J-1 Waivers for Physicians Specialists Update- Washington State

Conrad 30 waivers still remain available for a few physician specialists slots in Washington State, as of this writing. Washington State opens the window for filing on October 1st each year, and allows up to 10 specialist spots with the initial filing. The State then left the window open only for primary care applications, plus FLEX spots as of January 15th. The window for specialist petition then re-opened on April 1st, and spots yet remain.

In recent years, the full 30 slots have been taken, and they’re usually close to gone by now. The same is true for Oregon.

A new 30 spots will also open up on October 1st. Based on recent experience, I expect the Washington State Department of Health will once again receive more than 10 specialist petitions, and it is likely they will select from those 10 spots based on the degree of need for the specialist, based on merits presented with the specialist addendum.

For employers and physicians looking at an October 1st application, it is important to make sure the required six months of recruitment has been conducted ahead of the filing date. For specialist petitions, getting the best foot forward in terms of demonstrating “need” can also take substantial time.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services now accepts primary care applications for facilities with a HPSA score of above 7.0, having set aside former facility limitations. This has led to an increase in filings of waiver applications through this program, and perhaps has opened more specialist slots here as a result.

There appears to be slowly growing interest in Congress in improving this program, overall. The need for more solutions for facilities and providers continues to be clear, and there are many solutions on the table, but action is painfully slow in DC. Most things having to do with immigration end up hitting roadblocks. The Conrad 30 program is in a perpetual state of Congressional renewal, despite calls to make the program permanent and improve upon its framework.