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Office of Primary Care / Provider Relations, Recruitment, & Retention   

Conrad 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program

The State of Oklahoma recognizes the importance of having quality physicians that can provide healthcare to all residents, and has made efforts to address physician shortages with the use of J-1 Visa Waivers.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health is authorized* to provide up to 30 J-1 visa waivers each year to physicians willing to enter into a 3-year employment contract in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) or Medically Underserved Area (MUA). Only two waivers can be granted to any single county each year, and only one waiver is allowed per employer each year.  

Many communities throughout the country experience difficulties in attracting physicians to meet their health care needs. To address the need for physicians in underserved areas, states and federal agencies are able to recruit foreign physicians who have just completed their graduate medical education in the United States. Many of these foreign physicians entered the United States on temporary visas, called J-1 visas. Once they have completed their graduate medical education, these physicians are required to return to their home country or country of last legal residence for at least 2 years before they may apply to stay permanently in the United States or for certain temporary work visas. This foreign residence requirement can, however, be waived in certain circumstances, including at the request of a state or federal agency if the physician agrees to practice in an underserved area for at least 3 years.  J-1 visa waivers are granted by the Department of Homeland Security at the recommendation of the Department of State.

Description of the Waiver Review Process
Applications for J-1 Visa Waivers are accepted each year beginning October 1st and will remain open until all available waiver slots are filled.  
Request for a waiver of the foreign residence requirement must be made by a local health care facility (clinic or hospital) directly to the OSDH Office of Primary Care / Provider Relations, Recruitment, & Retention. Upon request, an information packet can be sent detailing the process and documentation required for this program.  

Only 30 J-1 Visa Waivers can be granted per state per year.  Each case file will be assigned a priority number. The non-shortage area requested applications (up to 10 of the 30) will be reviewed in the same manner as other applications.  
If OSDH decides to recommend a waiver, the application and letter of support will be sent to the U.S. Department of State. The representative on the G-28 form and the sponsoring employer will be notified when the application is sent (usually within two weeks of receipt of the application packet).  
The U.S. Department of State will check with the organization that issued the IAP-66 "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status," who authorized the applicant’s initial travel to the United States. If the organization has no objections to the applicant being granted a waiver on the foreign residency requirement, and the case has all the necessary documentation, the U.S. Department of State will forward the package to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) with a favorable recommendation. The USCIS will inform the requestor and the OSDH of its decision.  
    • Oklahoma J-1 Visa Program Checklist
    • J-1 Visa Affidavit and Agreement Form
    • Additional Program Details and Contact Information
*Participation in the Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program is solely at the discretion of the state. The submission of a complete waiver package to OSDH does not guarantee its approval. In all instances, OSDH reserves the right to make a recommendation for or to decline a request for a J-1 Visa Waiver.

Contact Information
Jana Castleberry
Contact for J-1 Visa Waiver Programs
Office of Primary Care
1000 NE 10th Street, Room 915
Oklahoma City, OK 73117-1299
Phone: (405) 271-9444, ext. 56520
E-mail: JanaC@health.ok.gov

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