The Wall Street Journal reported Friday many foreign doctors no longer get a J-1 visa, which gave them eligibility for a green card if they spent three years practicing in a medically underserved area. Instead, they obtain an H1-B visa, which doesn't require them to spend time in a rural area, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The newspaper said the number of foreign physicians in the United States on a J-1 visa has fallen to 6,000 in 2005-2006, from nearly 11,000 in 1995-1996.
"It's a life-and-death situation," Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, told the Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper said the situation was a result of a 2000 change in the visa laws that lifted the number of H1-B visas granted.
On top of putting in long hours, working in a rural area doesn't offer doctors the opportunities to practice their specialties or use new technology, the newspaper said.
"It's like serving jail time," Minoo Kavarana, a Mumbai native and heart surgeon working in London, Ky., on a J-1 waiver, said.