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Visa Waiver Programs

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Conrad 30 Waiver Program

The purpose of the Conrad 30 Waiver Program is to improve access to qualified medical doctors within federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas and Medically Underserved Areas/Populations to address health disparities in Florida.

The Conrad 30 Waiver program allows J-1 visa holders who are medical doctors to apply for a waiver of the 2-year residence requirement upon completion of the J-1 exchange visitor program. Please see section 214(l) of the Immigration Nationality Act (INA) for additional information. The program addresses the shortage of qualified doctors in medically underserved areas.

 Each state is allowed to sponsor up to 30 physicians each year. It is anticipated that the Florida Department of Health will receive more Conrad 30 Waiver applications for sponsorship than the maximum allowed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Participation by the Florida Department of Health is voluntary. Submission of a complete waiver application package does not ensure the Florida Department of Health will sponsor a physician for a waiver.

Applicants must obtain the sponsorship of a state health department when applying to the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In Florida, that sponsorship is administered through the Department of Health

Beginning this year, there are significant changes to the Florida Department of Health Conrad 30 Waiver Program. These guidelines are in accordance with DOH Rules 64W-1.002-008, which are effective as of August 12, 2021. 

Physician Eligibility

  1. Applicants must currently reside in the USA.
  2. Applicants must have a U.S. Department of State (USDOS) case number at the time of application.
  3. Applicants must have only applied for a Conrad 30 Program sponsorship from the Florida Department of Health.
  4. Applicants must have a current Florida medical license or have submitted a complete medical license application prior to requesting sponsorship.

Employer Eligibility

  1. The sponsoring facility/employer and all practice site locations must accept Florida Medicaid clients and be actively billing Florida Medicaid, whether through Fee-for-Service or as a Medicaid Managed Care plan provider.
  2. All physicians at the practice site location must accept Medicaid. The applicant physician cannot be the only physician in the practice accepting Medicaid.
  3.  All employers, facilities, and practice locations must be physically located in Florida.

Employment Contract Eligibility

For an employment contract to be considered eligible, it must include:

  1. Signatures of both the physician and employer.
  2. Date the document was signed.
  3. Contact name, physical address, mailing address, phone number, and contact’s email address for each practice location.
  4. A statement that the physician will practice a minimum of 40 hours per week of direct patient care.
  5. A minimum three-year term of full-time employment, including the specific start and end dates.
  6. A statement that full-time employment shall commence within 90 days after the waiver is approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Any language that adds caveats to this statement shall make the contract ineligible.
  7. A description of the geographic area served by the facility.
  8. A clause stating that the Florida Department of Health Primary Care Office will be notified in writing at least 60 days prior to the termination of the contract by either party or immediately upon termination if an immediate termination occurs.
  9. There shall not be any non-compete clauses and
  10. Termination of employment provisions shall provide that termination is only for cause.

If the submitted employment contract is missing any of these requirements, a contract addendum will be required that adds the missing elements.  Likewise, if the submitted application includes a non-compete clause and/or a termination without cause clause, an addendum will be required that removes those provisions from the contract.  The addendum can cover both additions and deletions – one addendum for each is not required.

Application Requirements

The following documents must be submitted to the department to be evaluated for sponsorship:

  1. A completed Conrad 30 Waiver Program Florida DOH Sponsorship Application (DH8006-PHSPM-07/2021).
  2. Physician Agreement (DH8007-PHSPM-07/2021).
  3. Physician Attestation of Exclusivity (DH8008-PHSPM-07/2021).
  4. Employer Practice Location Attestation (DH8009-PHSPM-07/2021).
  5. Specialist Addendum - if physician is not a primary care physician (DH8010-PHSPM-07/2021).
  6. Flex Addendum - if any practice site is not located in a HPSA (DH8011-PHSPM-07/2021).
  7. Practice Facility Cover Letter
  8. A copy of Employment Contract
  9. Evidence of Shortage Designation Status: A copy of the Health Resources & Health Administration (HRSA) “Find Shortage Areas by Address” query result for each practice site location.
  10. A copy of Florida Medical License or copy of completed license application showing the Initial Application ID as issued by the Florida Department of Health
  11. Physician Curriculum Vitae
  12. A copy of the Physician’s Statement of Reason as submitted as part of the USDOS Form DS-3035.
  13. A copy of USDOS Form DS-3035 with all bar code pages as received from the USDOS.
  14. A copy of all applicable USDOS Form DS-2019/IAP-66 received from the USDOS
  15. A copy of USDOS Form G28 as submitted with USDOS Form DS-3035

Sponsorship Priorities

  1. The state’s highest priority for sponsorship is primary care physicians practicing in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) at outpatient ambulatory care sites in rural communities, as defined in section 381.0406, F.S., and serving a Medicaid patient volume of 30% or greater.
  2. Applicants not practicing in the highest priority will be prioritized according to specialty (primary care over specialists), HPSA score, practice location (rural over urban), percent of patients served by Medicaid and sliding fee scale, and practice type (ambulatory outpatient care practices over safety net hospitals and critical access hospitals, followed by all other types of inpatient care facilities)
  3. The Department will sponsor applicants based on these priorities.
  4. If there are applications that have equal priorities for the last available slot(s), the application(s) will be re-evaluated based on the aforementioned priorities. If there are still applications that are equal, the State Surgeon General, or designee, will select the final applicant(s).
  5. If the State Surgeon General determines that there is a critical shortage, Department staff will forward to the  State Surgeon General (or their designee) all applications deemed complete for the specified specialty and/or in the specified geographic location, for the State Surgeon General’s (or designee’s) determination of sponsorship.  These applications will take precedent, superseding all other priority criteria, with the remainder of the available slots being filled based on the priority criteria listed in (1).

