Physician Visas: J-1 Waiver Application Timeline

J-1 Waiver Application Process

The waiver application will take several weeks to several months to process at the state level. If approval is recommended the application is forwarded to the State Department’s J-1 Waiver Review Division (WRD) in Washington D.C. The WRD will take 8-12 weeks to conduct their review.

If approved, the application is transferred to the USCIS for final processing of the J-1 waiver. You can expect a processing time of 3 to 4 months.

The sponsoring health care facility then needs to file an H-1B petition with USCIS to change the physician’s status from J-1 to H-1B. This can take anywhere from 2 to 6 months.

Once the waiver is granted and the physician has worked for 3 years for the waiver employer, the physician is free to work for any employer.

[ READ: International Physician Visa Terminology: J-1, H-1B, and Other Helpful Terms ]

Optimal Time to Interview

Start in the spring BEFORE expected graduation from residency or fellowship. For example, if you will complete your program in June 2023, you should be interviewing in March 2022, conducting site visits in April and May, making a decision in June, and securing a position no later than the end of August 2022.

Best Time to File a Waiver Application

J-1 waiver applications should be filed as close to the beginning of the filing window as possible. If the filling window opens on October 1, as it does for most states, be prepared to have everything prepared to turn in as soon as the window opens to ensure you have the best chance of securing a waiver, especially for competitive states.

[ READ: Physician J-1 Visa Waiver Program Options ]

SJA Physician Visa Series

St. John Associates is honored to work with international medical graduates as they seek employment-based pathways to permanent residency. To ease the job search for physician visa applicants, we are creating a series of content highlighting different facets of the process.

For further assistance, please contact one of our physician recruiters.



The information provided here is general in nature and should not be relied on for specific situations. In addition to working with an experienced physician recruiter, St. John Associates recommends that all physician visa candidates consult with an experienced immigration attorney to get the right plan for their specific situation.


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