Washington, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik helped introduce the Directing our Country's Transfer of Residency Slots (DOCTORS) Act. This legislation addresses nationwide physician shortages by reallocating unused waivers from the Conrad 30 visa waiver program to states, like New York, that use their maximum number of waivers. 

The Conrad 30 waiver program exempts foreign-born medical school graduates who came to the United States on the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program from the requirement that they return to their country of origin after their visa expires. Each state is allocated 30 waivers under the program and are distributed on the condition that recipients agree to practice medicine for three years in a Health Professional Shortage Area, Medically Underserved Area, or Medically Underserved Population. In 2021, only 24 states used their maximum 30 allocated waivers, with 376 waivers going unused. New York has used all 30 waivers every year since 2002. 

“As the physician shortage is expected to deepen across the U.S., our legislation will help provide rural and underserved areas with accessible, quality, and affordable healthcare,” said Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. “Mitigating Upstate New York and the North Country’s physician shortage and working to close the gap in coverage remains one of my top priorities. I have long advocated for the use and success of the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program in NY21 to incentivize more trained physicians to come to our most rural areas.”

“Since 2009, over 50 waivers have been given to foreign-born medical school graduates to practice in counties in my district. That’s 50 more doctors, who specialize in areas including anesthesiology, cardiology, infectious disease, internal medicine, neurology, pediatrics, psychiatry, radiology, transplants, urology, and more,” said Congressman Troy Nehls. “Reclaiming unused waivers from the previous fiscal year is a simple, common-sense approach to address the critical nationwide physician shortages, without increasing the number of visas.”

Specifically, the DOCTORS Act will require state agencies to report to the Secretary of State how many unused waivers they retained at the end of each fiscal year. The Secretary will calculate the total unused waivers and disburse those equally back to the states that used their maximum 30 slots in the previous fiscal year, divisible by three.