Application Processing

Application packages will only be accepted beginning at 8:00 am on the first Monday of October and must be received no later than 5:00 pm 10 business days thereafter.  Applications must be mailed to:

The Florida Department of Health
Division of Public Health Statistics and Performance Management
State Primary Care Office
4052 Bald Cypress Way Bin #A05
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1720.

For the 2021-2022 application year, the Department will accept applications beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, October 4, 2021, through Friday, October 15, 2021, at 5:00 p.m.  Monday October 11th is a holiday for the USPS.  UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the state of Florida are all open for business, so the application period will not need to be extended, barring any unforeseen circumstances that might occur.

At the close of the application cycle, Department staff will review the information contained in the application packet.  Any application deemed incomplete by the Department shall not be eligible for recommendation to the State Surgeon General (or designee).

Correspondence and/or communication between employers, physicians, or attorneys with Department staff will not take place during the review and prioritization of applications.  

After final approval by the State Surgeon General (or designee), Department staff will notify each applicant on his or her sponsorship status by email.  This shall occur on or before December 31, 2021.  The Department will send sponsorship application packets to the USDOS on or before December 31, 2021.

Additional Information

  • Every field of the Florida Conrad 30 Waiver Program Application must be completed. The Department will only accept applications submitted on the new application form.
  • It is recommended that the applicant’s USDOS case number be on the bottom right corner of each document to assure accurate review and processing at the USDOS and the USCIS.
  • It is recommended that each application include a table of contents and 8½” x 11” section dividers to assure accurate review and processing at the USDOS and the USCIS. Section dividers are preferred to be of colored paper and should not have tabs that exceed the 8½” x 11” size.
  • It is recommended that applications not use staples or two-prong fasteners. Binder clips and rubber bands are preferred.
  • Only one copy of the application packet is needed. Additional copies will be shredded.
  • For information regarding the J-1 Visa, visit: USDOS J-1 Visa
  • For information regarding the USDOS application instructions, visit: USDOS
  • For information regarding health professional shortage areas, visit the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Shortage Designation website.

Continued Eligibility

The physician and employer may complete and submit to the Department the Conrad 30 Waiver Program Practice Status Report on or before June 30 of each year during the three-year waiver service period.

If the physician and employer choose not to submit the form annually, they must submit the form at the end of the 3-year employment period in order to receive a completion letter from the PCO Director.

Modification, Termination, or Violation

In the event of a termination of employment, the employer must notify the Department in writing within five business days of the termination.

Contract changes which result in a change in practice scope must be presented in writing to the Department at least ten business days prior to the change.  The change in scope must be clearly explained and follow all eligibility criteria in Rule 64W-1.003, F.A.C.

Contract changes which result in the relocation of the physician from the employer’s current approved site(s) to a new site(s) must be presented in writing to the Department at least ten business days prior to the change.  The employer notification must include the name and address of the new location(s), the reason for the change, and verification that the new site(s) are located within a designated shortage area.  If the new site(s) are not located in a designated shortage area, then a Flex Addendum is required to be submitted to the PCO director.

Contract changes that result in the transfer of the physician to a different employer must be presented in writing to the Department at least ten business days prior to the change.  This includes physicians transferring from one Florida provider to another Florida provider, from an out-of-state provider to a Florida provider, or from a Florida provider to an out-of-state provider. 

 Transfer requests must include:

  • A cover letter from the physician indicating the intent to transfer, reasons for the transfer and proof of the extenuating circumstance(s), intended date of transfer, and intent to continue upholding all requirements of Rule 64W-1 F.A.C.
  • A letter from the current employer indicating the release of the physician and reasons for termination of employment. If the physician is unable to obtain a letter from the current employer due to the extenuating circumstance(s), the physician shall clearly state this in their letter and provide detailed explanation as to why the letter cannot be obtained.
  • A letter from the new employer stating their desire to hire physician.
  • Physician Agreement (DH8007-PHSPM-07/2021).
  • Physician Attestation of Exclusivity (DH8008-PHSPM-07/2021).
  • Employer Practice Location Attestation (DH8009-PHSPM-07/2021).
  • Specialist Addendum (DH8010-PHSPM-07/2021), if physician is not a primary care physician.
  • FLEX Addendum (DH8011-PHSPM-07/2021), if any practice site is not located in a HPSA.
  • Employment Contract from new employer that incorporates all eligibility requirements inRule 64W-1.003(3) [see Employment Contract Eligibility section above].
  • Evidence of Shortage Designation Status: A copy of the HRSA “Find Shortage Areas by Address” query result for each practice site location, and
  • Florida Medical License, if physician is relocating into Florida.

Violation of any of the employer eligibility criteria in Rule 64W-1.003 may result in denial of future requests for visa waivers.

HHS Exchange Visitor Program

This program allows physicians to obtain a waiver of the J-1 Visa two-year home residence requirement.  Physicians must practice primary care clinical medicine full time in a designated health professional shortage area (HPSA score of 11 or greater) for a three year period.

National Interest Waivers (NIW)

National Interest Waivers are available for physicians of exceptional ability that show it is of national interest he or she remain in the United States.  Physicians must practice clinical medicine full time in a designated shortage area for a five year period.

NIW/HHS Transfer Requests

If a physician has a NIW or is an HHS Exchange Visitor and they want to transfer from one Florida employer to another Florida employer, from an out-of-state employer to a Florida employer, or from a Florida employer to an out-of-state employer, then a transfer request should be presented in writing to the Department at least ten business days prior to the transfer.

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