North Dakota's Senator Kent Conrad introduced legislation in 1994 that provides an opportunity for Foreign
Medical Graduates or non-U.S. Citizen International Medical Graduates (IMGs) under a J-1 visa to immediately
begin practicing in the United States after the completion of training.
The J-1 visa allows the IMGs to remain in the U.S. until they complete their studies. Upon completion of their
studies, the IMGs on J-1 visas (J-1 physicians) must return to their home country for at least two years before
they can return to the U.S. to work. The legislation introduced by Senator Conrad, known as the Conrad 30 Waiver
Program, waives the two-year home residency requirement for the J-1 physician if he/she agrees to practice in a
federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) or Medically Underserved Area/Population (MUA/MUP)
for a minimum of three (3) years. An interested U.S. government agency, such as a state department of health,
may request waivers for J-1 physicians.
State departments of health may recommend up to thirty (30) J-1 visa waivers per year. While the program
encourages waivers to be used for J-1 physicians providing service in federally designated HPSAs, MUAs, and
MUPs, up to ten (10) of the thirty (30) waivers can be used for non-designated (“flex”) areas.
The state of North Dakota voluntarily participates in the administration of the Conrad 30 Waiver program as
another way to assist communities in recruiting quality healthcare workforce. The program is administered
through the North Dakota Department of Health’s (NDDoH) Primary Care Office (PCO) in partnership with the Center
for Rural Health.