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US Senators want premium processing for doc visas to stay; Indians to be affected

US Senators want premium processing for doc visas to stay; Indians to be affected
Three influential American Senators on Saturday called for lifting suspension of premium processing of work visas of foreign doctors, including from India, who commit to work in rural areas of the country.

The little known Conrad 30 J-11 visa waiver programme attracts a large number of Indian doctors to the US every year. The recently announced suspension of premium processing for H-1B visa petitions by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would exacerbate physician shortages, particularly in rural areas that depend on doctors who participate in the Conrad 30 J-1 visa waiver programme; the Senators said.

In a letter to USCIS the Senators – Amy Klobuchar, Susan Collins and Heidi Heitkamp said the suspension of premium processing will delay when these doctors can begin to practice medicine and harm patients that rely on them.

USCIS's recently announced suspension of premium processing for H1-B visa petitions beginning April 3 would exacerbate physician shortages, particularly in rural areas that depend on doctors who participate in the Conrad 30 J-1 visa waiver programme, they said. The suspension of premium processing will delay when these doctors can begin to serve patients in underserved areas across the country and harm patients and communities that rely on local health care facilities utilising Conrad 30 doctors to fill critical needs.

"Currently, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration, there are more than 6,600 designated Primary Medical Health Professional Shortage Areas and over half of these are in rural areas. Conrad 30 helps address this daunting shortage of doctors and has brought more than 15,000 physicians to underserved communities over the last fifteen years," the Senators wrote.

"We understand USCIS is facing a backlog, but USCIS has addressed this problem in the past without suspending premium processing for Conrad 30 doctors. We have every faith that USCIS can address its administrative needs without sacrificing support to this successful, time-tested programme," they said in the letter.

In 2015, Klobuchar, Collins, and Heitkamp introduced bipartisan legislation to make the Conrad 30 programme permanent.
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