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 National Interest Waiver Policy

J-1 Visa Waiver Program

South Carolina will sponsor up to 30 waivers for foreign physicians per federal fiscal year. All physician specialties are eligible for consideration. All employers must be pre-approved by the Primary Care Office (PCO) and assigned a J-1 wavier slot before a waiver application will be accepted for processing.

Applicant facilities may request a slot assignment at any time. Applicant facility eligibility requirements are as described here:

  • Employers can be, but are not limited to, publicly funded health care facilities or private entities.
  • The health care facility must be located in a federally designated shortage area or must serve an underserved population.
  • A facility must currently accept Medicare and Medicaid assignment and have an approved arrangement for treating indigent, uninsured patients.
  • A facility must have been providing care for a minimum of 12 months in the state of South Carolina prior to submitting its request.

Upon receipt of a slot assignment, the facility should assemble the J-1 Wavier application according to the South Carolina Standardized J-1 Visa Waiver Application for Conrad 30 Waivers (pdf) . If additional information is required by the State of South Carolina, that information will be specified by the Office of Primary Care and communicated to the practice site representative at the time of the slot assignment.

Application Review Process

  • Physicians need to submit the Department of State data sheet and processing fee to the U.S. Department of State (DOS) in order to establish a case number prior to submission of applications to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
  • DHEC will complete an initial review of the application within 10 working days of receipt.
  • All incomplete applications will be returned to sender.
  • Upon approval, DHEC will forward the waiver application to the DOS. The DOS must approve the application before it is sent to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services for final approval.
  • DHEC will send a copy of its support letter to the physician or their legal representative when the application is forwarded to the DOS.
  • Application status can be tracked at the DOS using this link: http://j1visawaiverstatus.state.gov/

Contact Us

For more information, contact Mark Jordan by phone, (803) 898-0766, or email, jordanma@dhec.sc.gov.

National Interest Waiver Policy

The South Carolina Office of Primary Care will issue letters of support for physicians who have received J‐1 Waivers through the South Carolina Conrad 30 Program under the following conditions:

  1. The physician has been an employee in good standing with the employer named in their J‐1 Waiver application for at least six months.
  2. The physician is offered a 2 year extension to their original 3 year contract by the employer named in their J‐1 Waiver application at the site/sites named in that application.
  3. The employer issues a statement that they understand that the physician can leave the organization to accept another practice opportunity without having to show that there are extenuating circumstances once their 3 year J‐1 Waiver obligation has been satisfied.

Parties interested in pursuing National Interest Waiver Letters of Support should submit the following to the Office of Primary Care:

  1. A copy of the 5 year contract.
  2. A letter from the employer indicating a) the date that the physician began work with their organization, b) a statement that the physician is in good standing with the organization, and, c) a statement that the employer understands that upon receiving the National Interest Waiver and completing their 3 year J‐1 Waiver obligation, the physician can leave the organization to accept another practice opportunity without having to show that there are extenuating circumstances.