Getting More Out of the J-1 VIsa Process

Oct 20, 2020

As a physician recruiter, you’ve likely hired or considered hiring a physician who required a J-1 visa. Comprising one-third of the physician workforce, foreign-born candidates play a critical role helping with the physician shortage. No matter how much experience you have with hiring J-1 candidates, you have something to gain from our Inline Session with Sid Chary, an immigration lawyer who focuses on the J-1 process for physicians and healthcare facilities. In the session, he discussed how hiring teams can get as much as possible from the experience when hiring J-1 physicians. 

J-1 Visas and Physician Retention

When you hire a J-1 candidate, they are contractually obligated to stay with your facility for a minimum of three years. This means your team has a guaranteed three years to retain this candidate beyond the visa program. Post J-1 sponsorship, these physicians can apply to change their visa status to H1-B or they can obtain lawful permanent residency. By getting involved in this process and showing your physician’s you’re invested in their future, you increase the odds they’ll stay with your facility.

Planning for your J-1 Visa

You’ll need to plan in advance - the visa process can take 7-12 months. When you consider that in seven months, you’ll gain access to 30% more candidates. As the hiring facility, your responsibility is to obtain a J-1 waiver. This waiver is what allows you to hire physicians who have applied for the actual visa.

Working with Immigration Lawyers

The most important thing to remember when working with an immigration lawyer is asking for a flat fee. The common practice among immigration lawyers is charging a flat fee for their service. If they ask you to pay an hourly rate, this is a red flag that they don’t have much experience in immigration law. Also, keep in mind that fees will vary by state. You’ll have to pay federal fees, filing fees, and attorney fees. 

J-1 Waiver Eligibility

Many factors determine if you qualify for a waiver. The main qualifier is your HPSA score. As long as your score is over seven, you can apply. This score is determined by the need for healthcare in your community. Typically, FQHCs and those serving underserved populations qualify. You can check your facility’s score here.

While this process can seem intimidating, there’s no need to stress over it. With multiple resources available to aid you through the J-1 process, there’s no reason your facility can’t utilize this portion of the physician workforce. To watch the full Inline Session with Sid Chary on J-1 visas, click here: Access Full Session