Update On J-1 Waivers for Physicians In Washington State

Historically, Washington State has been slower to fill its 30 allocated J-1 waiver physician spots than many other states.  As of this writing, the Washington State Health Department has published that it has received 17 applications for J waivers so far, with 9 applications fully approved.  The State has already received 10 specialist petitions, and 5 of those are fully approved.

What next?

  • We are presently in a timeframe where primary care applications for health professional shortage areas are the only ones which have a guaranteed spot.
  • On January 15th, the State will open up the application window for primary care FLEX spots—positions which are not in a health professional shortage area but which serve an underserved population.
  • On April 1st, the agency will approve additional Specialist applications. As the agency has not approved all 10 Specialist petitions received yet, it may still be worthwhile to inquire on handling of Specialist applications in the interim, in case one or more of those received so far is non-qualifying.

J-1 waiver applications require that the sponsor show that at least 15% of the total patient visits are for Medicaid or other low income patients.  Employers have to be able to document at least six months of unsuccessful recruitment in the last year for the position.  Employers also must have a sliding fee scale, which is posted for patients, and there are specific employer-physician contract requirements.

Facilities and physicians interested in seeking a Conrad J-1 wavier based on the Washington State program should not tarry.  It is hard to predict how fast the remaining spots will go.  Last year, a few spots remained until the very end of the year.  If recollection serves me, the year before, the agency received 34 applications for 30 slots, well in advance of the end of the year.  Oregon last year filled up long before the end of the year.

We have a great deal of experience helping facilities and physicians navigate the Conrad waiver process, all the way to permanent residence. It is meaningful and rewarding work, which we care greatly about. Feel free to contact us if you’d like to schedule a consultation.

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