Minnesota J–1 Visa and Waiver
The application period for the J-1 Visa Waiver Program opens August 23 and closes October 31, 2023, at 4:30 p.m. Central Time.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is committed to improving access to health care in underserved areas of the state. The Minnesota J-1 Visa Waiver Program, administered by the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care (ORHPC), is one strategy to address the shortage of physicians in rural and underserved urban areas. Due to the difficulties some areas experience recruiting and retaining physicians, many communities turn to International Medical Graduates (IMGs) and J-1 visa waivers to fill their physician vacancies.
The program, sometimes called the Conrad 30 Waiver Program, was created by federal legislation in 1994. The program is intended to help communities recognized as federal shortage areas hire J-1 IMGs where recruitment of U.S.-trained physicians has been unsuccessful. J-1 IMGs may apply to the U.S. Department of State (DOS) requesting a waiver of the J-1 visa requirement to return to the IMG’s home country for two years upon completion of the J-1 exchange visitor program. The waiver allows an IMG to remain in the U.S. to practice medicine in designated service areas.
Any application to the DOS for a J-1 visa waiver must be accompanied by a recommendation from the government of the state where the IMG will practice, confirming that the applicant fills a community need for services. The Minnesota J-1 Visa Waiver Program allows IMGs and their sponsoring employer to seek a recommendation from MDH. As defined by the J-1 Visa Waiver Program guidelines, the employer of the IMG submits their application materials to MDH for review. These applications are reviewed and evaluated by a committee of reviewers. Based on the evaluation results, MDH provides a list of recommendations to the DOS.
Application guidance and process
Through the J-1 Visa Waiver Program, MDH can recommend up to 30 waivers per federal fiscal year for physicians living and working in Minnesota. Generally, MDH receives more applications than it can recommend, and recommendations are allocated through a competitive process.
MDH recommends between 20 and 30 waivers for physicians who will practice at sites located in areas designated by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration as Health Professional Shortage Areas, Medically Underserved Areas, or Medically Underserved Populations.
Up to 10 of the 30 waiver recommendations may be for physicians whose practice site is not located in a shortage area but serves a significant proportion of patients who reside in a shortage area.
Please view or download the:
- 2023 J-1 Visa Waiver Application Guidance (PDF)
- J-1 Affidavit (PDF)
- J-1 Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) updated September 11, 2023
Applications are due Tuesday, October 31, 2023, at 4:30 p.m. Central Time.
Applicants must submit both an online application and a hard copy of their materials. See the above application guidance for details.
The online application can be submitted on the MDH ORHPC online grant portal.
Other resources for internationally trained physicians
Please see below for other programs permitting internationally trained physicians to work in the U.S.
Please submit questions to: MN_health.J1NHW@state.mn.us or call 651–201–3634.