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J-1 Visa Waiver Program

The 2017 application cycle for the Ohio State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program is closed. Information on the 2018 program year (October 2017 through September 2018) will be posted here as soon as it is available.


Please submit the 2018 Notice of Intent form available below as soon as possible to assist in planning for the new program year.


Tips for the 2017 Application Cycle

  • Please thoroughly read application instructions and forms and be sure to use only the 2017 application forms. Check all documents for completeness, accuracy and consistency before submission. Do not submit additional materials unless requested.
  • A new priority category has been created to address the state’s addiction treatment workforce needs.
  • ODH has the sole discretion to limit the number of waiver recommendations for sponsors who submit multiple applications and for those who currently sponsor physicians serving in the Ohio J-1 Visa Waiver Program. Applications from sponsors who submit more than one application will not be reviewed unless the same sponsor-identified representative is named on each application.
  • Placement of hospital-based non-primary care physicians using hospital primary care facility Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) designations will no longer be permitted. Hospital-based non-primary care physicians may still apply to the Ohio State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Programs using other HPSA, eligible MUA/P or flex slots. Please refer to the "2017 Hospital Primary Care Facility HPSAs" document under the "Forms and Resources" section below.


The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) participates in the State 30 Program to increase access to health care services for Ohio’s underserved populations.  J-1 visa waivers allow foreign medical graduates to remain in the United States after completing residency/fellowship training in exchange for a three-year commitment to provide health care services in underserved areas. Primary care and mental health HPSAs, certain Medically Underserved Areas/Populations (MUA/Ps), and certain public and children’s hospitals located in MUAs are considered as underserved areas in the Ohio State 30 Program.  Of the 30 slots available each year, up to 10 "flex" slots may be used for placements outside of underserved areas, if an adequate level of service to residents of these areas is documented. Qualified international graduates granted waivers must provide direct patient care for 40 hours per week and provide health care to all patients regardless of their ability to pay.

The State 30 Program operates on the federal fiscal year.  A non-refundable fee of $3,571 is required for each application.  Recommendations for waivers in the State 30 Program are issued by the Director of Health to the U.S. Department of State (DOS).  If DOS finds the state request to be in the public interest, it recommends the waiver to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the waiver-granting authority.   


The State 30 Program is open to all physician specialties, although the preference is for primary care physicians who will practice in HPSAs.  Physicians seeking J-1 waivers may not apply directly to ODH; applications are accepted only from sponsoring health care organizations.  Sponsoring health care organizations as well as J-1 physicians must accept Medicaid, Medicare and uninsured patients, and must provide services on a sliding fee scale based on 200 percent of the current federal poverty level.   

Program Priorities

While the Ohio State 30 Program maintains a preference for primary care physicians who will practice in HPSAs, the 2017 program priorities include physicians who will assist in addressing the state’s addiction treatment workforce needs. Applications will be prioritized in the order listed below and considered in the highest applicable category (e.g. an application that meets both Category 1 and Category 2 requirements will be considered in Category 1).

  1. Primary Care - Physicians who complete post-graduate training in the specialties of Family Practice, General Internal Medicine, Obstetrics/Gynecology, General Pediatrics, Combined Internal Medicine/Pediatrics, Adolescent Medicine or Geriatrics and will be practicing primary care. Physicians who complete post-graduate training in General Psychiatry, Child/Adolescent or Geriatric Psychiatry and will practice in an outpatient setting are also considered in this category.
    • Primary care specialties in primary care HPSAs and psychiatry specialties in mental health HPSAs.
    • Primary care specialties in MUA/Ps on 2017 lists (Eligible Public and Children's Hospitals in MUAs and Eligible MUA/Ps).
  2.  Medical and Behavioral Health Care for Addiction Treatment - Primary care and psychiatry specialties as defined above who will practice in integrated care sites serving patients with substance abuse disorders. Physicians specializing in Addiction Medicine and Addiction Psychiatry are also considered in this category.
    • All specialties in this category in either primary care or mental health HPSAs, e.g. a primary care physician may practice in a mental health HPSA and a psychiatrist may practice in a primary care HPSA.
    • All specialties in this category in MUA/Ps on 2017 lists (Eligible Public and Children's Hospitals in MUAs and Eligible MUA/Ps).
  3. Other Applications - Non-primary care specialties, including primary care specialties who will practice in inpatient settings (e.g. Hospitalists, Emergency Medicine) and all "flex" slots.
    • Category 1 and Category 2 applications outside of HPSAs and MUA/Ps on 2017 lists - "flex" slots.
    • Non-primary care specialties in primary care HPSAs and psychiatry subspecialties in mental health HPSAs.
    • Non-primary care specialties in eligible public and children's hospitals in MUAs on 2017 list.
    • Non-primary care specialties in MUA/Ps on 2017 list.
    • All other non-primary care placements - "flex" slots. 

Other J-1 Visa Waiver Programs

In addition to the State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program, J-1 visa waivers are available in Ohio through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The ARC program is open only to primary care physicians in HPSAs located within Appalachian counties. The program is coordinated by ODH, with recommendations to ARC issued by the Governor. The HHS program is open only to primary care physicians sponsored by Federally Qualified Health Centers and certified Rural Health Clinics located in HPSAs scoring seven or above. The program is not coordinated by ODH, but does require a letter of support or acknowledgement by ODH. For more information about the ARC or HHS programs, please contact the Primary Care Office listed below.

Forms and Resources

For more information on shortage area designations and Appalachian counties:

For more information on ARC, HHS, DOS or USCIS, please visit the following links:

For more information:

Ohio Department of Health
J-1 Visa Waiver Program
Primary Care Office
246 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Telephone: (614) 466-1629
Fax: (614) 564-2432

Last Updated: 9/18/2017

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