WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), alongside Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) announced the re-introduction of the Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act. This bipartisan legislation would allow international physicians to remain in the United States upon completing their residency under the condition that they practice in areas experiencing doctor shortages. The legislation would also help increase the number of doctors available to work in underserved areas.
“Even before the pandemic, each of Nevada’s 17 counties was designated as health shortage areas,” said Senator Rosen. “Far too many Nevada communities lack enough medical providers to meet patient needs, limiting our ability to fully recover from the effects of COVID-19. We must take commonsense action to address our state’s physician shortage. I’m proud to help reintroduce this important bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the “Conrad 30” program that allows special visas for immigrant doctors to work in medically underserved areas. I will continue working to address our state’s physician shortage and expand access to quality health care for all Nevadans.”
BACKGROUND: Senators Angus King (I-ME), John Thune (R-SD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) are co-sponsors of this legislation. Companion legislation in the House of Representatives was reintroduced by Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL).
Currently, doctors from other countries working in America on J-1 visas are required to return to their home country for two years after their residency has ended before they are allowed to apply for another visa or green card. The Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act allows international doctors to stay in the United States without having to return to their home country on the condition that they agree to practice in a medically underserved community for three years. The “30” refers to the number of doctors per state that can participate in the program.
This legislation will extend the program for three years, allow the 30 doctor threshold to be expanded, and improve the visa process. The bill also allows the spouses of doctors to work and provides worker protections to prevent the doctors from being mistreated. A version of the bill was included as an amendment in the comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013.