2020-2021 Program Application Status

The application cycle for the 2020-21 fiscal year is October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021. We are currently accepting applications for the 2020-21 fiscal year. Please check the site periodically for future changes.

J-1 Visa Waiver Process

The California Department of Health Care Services, Primary and Rural Health Division, administers the J-1 Visa Waiver Program under the guidelines and requirements provided by federal statute and regulation.

California J-1 Visa Waiver applications are reviewed in the order received.

  1. Applications are submitted to the J-1 Visa Waiver Program beginning October 1st according to the J-1 Visa Waiver Application Instructions.
    *Only one application may be submitted per shipment.
  2. Completed applications will be forwarded to the U.S. Department of State (DOS).
  3. Applicants may check the status of their application at the DOS.
  4. The DOS determines its recommendation and forwards the application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Application Instructions

The J-1 Visa Waiver Applicant and Employer must provide information for all sections and subsection headings outlined below and order them in the completed application as they appear in the Application Package Content and Order listing below. Applications must be submitted in the order described below, separated by a page divider, and appropriately labeled with the name of the document. Print or stamp the applicant physician’s review or case number from the United States Department of State (DOS) on all application pages.

Application Package Content and Order

Order

  1. Letter: Submit a letter signed by the administrator of the sponsoring employer for which the applicant physician will be employed to include the following:
    • Name of the sponsoring Employer and National Provider Identification (NPI) number
    • Name of the J-1 Visa Waiver applicant physician and NPI
    • Requests that California’s Department of Health Care Services (Department) act as an interested government agency and recommend a waiver for the J-1 Waiver applicant physician
    • Describes the health facility including the nature and extent of its medical services. Provide a description of the service area demographics including income, average Federal Poverty level, primary language, age make-up of residents, patient population mix, etc., how the employer and J-1 Visa Waiver applicants’ services is consistent with the Department’s mission, and other pertinent information to illustrate the community the physician will serve
    • States the facility provides medical care to both Medicaid (Medi-Cal) or Medicare eligible patients and indigent uninsured patients. List the percentages of total patient population for each practice site (Medicaid, Uninsured, and Medicare)
    • Describes the applicant physician’s qualifications, proposed responsibilities, and how his/her employment will satisfy important unmet health care needs of a medically underserved community
    • Describe how the J-1 Visa Waiver applicant physician will provide services to a caseload that is comprised of at least 30% Medicaid (Medi-Cal) patients or a 30% caseload comprised of a combination of Medi-Cal and uninsured patients throughout the three year contract period
    • Include a statement identifying the applicant’s field of residency and the completion date
    • Specialist application (only) effective July 1-September 30: the sponsoring employers must state the “need” for the specialty position. The sponsoring employer must describe the need for a proposed specialty at the worksite location(s) using population based data relevant to the proposed specialty (morbidity, mortality, population/physician ratio etc.) Please refer to the J-1 Visa Waiver Guidelines
    • Describe in chronological order how the health facility has attempted to locate qualified American physicians
    • States unequivocally that the facility is offering the applicant physician at least three years of employment how the health facility will assure that the applicant physician will serve that need and describes the detailed plans for the applicant physician during and beyond the three year obligation
    • Describes the effect on the underserved if the waiver application is denied
      1. A valid contract of employment signed and dated between the J-1 Visa Waiver applicant physician and the sponsoring health facility. The contract must include the following:
        • Name of the J-1 Visa Waiver applicant. and Include a description of the his/her services that they will provide ( i.e. Family practice, General Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, OB/GYN, General Psychiatry)
        • States the J-1 Visa Waiver applicant will practice for at least three (3) years for no less than forty (40) hours per week providing primary care services
        • States the applicant and employer will provide services to a caseload that is comprised of at least 30% Medicaid (Medi-Cal) patients or a 30% caseload comprised of a combination of Medi-Cal and uninsured patients throughout the three year contract period
