In order to participate in any professional engagement (externship, research, residency, etc.) an IMG or FMG should enquire about his or her eligibility for a specific visa that would permit them to receive clinical training for the purpose of becoming a licensed physician and providing medical services in U.S.
Our team includes top immigration professionals in the industry with over four decades of experience. Thanks to their expertise, we have provided visa assistance to many foreign medical graduates (FMGs). The types of visa they were trying to obtain include H1-B, TN, Green Card, EB-1, J-1 and many other specialized visas after carefully assessing each candidate’s unique situation. We provided visa assistance to many international and foreign medical graduates from countries such as India, Thailand, China, Bulgaria, Russia, Germany, Egypt, Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico, Iran, Iraq, Canada and many more.
With a growing pool of U.S. and foreign medical school students and graduates applying each year to ACGME Residency programs in the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), the inability to obtain a visa greatly hinders the foreign national’s ability to gain valuable experience in the United States. Our experts will advise each student on what type of visa best fits his/her situation, as well as outline all the requirements international medical students or graduates have to meet in order to successfully apply and receive visas. Please note, that you will not need to have a special visa for your short-term clinical externship or observerships.
J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa and ECFMG Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program
A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued to research scholars, professors and exchange visitors participating in medical training programs within the U.S.
J-1 visa is the most common visa type used by foreign and international medical graduates to participate in U.S. GME programs. The Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) sponsors foreign national physicians for the J-1 visa. Find more information here: ECFMG Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program.
J-1 application requirements
- High proficiency in the English language
- USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK
- Standard ECFMG Certificate
- Official letter of acceptance from a GME program affiliated with a medical school
- Statement of need from the Ministry of Health of the country of residence (LPR)
Returning to the Home Country for two years
Foreign and international medical graduates must return to their home country for two consecutive years after completion of their training. This period of time is reserved for the purpose of transferring the knowledge they gained in the U.S.
If a foreign and international medical graduate is offered an opportunity that requires a different type of US visa, an individual must obtain a waiver of this 2-year obligation. After such waver is granted, the candidate’s visa status could be adjusted to H-1B (temporary worker); TN or US permanent resident. Waiver of the two-year requirement is possible only:
1. If the applicant can prove that he/she may suffer from persecution upon return to his/her home country of legal permanent residence;
2. If fulfillment of the two-year obligation could cause proven hardship to the applicant's family (spouse and/or children) whose status is either U.S. citizenship or permanent residency;
3. If the applicant is sponsored by a certain governmental agency interested in the applicants continued employment in the U.S.
Temporary Worker H-1B
The H-1B visa can be obtained by the employer for their temporary workers in specialty occupations with professional-level degrees for up to six years. H-1B visa does not require a two-year home residence, as does the J-1. H-1B visa provides employment authorization for a specific employer only. The GME program, not prospective trainees (IMGs), must file an H-1B petition on their behalf. To be eligible for an H-1B, the following is required:
- A full, unrestricted state medical license, the appropriate authorization for the position
- An MD or full unrestricted foreign medical license
- English language proficiency confirmed by passing the ECFMG English language examination
- Passage of the USMLE Steps 1, 2 and 3
- Prearranged job, either temporary or permanent, in a professional field
Once H-1B is issued, it will be valid for a period of three years, with the possibility of extension for a second three-year period. After the 6-year total expires, an FMG is required to return to his/her home country for one year with an opportunity to re-enter the U.S. in an H or L visa category.
Dependent H-4 visa
An H-4 visa can be issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to the immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the H-1B visa holders. H-4 Visa is the dependent Visa for H1-B. H-4 Visa holders can work in the U.S., but it is a non-immigrant visa which doesn’t provide a work permit unless the H1-B spouse’s Green Card process has already started.
For information about your Visa needs related to professional engagement, please contact us by completing this form: