J-1 Visa Waiver Programs


The J-1 Visa Waiver programs help public and private health sectors qualify to employ international medical graduates who may obtain a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement by serving in a health professional shortage area or medically underserved area/population for a period of three years.

In Kentucky, four different J-1 programs are available:

The State 30 Program may recommend to the state department waivers for up to 30 international medical graduates per federal fiscal year (Oct. 1 - Sept. 30).

Appalachian Regional Commission J-1 Visa Waiver Program enables medical providers in the 51 Appalachian counties in Kentucky to further access international medical graduates through the J-1 Visa Waiver program.

HHS Exchange Visitor Program empowers the J-1 Visa waiver manager to provide technical assistance and coordination for program applicants

The Delta Regional Authority recommends Visa waivers to the U.S. state department and empowers the J-1 Visa waiver manager to provide technical assistance and program referrals.

J-1 Federal Application

Each J-1 Visa waiver application must be assigned a case number by the U.S. Department of State. Complete a State Department J-1 Visa waiver review application and mail it with the appropriate fee to the U.S. state department. 

For more information about the J-1 Visa federal application process, visit the U.S. state department website.

Kentucky State 30 J-1 Waiver Program

Many rural and underserved areas qualify to employ international medical graduates to practice in underserved areas of the state. Many areas in Kentucky meet their health care needs using this program. 

To obtain copies of Kentucky's State 30 J-1 Visa waiver guidelines and application materials, call (502) 564-8966 or see the resources below:

Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) J-1 Visa Waiver Program

The Kentucky Health Care Access Branch works with the Appalachian Regional Commission J-1 Visa Waiver Program to enable medical providers in the 51 Appalachian counties in Kentucky to recruit and employ international medical graduates who may obtain a waiver of their two-year home residency requirements and practice in a health shortage area. For further information on the ARC J-1 Visa Waiver Program, visit the  ARC website.

HHS Exchange Visitor Program

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services manages this program as it relates to health research and clinical care. Two types of waivers are administered under this program:

  1. Research performed in an area the agency deems priority or significant and
  2. Primary health care services needed in a Health Professional Shortage Area.

Physicians with J-1 visas must deliver health care services for three years in a mental health or primary care shortage area.

The Health Care Access Branch can assist with compiling, reviewing and submitting applications and also may provide a letter of support for the application. For more information, review the Exchange Visitor Program.  

Delta Regional Authority

The Delta Regional Authority administers numerous programs in 21 Kentucky counties: Ballard, Caldwell, Calloway, Carlisle, Christian, Crittenden, Fulton, Graves, Henderson, Hickman, Hopkins, Livingston, Lyon, Marshall, McCracken, McLean, Muhlenberg, Todd, Trigg, Union and Webster. Eligible counties must meet health professional shortage area designation requirements. For more information, review the Delta Regional Authority​.​


J-1 Transfers in Kentucky

Recipients of state 30 J-1 Visa waivers are expected to complete their minimum three-year obligation to provide medical care in the health profession shortage area or medically underserved area for which they were initially approved.

However, in some circumstances, it may be necessary for a physician to change employers or practice locations. In these instances, please contact Shellie Wingate at (502) 564-8966, extension 4003 for assistance and refer to the J-1 Transfer Guidelines

Physicians with J-1 visa waivers from the Appalachian Regional Commission who desire to transfer to a different location or employer should contact the Health Care Access Branch J-1 Program manager for information and ARC guidelines regarding transfer of J-1 physicians.

National Interest Waivers

A physician who has provided services to Kentucky through the J-1 program may seek a green card to remain in the United States to continue to serve in a Kentucky health professional shortage area. In these circumstances, a national interest waiver may be required. To obtain a national interest waiver, the physician will require a letter from the Kentucky Department for Public Health as the agency having jurisdiction. To obtain a letter in support of obtaining a national interest waiver, see the National Interest Waiver Guidelines.   

Additional Information