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Immigration Bill Lowers Hurdles for Foreign-Born Docs

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, June 10, 2013

"The Senate introduced over 300 amendments to the bill but I don't think any of them were concerning the physicians' part of the bill. That is relatively non-controversial," he says.

"What is controversial is it legalizes 11 million people that are undocumented. That's where the problem is as far as this passing. In the Senate I can almost guarantee it will get one pass by the end of the month. The big debate is will it get 60 votes or 70 votes. There are about five Republicans who are definitely on board and pretty much all the Democrats but if they can get 70 they figure that will have an influence on the House. If they can get about 30-40 Republicans in the House to sign on it's going to be a done deal, but that is the big 'if' now in the House of Representatives.'"

Shusterman provided a synopsis of the reforms proposed in the immigration bill.

Proposed Changes to the J Visas and Waivers:

  • The pending legislation would make the Conrad program a permanent part of the immigration law. J status for foreign-born physicians completing medical residencies/fellowships would be classified as a "dual intent" status, similar to H-1B and L-1s
  • A physician could no longer be denied J status on the ground that he or she did not intend to return to his country of origin. Spouses and children of J-1 physicians would no longer be subject to the two-year home residency requirement.
  • The number of Conrad waivers available to a state could be raised in increments of five depending on the usage of waivers in various states during the previous year. In addition, the number of J waivers available to physicians working in academic medical centers outside of medically underserved areas could be raised by three per year under certain conditions.
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