Dec 9 2006
Senate Approves Extension of Physicians for Underserved Areas Act
The Senate today passed the Physicians for Underserved Areas Act by a voice vote, three days after the bill was passed, also by a voice vote, by Congress. This bill, which must now be signed into law by the President for it to become active, would extend for two years the visa waiver program that allows foreign doctors who work in underserved areas to remain in the U.S. after completing their medical training.
Traditionally, individuals who come to the U.S. for graduate or medical education under the J-1 Visa category are required to leave the U.S. for two years before being allowed to apply to return. However, a law passed in 1994 allowed a waiver of this requirement for foreign doctors who agreed to spend at least three years working with patients in medically underserved areas (e.g.: the Appalachian mountain region). This program’s authorization expired on June 1, 2006. Once signed into law by the President, this bill will be reinstated for a period of two years.