In November 2020, PIDS along with HIVMA, IDSA and SHEA, called on the Department of Homeland Security to exempt physicians working in the United States on J-1 visas from the agency’s proposed rule “Establishing a Fixed Time Period of Admission and an Extension of Stay Procedure for Nonimmigrant Academic Students, Exchange Visitors and Representatives of Foreign Information Media.” PIDS also signed onto a letter with the Council of Pediatric Subspecialties (CoPS) opposing this rule change. In addition to expressing deep concerns about the limits the change would impose, PIDS and the leaders of these organizations expressed that the move would severely affect the number of J-1 physicians’ availability to deliver infectious diseases care for patients and further jeopardize the nation’s ability to effectively respond the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
However, the proposed rule change was not finalized before President Biden was inaugurated last week. Given this, recent discussions with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials involved with the transition, and President Biden’s Executive Orders related to immigration, PIDS does not expect this Administration to act on the rule change. This development is extremely significant for both current and prospective J-1 physicians as well as U.S. teaching hospitals. PIDS liaison to the Council of Pediatric Subspecialties, Angela Myers MD, MPH, expressed her excitement with this development, “This is great news, and I am happy that the ICE proposed change in the duration of status was not finalized. This allows programs, program directors, and most importantly trainees to breathe a sigh of relief that they will not need to reapply for their visa each year while they are in training.”