New Visa program approved for doctors in North Country

Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 8:16 AM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - A new program hopes to attract doctors from overseas to high-need areas across New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

The Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, like many medical facilities across the country, is in desperate need of more doctors. “Absolutely, we have a shortage,” said CVPH’s Lisa VanNatten. “It’s been in existence for many, many years and is only getting worse as time marches on.”

That’s especially true in rural areas. That’s why the Plattsburgh hospital often looks out of the country for new staff. The New York “State 30″ program offers waivers to the home residence requirement for doctors with a J-1 Visa if they agree to work in high-need areas. The downfall, VanNatten says, is it only offers 30 spots and covers the entire state. “Compete for one waiver per year -- it’s a very competitive process,” she said.

But more help might be on the way. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-New York, says that rural hospitals will see some relief with a newly passed program through the Northern Border Regional Commission, a federal and state partnership for the most economic and community distressed parts of Maine, Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire. “It’s going to be a huge recruitment tool for us and is going to be helpful,” VanNatten said.

She says their immigration lawyer is still getting them the specifics but they believe they will have access to an unlimited number of J-1 waivers and can start recruiting under the program now. “It will be a very important tool for us and it will help us because we can consider more,” VanNatten said.

She says the waiver lasts three years and can either be renewed or the individual can apply for a coveted green card. “And you are retaining them, you know. It wouldn’t behoove them to leave in a year or two,” she said.