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Kentucky J-1 Visa Waiver Programs

The J-1 Visa Waiver programs in the Health Care Access Branch assists the public and private health sectors in qualifying to employ an international medical graduate who may obtain a waiver of his or her two-year home residency requirement by serving in a health professional shortage area or a medically underserved area/population for a period of three years.

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

The State 30 Program
This program is managed by the Health Care Access Branch. The program may recommend waivers for up to 30 international medical graduates per federal fiscal year (Oct. 1 - Sept. 30) to the U.S. State Department.

Appalachian Regional Commission J-1 Visa Waiver Program
This program is managed by the Health Care Access Branch and 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
This program is a direct federal-run program by the Department for Health and Human Services. While not managed by the Health Care Access Branch, the J-1 Visa waiver manager can provides technical assistance and coordinate the process for applying to this sister program.

The Delta Regional Authority
This program is a direct federal-run program serving eight states, including 21 Western Kentucky counties. It is one of the few federal government agencies allowed to recommend Visa waivers to the U.S. State Department. While not managed by the Health Care Access Branch, the J-1 Visa waiver manager provides technical assistance and referrals to this sister program.

J-1 Federal Application

All J-1 Visa waiver applications from the four available programs (see above) must first be assigned a case number by the U.S. Department of State. To obtain a State Department case number, you must 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 an international medical graduate who may obtain a waiver of his or her two-year home residency requirement and practice in an underserved area. 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:

State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Guidelines

J-1 Visa Waiver Physician Information Sheet

J-1 Visa Waiver Sponsor Information Sheet

J-1 Visa Waiver Program Six (6) Month Reporting Form

KY J-1 Visa Waiver Program Placement Verification Form

Letter of good standing

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 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 two-year foreign residency requirement related to two types of waivers:

  1. Research performed in an area of priority or significant interest to the agency, and
  2. Primary 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 Health Care Access Branch can provide assistance in compiling, reviewing and submitting this application to ensure the material is complete. The Health Care Access Branch may also 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 active in 21 Kentucky counties that include Ballard, Caldwell, Calloway, Carlisle, Christian, Crittenden, Fulton, Graves, Henderson, Hickman, Hopkins, Livingston, Lyon, Marshall, McCracken, McLean, Muhlenberg, Todd, Trigg, Union and Webster. To be eligible for the J-1 Visa Waiver Program, the county must meet health professional shortage area designation requirements.

For more information, review the Delta Regional Authority.

J-1 Transfers in Kentucky

It is expected that recipients of State 30 J-1 Visa waivers will 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 unusual and rare circumstances, it may be necessary for a physician to change employers or practice locations. In these instances, please contact Gary Williams at 502-564-8966 for assistance and refer to the J-1 Transfer Guidelines

Physicians whose J-1 visa waiver was sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission and 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.

University Medical School Physician Placement Programs in Kentucky

Kentucky’s medical schools offer assistance to communities, hospitals and health care organizations in recruiting physicians. All Appalachian Regional Commission and Kentucky State 30 J-1 Visa waiver applications must provide evidence of having attempted to recruit a physician through national, regional and local sources including having contacted representatives of all medical schools in Kentucky. Both of Kentucky's state-funded medical schools operate medical placement programs.

Both physicians seeking employment opportunities in Kentucky and potential employers may obtain additional information from the University of Kentucky Medical Professionals Placement Services and University of Louisville Placement Service.


Contact Information

Sandra dela Rosa, Health Program Coordinator
275 E. Main
Frankfort, KY 40621
Phone: 502-564-0655 X 4005



Last Updated 4/17/2018