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Resources for Hospitalists on COVID-19.

The Society of Hospital Medicine Announces Opposition to Proposed Changes to J-1 Visa Structure

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 26, 2020

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Representing the fastest growing specialty in modern healthcare, the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) is the leading medical society for hospitalists and their patients.

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Comment Letter Expressing Concerns About Physician and Trainee Shortages Sent to Department of Homeland Security

The Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM), the leading medical society for hospitalists and their patients, is strongly opposed to a recent proposal by the Department of Homeland Security to eliminate the “duration of status” standard associated with the J-1 visa and replace it with a fixed time period. In support of hospitalists and the care they provide patients in need, SHM sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security outlining its concerns related to the proposed change. SHM’s comment letter in its entirety can be found here.

The proposed rule would require a fixed period of stay for international students, exchange visitors and foreign information media representatives to encourage program compliance, reduce fraud, and enhance national security, according to the DHS press release. Under this proposed change, DHS Docket Number ICEB-2019-0006, those holding a J-1 visa would be allowed entry into the United States for a predetermined period of time, not to exceed four years, or in some instances, a condensed period of two years.

SHM strongly urges a modification to the rule to explicitly exclude foreign national physicians and trainees who participate in the Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program in J-1 Visa status. Physicians-in-training provide a significant amount of care in the U.S. teaching hospitals and are critical elements of care teams.

As explained in the letter, immigrant hospitalists are an essential part of the hospital medicine workforce who provide lifesaving medical care to hospitalized patients around the country. Failure to exclude the foreign national physicians who are participating in the Exchange Visitor Program in J-1 visa status will cause significant workforces challenges for the US healthcare system during an immense time of need, such as:
Delays to the Graduate Medical Education (GME) programs and processes
Deferment of placement of physician trainees
Restricted access to high-quality medical care around the country

“Our experience with COVID-19 has also laid bare many shortfalls in the healthcare system – chiefly, that we need more physicians, not fewer,” the letter reads. “Physician shortages, which will only be exacerbated by this proposal, will be particularly acute in underserved rural and urban areas where many J-1 physicians train and work. We urge you to explicitly exclude foreign national physicians and trainees who participate in the Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program in J-1 visa status.”

For more information about SHM’s public policy efforts and other letters to policymakers, visit SHM’s website here.