House Approves Bill That Would Extend Visa Waiver Program for Foreign Medical Students Trained in U.S.
The House on Wednesday by voice vote approved legislation (HR 5571) that would extend a program that allows foreign-born medical students in the U.S. to remain in the country and work after graduation, CQ Today reports. The legislation extends the Conrad 30 J Visa Program through June 1, 2013.
Under the waiver program, states can sponsor up to 30 three-year work visa extensions annually that allow foreign medical students trained in the U.S. to work in medically underserved regions. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said 768 foreign physicians received waivers under the program in fiscal year 2007. Without the waiver, foreign students are required to return to their home countries for at least two years before they can apply for a work visa in the U.S.
Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) said the waiver program would help alleviate a physician shortage, as well as expand U.S. residents' access to health care. King said, "The waiver program assists people in rural and inner-city communities in getting good quality and accessible medical care," adding, "I think it's an important piece, a small piece, but an important piece of our health care plan" (Ethridge, CQ Today, 5/22).