J-1 Visa Waiver Transfer Checklist Part 1

Foreign doctors (IMGs/FMGs) employed in one underserved area (HPSA) and presently serving the 3 or 5 year visa commitment may experience difficulty completing the 3 years J-1 waiver service or 5 year national interest waiver service with the original waiver employer. Some physicians find that they may switch jobs a couple of times during the 5-year waiver service period. Others buy or purchase a practice in a medically underserved area, sometimes, from the original waiver employer.

The USCIS will permit a transfer to a new state, employer and location so long as the physician commits to complete the waiver service in an underserved area. The following is a helpful checklist for those considering such a transfer and demonstrating that extenuating circumstances exist for such:

  • Status of New Location: Does the new practice location qualify as a HPSA, MUA or MUP. If it was once qualified, is the designation current. If the practice location does not qualify, can the state issue a facility designation for that location so that it would likely qualify. A request for a specific site/facility designation is typically easier to obtain than an entire service area designation. A transfer may also be approved for locations that are not designated but provide service to patients in designated areas.
  • Termination Notice on Present Contract: Most physician contracts contain a clause that permits either the physician or the employer to terminate the contract with notice. A review of the present contract will ensure that the appropriate notice provisions are complied with before the termination.


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