A complete guide for IMGs to get J-1 Visa Sponsorship

April 4, 2017
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J-1 Visa for International medical graduate.

Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is the visa sponsor for all J-1 exchange visitor physicians in clinical training programs. The J-1 visa is the most preferred for IMGs.

Eligibility of getting J-1 Visa

Following are requirements for international medical graduate seeking J-1 sponsorship;

  • Hold a valid Standard ECFMG Certificate
  • Hold official acceptance letter in training program
  • A Statement of Need from the Ministry of Health of the country

Sponsorship Process of getting J-1 Visa:

ECFMG facilitates J-1 visa sponsorship through the coordinated efforts of training institutions and IMG. Following are the step by step process to get sponsorship:

  • ECFMG verifies that the foreign national physicians meet J-1 eligibility requirements.
  • The applied institution is oversees all the documentation for providing the J-1 physician with the approved clinical training.
  • Each institution arranges a Training Program Liaison (TPL) who is representative to regulate with ECFMG. This communication ensures that all the regulatory legality required for administration are met by J-1 physicians. All the required documentation and procedure of J-1 sponsorship will be handled through the TPL.
  • Immediately after obtaining a training contract, the IMG starts the sponsorship process by contacting the TPL at the host institution.

J-1 Visa Duration:

The duration of visa approval for participation of J-1 physicians in clinical training is the duration to complete the program. This generally refers to the minimum number of training years required by an American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) member board for specialty or subspecialty certification and the accredited length of training as defined by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The J1 visa extension is limited to seven years, provided that the J-1 physician is accepted in program of training or other accredited course.

J-1 Visa Form for USMLE program:

Associated training/employment authorization is specific to the approved activities stated on Form DS-2019. A Form DS-2019 obtained for a particular program may be used only for that program and is not transferable to another institution or program. The law bars working, training, and financial compensation for activities that are outside of the approved Exchange Visitor Program offered by the particular institution.

J-1 Exchange Physical Presence Requirement:

In accordance with federal law, all J-1 Exchange Visitors who are sponsored by ECFMG for the purpose of clinical training are obligated to return to their country of legal permanent residence for total of at least two years.

J-1 Waivers

Many J-1s have a clause of two-year foreign residence requirement after the completion of clinical training.  J-1 visa holder must return to their country for at least 2 years before being allowed to re-enter the United States in another visa category. Also, if the international medical graduate wants to stays in US, they have to apply for J1 waiver jobs.


About the Author

Mayur has completed his USMLE and is working as a radiologist in reputed private hospital in India. He has been accepted in a clinical fellowship program in radiology department in the one of the best cancer center in USA.

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