AMA urges US state department to open visa processing for international physicians to expand physician workforce amid COVID-19

AMA urges US state department to open visa processing for international physicians to expand physician workforce amid COVID-19

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | March 25, 2020
CHICAGO — The American Medical Association (AMA) today urged the Administration to take critical steps to expand the physician workforce to meet the increasing demands on the American health system during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting-Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, the AMA called for opening visa processing at embassies and consulates worldwide for physicians seeking to join U.S. residency programs starting in July, and urged public confirmation that J-1 physicians are permitted to be redeployed to new rotations.

"Residents and fellow physicians are an important part of the health care teams serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis," wrote AMA CEO James L. Madara, M.D. "We want to ensure that non-U.S. citizen international medical graduates are not negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and can either continue, or begin, to serve a vital role in caring for patients."


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In its letter, the AMA strongly urges the following:

Work with the DHS to institute a process by which physicians already in the U.S. in valid visa status would receive expedited processing when seeking a change of status through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to either begin a U.S. residency or assume a position in an underserved area of the U.S;
Extend the 30-day grace period beyond the end of the nationally declared emergency and allow extended training activities under supervision during this grace period consistent with pandemic response, as deemed appropriate by the program director; and
Issue a public statement confirming that J-1 physicians are permitted to be redeployed to new rotations within the host training institution as needed to respond to the COVID-19 epidemic.


Dear Secretary Pompeo and Acting Secretary Wolf:

On behalf of the physician and medical student members of the American Medical Association (AMA), I am writing to strongly urge the U.S. Department of State (DoS) to work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to ensure that non-U.S. citizen international medical graduates (IMG) are not negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and can either continue, or begin, to serve a vital role in caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents and fellow physicians are an important part of the health care teams serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. The AMA urges the DoS to open visa processing at embassies and consulates worldwide for physicians seeking to enter the U.S. to join residency programs on July 1, 2020. The AMA believes that any delay in the commencement of training programs will significantly compromise serving our nation's most vulnerable patients at hundreds of academic medical centers and safety-net facilities across the U.S.

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