Members of Congress urge NBRC to bring in doctors with visa waiver program | News, Sports, Jobs

WASHINGTON – As doctors become harder to find in rural parts of the country, a bipartisan group of congressional representatives is calling on the Northern Border Regional Commission to take action and make it easier to recruit doctors to the region .

In a letter to NBRC this week, five House members representing districts along the Canada-US border in New York, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine demanded that the group develop a plan to bring in qualified doctors and health professionals in the northern regions of their states.

The NBRC is a partnership between the states and the federal government, focusing on the most economically challenged counties in New York, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, which are mostly concentrated along the border region, although some of the counties covered by the commission are hundreds of miles from the border, such as Greene County in New York’s Hudson Valley. The commission invests in economic and infrastructure projects and serves as a liaison between the region and federal government agencies.

The bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, as well as Congressional Progressive Caucus Vice Chair Chellie M. Pingree, D-Maine, demanded that the NBRC use its existing authority to create a J-1 visa. waiver program, which would allow US-trained doctors who are neither residents nor citizens to work in the country for up to three years, provided they work in areas of increased need, such as rural areas within the jurisdiction of the committee.

Current J-1 visas, which are the most common visas used to bring medical professionals to the United States, require the visa holder to complete a training program, such as a residency, in the United States and then obliges the holder to return home. country for at least two years before you can apply for an H-1B professional work visa or permanent resident status.

“These doctors will provide essential medical services to rural areas of our states which are currently suffering from a shortage of medical personnel,” reads the letter.

Other regional authorities and commissions in Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta have similar waiver programs in place. The Delta Doctors program in the Mississippi Delta has placed more than 160 physicians who otherwise would not have been able to work in the United States around its area of ​​responsibility in 2019 alone.

Under this program, which officials say could be used as a model for the NBRC program, medical professionals who obtain the waiver can work for the three-year period and then are waived the requirement of return to their home country for two years, allowing them to immediately apply for permanent resident status.

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