NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Recruitment of Doctors From Overseas Conflicts With Homeland Security

December 30, 2002

Homeland security demands are complicating efforts to encourage immigrant doctors to serve in rural American communities that find it difficult to attract medical professionals.

  • The Department of Agriculture earlier this year abolished a program which sponsored more than 3,000 foreign doctors and waived so-called return-home requirements, which would have forced them to return to their native countries for at least two years after they completed their medical training.
  • The waiver allowed the doctors to stay in the U.S. if they worked in rural communities for three to five years -- but that waiver might be reinstated as jurisdiction is moved from Agriculture to the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Changes in a second, broader program being run by the Immigration and Naturalization Service added several years to the time immigrant doctors were obliged to work in an underserved area before they were allowed to apply for permanent residency.

These and other tightened procedures have left foreign-born doctors with the feeling their professional lives are in limbo, and forced them to take their cases to court. The new regulations are also having an impact on health care in physician-short communities.

Source: Marjorie Valbrun, "Homeland-Security Steps Strain Rural Health Care," Wall Street Journal, December 30, 2002.


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