        • States the practice site(s) address and county. If there are multiple practices sites, list each site with the address and days and hours at each site
        • Identification of the salary for a J-1 Visa Waiver applicant must be listed in the contract and it must be equal to the prevailing wages of the area. (Refer to Foreign Labor Certification Data Center Online Wage Library for salary verification.)
        • The contract shall not include a non-compete clause enforceable against the applicant physician
        • Include a statement that the J-1 Visa Waiver applicant agrees to begin employment within ninety (90) days from the date the USCIS grants a waiver and approval to work
      2. Copy of the health facility’s federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA), Medically Underserved Areas/Populations (MUA/MUP) status for all sites where the applicant physician will or might be providing services
      3. Documentation from the local health care official (county health officer/director) stating the need for services of the applicant physician
      4. Evidence of recruitment and retention efforts during the past year made to American candidates for the same position the health facility intends to fill with a foreign applicant physician (e.g., copies of advertisements, agreements with placement services, flyers for health fairs, etc., all with dates clearly identified).
  2. Information required from the J-1 Waiver applicant physician:
    • The completed Waiver Review Application Data Sheet (form DS-3035)
    • The DOS File Number Notification (aka third party barcode page) and the DOS case number must appear on every page submitted with the application
    • Physician curriculum vitae (CV) that includes physician’s name, address, date of birth, and city and country of birth
    • Letters of recommendation for J-1 Visa Waiver applicant physician
    • Legible copy of passage of examinations required by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): either Flex parts I and II OR all 3 steps of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)
    • Legible copy of California medical license OR a copy of the application to the Medical Board of California AND evidence of receipt by the MBC. Refer to Medical Board of California Senate Bill (SB) 798 regarding changes for current residents and/or prospective residents, who will apply for a Physician’s and Surgeon’s Certificate with the Medical Board of California (Board) in 2020.
    • Legible copies of all DS-2019 (formerly IAP-66) of the applicant physician covering every period (year) he/she was J-1 Visa status. Forms must be submitted in chronological order with the “Beginning a new program” first
    • Legible copies of I-94 of applicant physician and his/her family members (front & back)
    • Four (4) separate attestations, signed and notarized (notary must include California jurat verbiage. Please refer to Notary Handbook 2019 for acceptable jurat verbiage):
      • An attestation that the J-1 Visa Waiver applicant of his/her requirement to provide services to a caseload that is comprised of at least 30% Medicaid (Medi-Cal) patients or a 30% caseload comprised of a combination of Medi-Cal and uninsured patients throughout the three year contract period. The sponsoring employer and J-1 Visa Waiver applicant physician must sign
      • An attestation or statement of “No Objection”: The applicant physician must submit a copy of a statement of no objection from their home government if he/she is contractually or financially obligated to return to the home country. In the event that the applicant physician is NOT contractually or financially obligated to return to the home country, the applicant physician mus​t submit a signed and notarized attestation to that effect
      • An attestation from the J-1 Visa Waiver applicant physician that he/she has not other waiver request pending with another government agency
      • An attestation from the J-1 Visa Waiver applicant physician of his/her commitment to comply with J-1 Visa Waiver requirements
  3. California Authorization for Release of Information (PDF) form with an original signature by the applicant physician. The applicant must identify the attorney, employer, or other designated recipient to discuss his/her J-1 Visa Waiver application
  4. Federal G-28 or letter if represented by an attorney.

Packaging

  • Submit two unbound single-sided copies of the complete application (one original, one copy) to the J-1 Visa Waiver Program.
  • Applications must be submitted in the order described above, separated by a page divider, and appropriately labeled with the name of the document.
  • Do not include documents that are not required by DOS or the California J-1 Visa Waiver program.
  • Applications are to be submitted to the J-1 Visa Waiver Program according to the instructions above. Please note that the Department will begin accepting applications on October 1st of each year. If October 1st falls on a weekend, applications will be accepted on the first business day following October 1st. Only applications received on or after the starting date will qualify for review and consideration.
  • Each application package must be shipped sepa​​rately. Shipments that contain more than one application will be returned.  

