Every year, thousands of medical students and professionals contribute to U.S. health care system under J-1 and H-1B visa programs


Washington (March 28, 2020) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) led the entire Massachusetts congressional delegation in calling on the Trump administration to ensure that hospitals, health centers, and other medical providers in the state have access to the thousands of foreign doctors, scientists, and medical workers who typically make up a significant portion of the healthcare provider workforce in Massachusetts. In a letter sent today, the lawmakers urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to continue to process and prioritize the visas of medical providers who can assist in the fight against coronavirus.


“The city of Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and our country cannot afford to delay visa processing for health care providers,” write the delegation in their letter. “As U.S. medical centers work tirelessly to handle the surge in health care needs during this crisis, it is imperative that we do everything we can to fully staff these facilities.”


A significant proportion of the workforce in U.S. academic medical centers are foreign doctors who require a visa to work, including, for example, 25 percent of medical residents and fellows at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. The Massachusetts lawmakers argue that though the residents and fellows that comprise the medical workforce are referred to as trainees, they are the backbone of bedside patient care and critical to the ability to provide high quality medical care.


A copy of the letter can be found HERE.


The delegation specifically asks for the following steps:

1)     Immediately exempt from the J-1 and H-1B visa suspension the processing of applications from those with medical or scientific expertise who can be deployed in the fight against coronavirus;

2)     Continue and expand the H-1B premium processing option for exempted applications;

3)     Temporarily extend visas and other protected status for physicians and medical residents; and

4)     Expedite approvals of extensions and changes of status for physicians and medical residents practicing or otherwise lawfully present in the United States.