Physicians from designated countries on the J-1 visa are required to return to their home country to fulfill a two year home residency requirement. Until this requirement is met, the physicians may not change to H-1B visa status or apply to become a legal permanent resident. One waiver for the two year home residency requirement is the “State 30” program. This program provides foreign doctors on the J-1 visa the option of working for three years in an underserved area in lieu of returning home for the two year period. The hospitals are stationed in remote rural areas of the U.S. where there is a shortage of doctors. Once the physician has successfully completed the program, the physician may apply for legal permanent residence.
To qualify, the foreign physician must work for three years in federally-designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA), Medically Underserved Areas/Population (MUA/Ps), or serve population from these underserved areas. Each state has up to thirty spots to fill. The selection process is very competitive as the hospitals seek the best doctors. Physicians that have prevailed through the program and have obtained permanent documentation, often choose to stay in these remote areas because of the extreme need.
For more information on the State 30 program in New York State please see this link.
For more information on specific physician experiences please see this link for a BBC article on the subject.