J–1 visa flex waivers
How to apply for a flex waiver
In general, in order to qualify for a J–1 visa waiver, a physician must show that the proposed practice is located within a designated health care shortage area. Federal law permits up to 10 of the state’s 30 annual waiver slots to be used for practice locations outside of designated shortage areas, when the employer can demonstrate that it serves a significant number of patients who live in shortage areas. These waivers are generally referred to as “flex 10” or “flex” waivers.
In addition to all other documentation required for a J–1 visa waiver, an application for a flex waiver outside of designated shortage areas must contain documentation that the facility where the physician will practice has sufficient patients who live in designated shortage areas to support at least one Full Time Equivalent (FTE) physician of the specialty provided by the physician named in the waiver application.
Number of flex applications available
The Minnesota Department of Health may recommend no more than 10 flex applications in any federal fiscal year (October—September 30).
In addition to the information required for all J-1 visa waiver applications, the following facility specific information needs to accompany a flex waiver application. If the physician will provide services in more than one facility, the application should provide the necessary documentation for each facility. To receive a favorable recommendation, an application for a flex waiver must at a minimum:
- Include all documentation required for a standard J–1 visa waiver. The description of the facility should relate to the physician's principal practice location. If the physician provides specialty services other than primary care, the documentation should be specific to the specialty being considered. For example, documentation relating to prior recruitment efforts should relate to efforts to recruit the same specialty. The application should demonstrate that a full time position in that specialty can be supported by the demand for those services in the service area.
- Document the existence of a shortage designation for each service area included in the application.
- Document the percentage of the facilities patients of the relevant specialty that live in designated shortage areas. Include the calculations used to reach this percentage.
- Document the existing need for the physician in the facility where the physician will provide services.
- Document the need for the physician within the designated underserved population of the service area.
For more information, contact:
800–366–5424 (in Minnesota)