Foreign national physicians who seek entry into U.S. programs of graduate medical education or training must obtain an appropriate visa that permits clinical training activities. One visa commonly used by foreign national physicians is the J-1, a temporary nonimmigrant visa reserved for participants in the Exchange Visitor Program. As a public diplomacy initiative of the U.S. Department of State, the Exchange Visitor Program was established to enhance international exchange and mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other nations.
ECFMG is authorized by the U.S. Department of State to sponsor J-1 Exchange Visitor physicians enrolled in accredited programs of graduate medical education or training or advanced research programs (involving primarily observation, consultation, teaching or research). Although many universities and research institutions in the United States are authorized to sponsor Exchange Visitors in the categories of student or research scholar, ECFMG is the sole sponsor of J-1 physicians in clinical training programs.
ECFMG administers its sponsorship program in accordance with federal regulation (22 CFR § 62) and is responsible to ensure that all Exchange Visitors and host institutions meet the federal requirements for participation. As part of its program, ECFMG also provides instruction and guidance to teaching hospitals, medical specialty organizations, universities, and foreign national physicians on the credential and immigration requirements for J-1 visa sponsorship.
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