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Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program (EVSP)

Selected Federal Regulations for J-1 Physicians

The following summarizes key regulations for J-1 physicians participating in clinical training programs in the United States:

  • The two-year home country physical presence (foreign residence) requirement [§212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended] requires that J-1 physicians and accompanying J-2 dependents reside in the home country for an aggregate of at least two years before being eligible for certain changes or adjustment in visa status in the United States.
  • J-1 physicians and dependents must maintain health, accident, medical evacuation, and repatriation of remains insurance during their stay in the United States. (See the EVSP Reference Guide.) ECFMG provides medical evacuation and repatriation of remains insurance. It is the responsibility of each J-1 physician to obtain the other insurances for him/herself and accompanying J-2 dependents. In many cases, health and accident insurance is provided as a benefit of the training program at the teaching hospital.
  • ECFMG J-1 visa sponsorship authorizes a specific training activity, location, and associated financial compensation. Federal regulations do not permit any additional activity or compensation outside of the defined parameters of the approved program. Unauthorized employment is prohibited.
  • A J-1 physician may once, within the first two years of J-1 sponsorship, change his/her designated medical specialty. ECFMG is authorized to issue a change in program specialty before commencement of the third year of sponsorship. Once an Exchange Visitor physician enters the third year of sponsorship, a change in specialty is no longer permitted.
  • The maximum duration for ECFMG sponsorship for clinical training is generally limited to seven years. Furthermore, duration of participation is limited to the time “typically required to complete a program,” as defined by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and/or member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).
  • J-1 physicians are expected to advance through progressive levels of training. Regulations limit ECFMG sponsorship for repeat/remedial training to a maximum of 12 months.
  • J-1 physicians must depart the United States within 30 days of completion of full-time participation in a training program, as defined by the dates on Form DS-2019. While there is a “30-day grace period” during which J-1 physicians and J-2 dependents can remain in the United States, there is no employment or training authorization during this time. Remaining in the United States beyond the grace period can have serious repercussions for future immigration or visa applications. The 30-day grace period may not apply in instances of early departure due to resignation or termination. Consult with ECFMG if early departure from a training program is being considered.

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Last updated December 27, 2011.
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