Courier Mail

Healthcare Workforce Development Division
Attention: J-1 Visa Waiver Coordinator
2020 W El Camino Ave
Sacramento, CA 95833

United States Postal Service (USPS)

Healthcare Workforce Development Division
Attention: J-1 Visa Waiver Coordinator
2020 W El Camino Ave
Sacramento, CA 95833

Program Guidelines

  • Effective October 1 – June 30 each Federal Fiscal Year, the California J-1 Visa Waiver program targets primary care physicians who have completed a U.S. residency training program in one of the following practice areas: Family Medicine, General Pediatrics, and General Obstetrics/Gynecology, General Internal Medicine or General Psychiatry. 
  • The primary care physician must practice primary care medicine full-time at a health facility that is located in a geographic area or areas that are designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), Medically Underserved Area (MUA), Medically Underserved Population (MUP) or psychiatric care in a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area (MHPSA)
  • Effective July 1-September 30, applications will be accepted from primary care physicians and specialists.  All applications will be held for a 30 day period and prioritized in the following order: primary care physicians working in a rural clinic located in a HPSA, MUA, MUP, MHPSA followed by an urban clinic located in a HPSA, MUA, MUP, or MHPSA; cardiologist, gerontologist, or pediatric subspecialist working in a HPSA, MUA, MUP; lastly, other specialist working in a HPSA, MUA, or MUP.  Sponsoring employers must document the need for a proposed specialty using population based data relevant to the proposed specialty (morbidity, mortality, population/physician ratio etc.)
  • The applicant physician must provide services to a caseload that is comprised of at least 30% Medicaid (Medi-Cal) patients or a caseload that includes a combination of at least 30% Medi-Cal and uninsured patients throughout the three year contract period.  The sponsoring employer and physician must sign an attestation to this effect.  Should slots remain available on  September 15, this patient threshold requirement may be dropped for the remainder of the cycle. 
  • The sponsoring employer must provide a certified copy of the contract detailing the full-time employment of the applicant physician at said health facility. The contract must contain a provision that requires the applicant physician to work at the health facility in which he/she is employed for a total of not less than three years. The applicant physician must agree to begin employment within 90 days of receiving a J-1 Visa Waiver. Additionally, the applicant physician’s position must be full time (40 hours per week)
  • Recruitment/retention efforts must be described by the sponsoring employer. It must be clearly demonstrated that a suitable American replacement for the applicant physician cannot be found through recruitment or any other means 
  • The applicant physician must meet all medical licensure requirements for the state of California
  • The J-1 Visa Waiver applicant must submit all documents and forms completely in the proper sequence as identified in the Application Instructions or the application will be returned unprocessed.

About the Program

Federal law requires that foreign physicians seeking to pursue graduate education or training in the United States must obtain a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa.  Upon completion of their studies, the physicians must return to their home country for at least two years before they can return to the U.S.  Physicians who are subject to the two year home country residence requirement may apply for a waiver of that requirement with a recommendation from an interested state health department.

The California J-1 Visa Waiver Program is located in the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD).  OSHPD is the single state agency that administers the State’s Medicaid Program (Medi-Cal).  The mission of the Medi-Cal Program is to improve the health status of low income Californians by assuring access to appropriate health care services.  California is allowed 30 J-1 Visa Waiver recommendations during the federal fiscal year (October 1 – September 30).  Recommendations are forwarded to the U.S. Department of State.  The Department of State reviews the application and makes recommendations to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as to whether or not the residency waiver should be granted.  The USCIS makes the final determination and informs the applicant and the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development of their decision. 

In California there remains a critical need for primary care physicians.  California’s J-1 Visa Waiver Program gives priority to applications from primary care physicians who will work in federally designated underserved areas.  Primary care physicians include:  internist, family practice, pediatrician, psychiatrist, and OB/GYN.

Program Contacts

For more information, contact the J-1 Visa Waiver Coordinator.

Email
J-1VisaWaiverProgram@oshpd.ca.gov

Mail
Healthcare Workforce Development Division
Attention: J-1 Visa Waiver Coordinator
2020 W El Camino Ave
Sacramento, CA 95833