J-1 Visa Waiver through HHS

This program allows physicians to apply for a waiver of the J-1 Visa two-year home residence requirement. Physicians must practice primary care clinical medicine, full-time, in a designated health professional shortage area for a three- year period. For more details, please visit the HHS Exchange Visitor Program website


Program Guidelines

  1. The HHS Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Physicians applying for a waiver through the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must submit a request to the CT DPH to obtain the required letter of support.
  2. Applicants may apply year-round.
  3. The physician must practice primary care medicine, full-time (no less than forty (40) hours per week) for the required three (3) year obligation period.
  4. The physician must practice primary care medicine in a designated primary care or mental health geographic or population Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). HPSAs can be searched through the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) website

Procedure to request a CT DPH Letter of Support to include in an HHS application for a J-1 Visa Waiver

Submit the documents listed below electronically to: DPH-PCO@CT.Gov with the subject line: HHS Support Letter Request
Or, the documents listed below can be mailed to the Primary Care Office at the following address:  

Primary Care Office ATTN: NIW
CT Department of Public Health
410 Capitol Ave. MS # MAT 108
Hartford, CT 06134


  1. Form: Request for a DPH Letter of Support (HHS)
  2. Copy of the Employment Contract, which includes: 
    a. Signatures of both the J-1 Visa physician and employer
    b. At least three (3) year term of employment, including the expected start and end dates
    c. The job title and/or specialty the J-1 physician provides care under
    d. The names and physical addresses of all the full-time practice facilities/sites
    e. A minimum of forty (40) hours per week of direct patient care
  3. Evidence that each practice facility is located in a designated shortage area (copy of the HRSA Query results)
  4. A copy of the physician's valid CT Physician/Surgeon License. Note that a Resident Physician's Permit does not meet this requirement. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions Answers
How long will it take to be issued a letter of support from the DPH? There are several factors that can impact the time it takes for the DPH to issue a letter of support. When all materials are submitted and correct, a letter can be drafted and returned to the physician or legal counsel in 5 - 10 business days.

Most often, we see delays in issuing a support letter due to a physician having a pending physician's license. When awaiting issuance of a physician's license, be sure to check for missing documents, or request documents be submitted from the original sources, through the physician's eLicense Profile

What practices qualify as "Primary Care"? Primary care is interpreted to include allopathic and osteopathic physicians who are trained in, and will practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, family practice, obstetrics-gynecology, geriatrics, and psychiatry.
Are my 3 years of clinical care required to be complete before I request a CT DPH letter of support to include in my HHS Waiver Request?

No, the required number of years employed in clinical care do not have to be completed at the time you request a support letter. You can request a CDPH support letter with:

  • Employment contract for future work to fulfill the required number of years
  • Employment contract for current work; some of the years are complete, and some are in the future
What am I supposed to do with the HPSA search links? Please search the address of each facility where you are contracted to provide full-time care. Please take screen-shots of the results, showing the Primary Care HPSA information. The facility should be within a Primary Care HPSA with the Status: "Designated" and the ID number should be displayed. 
The HPSA search shows a facility is not in a Primacy Care HPSA with a "Designated" status. Can DPH still list this facility on my support letter?
There are several possible scenarios, as follows:
  1. If the facility is not within a Primary Care HPSA at all (Status: "Not Designated"), the DPH will not reference the facility in the support letter. 
  2. If the facility is within a Primary Care HPSA with the status: "Withdrawn", the DPH will not reference the facility in the support letter. 
  3. If the facility is within a Primary Care HPSA with the status: "Proposed for Withdrawal" the DPH will reference the facility in the support letter. However, the letter will state that while not withdrawn at the time of the letter drafting, the HPSA is proposed for withdrawal, as of the date shown in the search results.
What is the difference between my employer and the name of the facility I practice care in? "Employer" refers to the medical group, organization, corporation, or other large entity that owns and operates the multiple facilities/work sites.
Other Useful Links
CT Health Professional Shortage Areas
DPH Licensure
J-1 Waiver Support Letter Request Form 
US Department of Health and Human Services
Connecticut Conrad 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program
Physician National Interest Waiver


For more information:
For CT licensing information: (860) 509-8374 or (860) 509-7603
For questions on J-1 Waiver programs: (860) 509-8251