At the end of March, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services Ombudsman recommended that USCIS publish new regulations to allow employment authorization for J-2 dependents of J-1 physicians who are receiving a waiver through the Conrad State 30 program. It also suggested that USCIS provide new policy guidance that states that individuals holding a J-2 visa who are derivative beneficiaries to the Conrad State 30 program may change to any non-immigrant status that they may be eligible for.

USCIS recently responded to these recommendations. Unfortunately, USCIS stated that it does not believe that a J-2 dependent of a J-1 physician who is receiving a waiver through the Conrad State 30 program can change to an employment authorized classification until the J-1 physician has fulfilled the terms of his waiver through providing medical care for three years in a medically under-served area.

However, USCIS did state that it would consider whether these J-2 dependents should be permitted to work if they switch to H-4 status. The Hammond Law Group is pleased that USCIS is reviewing whether J-2 dependents who are now in H-4 status should receive employment authorization and hopes that USCIS permits these individuals to benefit our society through their professional contributions.