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J-1 Visa Waiver Program

The 2019 application cycle is open. Potential sponsors for the 2019 application cycle should complete and submit the Notice of Intent to Apply form as soon as possible.  All applications must be postmarked by November 9, 2018. A second application cycle may be added if less than 30 applications are received by this deadline.

Tips for the 2019 Application Cycle

  • Please thoroughly read application instructions and forms and be sure to use only the 2019 application forms.  Check all documents for completeness, accuracy and consistency before submission.  Do not submit additional materials unless requested.

  • Applications from sponsors who submit more than one application will not be reviewed unless the same sponsor-identified representative is named on each application.
  • Application reviews will include evaluation of the sponsor’s adherence to program requirements for current and past participants.


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 has a strong preference for primary care physicians and psychiatrists who will practice in HPSAs.  Applications for other specialties are accepted with adequate documentation of community need.  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

The Ohio J-1 Visa Waiver Program maintains a preference for primary care physicians who will practice outpatient care in safety net sites located in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and physicians who will assist in meeting the state’s behavioral health workforce needs.  Applications will be prioritized in the order listed below and considered in the highest applicable category.

Category 1: Primary Care and Behavioral Health - This category includes physicians who are completing post-graduate training in the primary care specialties of Family Practice, General Internal Medicine, Obstetrics/Gynecology, General Pediatrics, Combined Internal Medicine/Pediatrics, Adolescent Medicine or Geriatrics and will practice in an outpatient setting as well as physicians who are completing post-graduate training in behavioral health including General Psychiatry, Child/Adolescent Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry, Addiction Psychiatry or Addiction Medicine and will practice in an outpatient or inpatient setting. Physicians who have completed post-graduate training in other specialties will not be considered in this category.   

A.  Primary care specialties in primary care HPSAs and behavioral health specialties in mental health HPSAs, including state psychiatric hospitals designated as facility HPSAs.  Physicians who practice primary care or behavioral health specialties in an integrated care site in either primary care or mental health HPSAs are also included in this category.

B.  Primary care specialties in Medically Underserved Areas/Populations (MUA/Ps) on 2019 lists (Eligible Public and Children’s Hospitals in MUAs and Eligible MUA/Ps).

C. All other primary care and behavioral health placements - “flex” slots (proposed practice site(s) located outside of a HPSA or outside of an MUA/P on the 2019 lists).

Category 2: Non-Primary Care - This category includes all specialties not named in Category 1 and primary care specialties who will practice in an inpatient setting (e.g. hospitals, nursing homes). 

A.  Non-primary care specialties in primary care HPSAs and psychiatry subspecialties, other than those listed in Category 1, in mental health HPSAs.  Note that non-primary care specialties may not use a hospital-affiliated primary care facility HPSA to be considered in this sub-category.

B.  Non-primary care specialties in eligible public and children’s hospitals in MUAs on 2019 list.

C.  Non-primary care specialties in MUA/Ps on 2019 list.

D.  All other non-primary care and psychiatry subspecialties placements - “flex” slots (proposed practice site(s) located outside of a HPSA or outside of an MUA/P on the 2019 lists).

 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 physicians in HPSAs located within Appalachian counties.  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 7 or above.  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

Last Updated: 10/1/2018

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