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To obtain a J waiver, an “interested government agency” (IGA) must agree to sponsor the IMG to work in a federally designated health professional shortage area or a medically underserved area. There are thousands of these areas throughout the United States.

You can determine if your medical group is in one of these areas by visiting http://bhpr.hrsa.gov:80/shortage/hpsacrit.htm. Your affiliated hospital also may have this information. In addition to IGA waivers, the government grants a limited number of waivers to physicians whose spouses and children, if they are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, would suffer “exceptional hardship” if they had to return to the physician’s home country.