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J-1 Visa Waiver Program

Federal law requires that foreign physicians seeking to pursue graduate education or training in the United States must obtain a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa.  Upon completion of their studies, the physicians must return to their home country for at least two years before they can return to the U.S.  Physicians who are subject to the two year home country residence requirement may apply for a waiver of that requirement with a recommendation from an interested state health department.

The California J-1 Visa Waiver Program is located in the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS).  DHCS is the single state agency that administers the State’s Medicaid Program (Medi-Cal).  The mission of the Medi-Cal Program is to improve the health status of low income Californians by assuring access to appropriate health care services.  California is allowed 30 J-1 Visa Waiver recommendations during the federal fiscal year (October 1 - September 30).  Recommendations are forwarded to the U.S. Department of State.  The Department of State reviews the application and makes recommendations to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as to whether or not the residency waiver should be granted.  The USCIS makes the final determination and informs the applicant and the California Department of Health Care Services of their decision. 

In California there remains a critical need for primary care physicians.  California's J-1 Visa Waiver Program gives priority to applications from primary care physicians who will work in federally designated underserved areas.  Primary care physicians include:  internist, family practice, pediatrician, psychiatrist, and OB/GYN.

2016-2017 J-1 Visa Waiver Program Application Status


​October 1, 2016 - September 30, 2017
​Applications Received: 21

  Last Updated October 27, 2016 


For more information about the J-1 Waiver Program, click on the links below: 



For further information contact the J-1 Visa Waiver Coordinator via email at
Last modified on: 10/27/2016 10:08 AM