The U.S. Department of State has been experiencing delays in processing various types of applications, including J-1 waiver recommendations for Conrad 30 and other types of J-1 waiver applicants.
The Conrad 30 waiver process requires that a State Department of Health recommend a physician for waiver of the two-year foreign residency requirement, based on certain commitments by the physician and their employer, including a commitment to work for full-time for three years in a clinical capacity, in a medically underserved area or in the service of a medically underserved population.
The application process is time-consuming. First, the State’s recommendation must be obtained, which in some cases can be a competitive process to present the greatest need. Second, the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division must review the recommendation and issue its own recommendation. This recommendation is then forwarded to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, and more specifically, their Vermont Service Center, for final issuance of an I-612 receipt notice and then waiver issuance. The waiver will include a list of conditions of employment, as well as the specific site(s) where work is authorized.
Presently, the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division is taking two to three months to issue its recommendation. This could change, and in the past the agency has usually been quicker, but such is the state of affairs now. The Vermont Service Center meanwhile is having a terrible time issuing receipt notices and processing I-612 waivers. It appears that they are starting to address the issue now. On June 16th, USCIS issued the following news alert:
USCIS Transfers Certain H-1B Petitions to the California Service Center
Release Date 06/16/2022
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced today that certain H-1B petitions and fiscal year (FY) 2023 H-1B cap petitions awaiting intake at the Vermont Service Center (VSC) are being transferred to the California Service Center (CSC) for data entry and adjudication. We are transferring these cases in response to the H-1B receipt issuance delays at the VSC. Please continue to file petitions based on the addresses provided on the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker page.
This workload transfer will help us issue receipt notices for properly filed H-1B petitions more quickly. Please allow time for the CSC to process the transferred cases and do not submit duplicate petitions out of concern that your previous submission did not arrive or has been misplaced. If your petition is transferred, you will not receive a transfer notice, but you will receive a receipt notice as soon as your petition is receipted. Petitions will be worked to completion at the CSC once transferred. For inquiries about case status, please use the petition receipt number.
We continue to experience receipt issuance delays in other workloads across some service centers. We are actively trying to reduce these delays.
USCIS has said in the past that they will issue an H-1B petition based on a Department of State recommendation, but sometimes the agency will still issue a Request for Additional Evidence, seeking the waiver receipt notice and/or waiver approval from the Vermont Service Center.
Employers and their physicians should be prepared for these delays. Sometimes an expedite request can be arranged, but it depends on the circumstances.
Meanwhile, the Washington State Department of Health currently says it has used 27 of its 30 spots for the year. The new window for application for Conrad 30 waivers will open on October 1st. Applicants should begin preparation for applications far in advance of October 1st, due to certain application requirements (e.g. recruitment, licensing, Medicaid/Low Income statistical information, and documenting underserved needs). In recent years, the agency has received more than the initially accepted 10 specialist spots.