HHS Exchange Visitor Program

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for managing the U.S. Exchange Visitor Program as it relates to health research and clinical care. This program accepts applications to request waiver of the 2-year foreign residency requirement related to two types of waivers:

  • Research performed in an area of priority or significant interest to the agency, and
  • Health care services needed in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) in the United States. Physicians with J-1 visas must agree to deliver health care services for three years in a mental health or primary care HPSA.

The HHS Exchange Visitor Waiver Review Board is made up of scientific experts. These experts will evaluate the facts presented in the application and determine if the research program or health services proposed have met the requirements of quality and essential participation.

HHS does not grant waivers. HHS submits its recommendation to approve a waiver request to the Department of State (DoS). DoS submits its approval recommendation to the U.S. Citizens and Immigration Service (USCIS). USCIS is the agency authorized to grant a waiver, officially. (Please note: a waiver application is not an application for U.S. citizenship.)


The provider must be credentialed as one of the following disciplines: family medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, obstetrics & gynecology or general psychiatry who have completed their primary care or psychiatric residency training programs no more than 12 months before the date of commencement of employment under the contract. In addition, the facility or locality must have a designated score of at least seven. For The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) specific requirements, please visit: https://www.hhs.gov/about/agencies/oga/about-oga/what-we-do/visitor-exchange-program/supplementary-b-clinical-care.html.

In order to receive a State health department acknowledgment letter, an attorney or law firm must provide the following:
• Copy of the entire application packet that they intend to send to the HHS office.
• A letterhead of your request explaining why you believe that this particular physician will serve the needs of the underserved population, as well as how the community and facility will benefit from the physician being placed in that locality.