AMA urges U.S. State Department to open visa processing for international physicians to expand physician workforce amid COVID-19

March 26, 2020

The American Medical Association (AMA) has urged the Administration in writing 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.”

In its letter, the AMA urged:

·       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.

AMA has the statement.

More COVID-19 coverage HERE.