The South Dakota Department of Health is committed to assuring that all South Dakotans have access to quality, affordable health care. The state has established the J-1 Visa Waiver Program to help rural communities recruit foreign or international medical graduate physicians. The Office of Rural Health supports and facilitates waiver requests.

Applications for a waiver request must be submitted by the employing facility on behalf of a J-1 physician seeking waiver, not by the J-1 physician or the physician's representative. The employing facility must be located in or serving residents of a shortage area as determined by the Department of Health and designated by the federal government. The facility must have made an employment offer to a J-1 physician and submitted a J-1 visa waiver request in the form of an application to the Department of Health.

The J-1 Physician is a physician in possession of a temporary Exchange Visitor (J-1) Visa to pursue a graduate medical education in the United States and seeking waiver of their J-1 visa home country residency requirement through the practice of medicine full-time within a shortage area. A shortage area is a geographic area that is designated by the federal government as a Medically Underserved Area or Health Professional Shortage Area. Such designation must be in effect at the time of the application.

For more information contact the Office of Rural Health at 1-800-738-2301 (in South Dakota only) or by email.