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Comprehensive Reform Bill Could Improve Physician Immigration

April 19, 2013—Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) April 16 introduced the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744), which includes a number of provisions that will impact physician immigration.  In addition to Sen. Schumer, the bill is co-sponsored by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) ― known collectively as the “Gang of 8.” 

The measure includes most of the Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Act (S. 616), introduced March 19 by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) [see Washington Highlights, March 22]. AAMC, American Medical Association (AMA), and American Hospital Association (AHA) are listed among the supporters of S. 616.

Of particular importance to teaching hospitals and residents, S. 744 would:

  • Create three new Conrad 30 slots per state dedicated for academic medical centers;
  • Provide a mechanism to increase Conrad 30 waivers each time 90 percent of waivers are filled nationwide;I
  • Institute physician employment protection provisions for physicians in the Conrad 30 program;
  • Clarify physician eligibility for national interest waiver green cards;
  • Better align visa terms with residency training and physician practice; 
  • Exempt eligible medical residents and physicians from annual worldwide immigration caps; and
  • Help address “brain drain” by allowing immigrating physicians to practice in designated developing countries without affecting their U.S. continuous residency requirements.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin a series of hearings on immigration overhaul legislation April 19.

A similar bipartisan group of House members has been working on comprehensive immigration reform, but has yet to release any proposals publicly. The House group consists of Representatives Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), John Carter (R-Texas), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Sam Johnson (R-Texas), and John Yarmuth (D-Ky.).


Matthew Shick, JD
Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs
Telephone: 202-862-6116


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Washington Highlights, a weekly electronic newsletter, features brief updates on the latest legislative and regulatory activities affecting medical schools and teaching hospitals.

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Jason Kleinman
Sr. Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations
Telephone: 202-903-0806