March 22, 2013—Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) March 19 introduced the Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Act (S. 616). The bill seeks to improve the pathway for physician immigration to the U.S. with changes to the Conrad State 30 J-1 visa waiver program, H-1b visas, and national interest waiver green cards requirements. AAMC, American Medical Association (AMA), and American Hospital Association (AHA) are listed among the supporters of the measure.
S. 616 substantially builds on a legislation sponsored by Senator Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) in the 112th Congress that would have permanently reauthorized his namesake waiver program [see Washington Highlights, Feb. 3, 2012]. Among other changes, the bill would:
- provide a mechanism to increase Conrad 30 waivers each time 90 percent of waivers are filled nationwide;
- create three new Conrad 30 slots per state dedicated for academic medical centers;
- institute physician employment protection provisions for physicians in the Conrad 30 program;
- clarify physician eligibility for national interest waiver green cards; and
- better align visa terms with residency training and physician practice.
It is reported that the “Gang of 8” senators working on comprehensive immigration reform will look to include S.616 as part of a broader package.
Senior Legislative Analyst, Government Relations
Telephone: (202) 862-6116