North Dakota Conrad 30-J1 Waiver Program

  • Flex - 2 Remaining Slots
  • HPSA - 18 Remaining Slots

North Dakota's Senator Kent Conrad introduced legislation in 1994 that created the Conrad J-1 Visa Waiver program which provides an opportunity for Foreign Medical Graduates or International Medical Graduates, also known as J-1 physicians, to train and practice in the United States (U.S.). The J-1's are physicians from other countries who have received a J-1 exchange visitor visa which allows them to remain in the United States to complete their educational training. Upon completion of their training, the physician must return to their home country for two years before they can apply for a permanent visa in the United States.

The legislation introduced by Senator Conrad waives the two-year home residency requirement but required that the physician practice for three years in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) or Medically Underserved Area/Population (MUA/MUP) if sponsored by an interested U.S. government agency. State government agencies may recommend J-1 physician waiver requests under the Conrad State 30 Program. Thirty waivers are allowed for each state that participates in the waiver program. Ten of the thirty slots (Flex slots) can be used for sub-specialists in non-HPSA/MUA/MUPs. If, by April 1 of each calendar year, any of the 10 slots are unfilled, the slots can be used for any non-HPSA site for any specialty, including family medicine, that serves populations from the HPSA/MUA/MUP areas.

The state of North Dakota participates in the administration of the Conrad J-1 Visa Waiver program as another way to assist communities in obtaining quality healthcare. The program is administered through the North Dakota Deparment of Health (NDDoH) Primary Care Office (PCO) in partnership with the Center for Rural Health.

Healthcare facilities and applicants receiving waivers under this program must each agree to complete annual surveys distributed by the PCO to verify employment.

Procedures for Beginning the J-1 Process

To begin the process, the applicant contacts Stacy Kusler (701-777-3300) or by E-mail at the North Dakota Center for Rural Health to ensure that the applicant and physician meet the requirements to qualify for the waiver. The steps outlined below apply to both the 10 Flex slots allocated to areas that are not located in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) and Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) and the 20 slots utilized by facilities that are located in HPSAs/MUAs.

  • Step 1: Prior to applying for the J-1 visa waiver, an applicant must send a completed Data Sheet (form DS-3035), two self-addressed, stamped, legal-size envelopes (S.A.S.E.) and a filing fee to the U.S. Department of State and receive a case number. The case number must appear on all documents filed with the application. It is recommended that the applicant do this through a qualified immigration attorney to ensure proper filing.
  • Step 2: Application is made to the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) requesting a waiver.
    • To apply for a waiver, a waiver package must be submitted to Stacy Kusler at the Center for Rural Health, working on behalf of the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH), Primary Care Office (PCO) for review. Two copies of the required information and documentation must be submitted in a single package with documents presented in the order set forth in the checklist. All documents must contain the case number assigned by the U.S. Department of State. Waiver requests that do not comply with these requirements will be returned to the submitting healthcare facility for revision.
    • When approved, the PCO will assign review numbers to the J-1 applications in the order they are received.
    • It is recommended that waiver requests be submitted from a healthcare facility or an immigration law firm representing the healthcare facility on behalf of a J-1 physician. For the Flex slots only: one waiver per month per organization will be permitted for review from October 1st through April 1st. If slots remain after April 1st, all applications will be accepted and reviewed in the order received.
    • Applications submitted must contain all required documentation and be ready to submit to the U.S. Department of State. A number will not be assigned until the application has been reviewed for completeness. If any required documentation is missing from the application, the application will be removed from the review list and returned to the applicant. Numbers will not be assigned to returned applications. Another completed application may be resubmitted but will be assigned a new review number and review priority. No amendments to the application will be allowed while the application is under review. This process may be modified or discontinued at any time. The NDDoH reserves the right to recommend or decline any request for a waiver.
    • The NDDoH may prioritize applications to ensure access to healthcare services for citizens of the state and will make the decision whether to recommend a request for the waiver. This process can take two to four weeks.
  • Step 3: If approved, the application will be sent to the U.S. Department of State.
    • U.S. Department of State reviews the J-1 waiver application and considers the state recommendations.
    • If approved, the application/recommendation, is sent to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to provide the final waiver approval. This process may take two to six weeks.