personal being hired for underserved areas, it is clear that the US genuinely requires more medical personal. We are keeping our fingers crossed in the hopes that the Bill will be officiated soon.