Temporary Policy Changes for Certain Foreign Medical Graduates During the COVID-19 National Emergency

During, and in response to, the  COVID-19 public health emergency, USCIS continues to take action to protect U.S. workers while also providing resources needed to combat the spread of COVID-19.

USCIS is providing guidance (PDF, 340.75 KB) to officers in relation to former J-1 foreign medical graduate physicians who have received a waiver of the two-year foreign residence requirement under section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  

These foreign medical graduates are former J-1 exchange visitors who currently practice medicine in the United States as H-1B nonimmigrant physicians based on interest from a government agency, or through the Conrad State 30 program created by Congress.  

USCIS is providing flexibilities for these foreign medical graduates who are assisting in the fight against COVID-19—saving lives, reducing the strain on over-worked hospital workers, and improving access to necessary medical care. These flexibilities include:

  • Telehealth. USCIS will allow these physicians to deliver telehealth services during the COVID-19 public health emergency, provided the physicians continue to serve their intended population. USCIS notes that if an employer offers these foreign medical graduates the flexibility to telework from their home, it must offer those same flexibilities to its U.S. workers similarly employed. 
  • Waiver of Certain Immigration Consequences of Failing to Meet the Full-Time Work Requirement. USCIS will not consider these physicians to have violated their contracts with their employers if they are temporarily unable to work full-time due to illness, reduced hours at healthcare facilities, or other impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a limited flexibility and only relates to the foreign medical graduate’s eligibility for future immigration benefits that would be affected by the re-imposition of the two-year home residence requirement as the result of a contract violation. It does not otherwise affect a petitioning employer’s responsibilities under the statutes and regulations relating to H-1B nonimmigrants.

From https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-to-covid-19.