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Resources on Executive Order

On March 6, 2017, President Trump signed a new executive order that limits the entry of certain foreign nationals to the United States. This new order replaces Executive Order 13769, which was signed on January 27. We are following developments related to this revised order and continue to evaluate its impacts, including the impact on international medical students and graduates (IMGs) who plan to come to the United States to train as physicians and IMGs already in U.S. programs of graduate medical education. As part of this process, ECFMG is working actively with immigration counsel and other organizations in the U.S. medical education community.

We recognize that IMGs have questions and concerns about the impact of this executive order, and we are in the process of communicating directly with IMGs that we believe may be affected.

We also look forward to providing updates via this web page as they become available. Currently, available updates include:

 


Message to: Designated Institutional Officials, Program Directors, and Training Program Liaisons (TPLs)
From: William W. Pinsky, MD, ECFMG’s President and Chief Executive Officer

June 28, 2017

As you embark on the new academic year, ECFMG is reaching out to provide you with an update on the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this week to lift key components of the injunction against President Trump’s March 2017 Executive Order (EO) 13780. As you know, the EO suspended the issuance of immigrant and non-immigrant visas to nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, and entry of such nationals to the United States for a 90-day period. The Court made clear in its decision that portions of the EO’s 90-day “travel ban” can be enforced immediately, with a full hearing by the Court to come in the fall of this year. In releasing its decision, the Court also identified individuals who will remain exempt from the ban. These include individuals from the aforementioned six countries who can demonstrate a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” Individuals who satisfy this standard may continue to apply to enter the United States, including during the 90-day period that commenced on Monday, June 26. It is ECFMG’s understanding that the ban will be re‑instated within 72 hours of the Court’s decision for those without such a relationship.

In reviewing the Court’s decision, it seems likely that physicians traveling to the United States with a contract to engage in a program of graduate medical education (GME) would satisfy the Court’s requirement for a “bona fide relationship” and therefore would be exempt from the travel ban, in light of the following two examples provided by the Court of a qualifying relationship: 1) a student admitted to an American university and 2) a worker with an accepted offer of employment from an American employer. However, it is important to note that it will be up to other agencies of the U.S. government (i.e., Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection, Department of State) to interpret the Court’s ruling. Therefore, ECFMG cannot speculate on how the Court’s ruling will be applied. Please see https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/06/26/dhs-statement-us-supreme-court-decision-president-s-executive-order-protecting for a preliminary press release from the Department of Homeland Security, and continue to monitor the websites of the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State for on-going updates.

The Court’s order seems to require foreign national physicians who wish to travel to the United States to have a “bona fide relationship” that precedes the proposed travel. Medical students from one of the banned countries who are participating in U.S. electives at the invitation of a U.S. institution and/or those who seek to enter the United States to sit for the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills exam may still be eligible to apply for a visa or entry based on the documented relationship with a U.S. entity, per the criterion set forth by the Court that the qualifying relationship be “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading EO-2.” Applicants seeking to enter the United States to form a relationship where none yet exists would be subject to the ban.

This communication is merely educational in nature, and does not constitute legal advice. ECFMG encourages individuals who may be affected by this or any other immigration development to seek advice from their own legal counsel.

ECFMG will continue to follow developments related to the EO and to work closely with immigration counsel and other organizations in the U.S. GME community to determine impacts on foreign national physicians in U.S. GME and those who participate in other ECFMG programs and services. We will provide updates, as they become available, via our website, Twitter feeds, and Facebook page. Please do not hesitate to direct any questions to casemanager@ecfmg.org.

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Message to: Applicants Participating in the 2017 Match
From: William W. Pinsky, MD, ECFMG’s President and Chief Executive Officer

March 9, 2017

On March 6, 2017 President Trump issued a revised Executive Order temporarily suspending entry to the United States of foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, effective March 16, 2017. ECFMG is following this situation closely and is working with immigration counsel and other interested organizations. The following provides relevant information regarding the revised Executive Order pertaining to applicants participating in the 2017 Main Residency Match.

    1. Some Match Applicants from the Six Countries May Be Exempted from the Executive Order: The suspension provision of the Executive Order does not apply to: any individual who had a valid U.S. visa at 5:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time in the United States, on January 27, 2017; any individual who has a valid U.S. visa on March 16, 2017; any individual who is within the United States on March 16, 2017; any lawful permanent resident of the United States; any dual national of a country designated in the Executive Order if/when the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country; any foreign national traveling on a diplomatic visa or diplomatic-type visa; or any foreign national who has been granted asylum, any refugee already admitted to the United States or any other individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

 

  1. Match Applicants from the Six Countries Currently Outside of the United States May Be Impacted by the Executive Order: Subject to certain exceptions, if you are currently outside of the United States, will not be present in the United States as of March 16, 2017, did not have a valid visa as of January 27, 2017, at 5:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time in the United States, and do not have a valid visa as of March 16, 2017, or if you do not meet one of the exception criteria set forth at Section 3(b) of the Executive Order, you may be subject to a “pause” on the entry of nationals from the six designated countries for a period of 90 days, until June 14, 2017. However, the revised Executive Order outlines provisions for a case-by-case waiver of the suspension as deemed appropriate by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and/or Department of State (DOS). Specifically, the Executive Order states that waivers “could be appropriate” for several reasons, including those listed below that may be applicable to physicians seeking to enter the United States to commence graduate medical education (GME):
    • The foreign national has previously established significant contacts with the United States but is outside of the United States on the effective date of the Executive Order for work, study, or other lawful activity;
    • The foreign national seeks to enter the United States for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry during the suspension period would impair those obligations;
    • The foreign national is a landed Canadian immigrant who applies for a visa at a location within Canada.

    The following provides information for foreign national physicians who successfully match to U.S. GME programs for the 2017/2018 academic year, apply for a J-1 visa or H-1 visa, and seek a “visa suspension waiver request.”

J-1 Visa Applicant Information

A physician from one of the six countries designated in the Executive Order who matches to a U.S. GME program and seeks J-1 status is advised of the following:

  • You must work with the Training Program Liaison (TPL) at the U.S. host teaching hospital to which you matched to submit a J-1 visa sponsorship application to ECFMG as soon as possible. (See http://www.ecfmg.org/evsp/application-online.html)
  • Each ECFMG-issued Form DS-2019 issued to a national of one of the six countries will include a packet of information that can be presented to a U.S. consular official in support of a visa suspension waiver request.
H-1B Visa Applicant Information

A physician from one of the six countries designated in the Executive Order who matches to a U.S. GME program and seeks H-1B status is advised of the following:

  • Work with the U.S. host teaching hospital/employer to file an H-1B petition as soon as possible.
  • If you would like ECFMG to provide you with documentation to support your visa suspension waiver request, please contact ECFMG staff by e-mail at CaseManager@ecfmg.org.

    1. Match Applicants from the Six Countries Currently in the United States Seeking a Change of Visa Status: If you are a foreign national of one of the six countries and currently in the United States in valid visa status, you may be eligible to seek a change of status within the United States through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), or you may depart from the United States and attempt to obtain a new visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. If you are seeking a visa at a consulate abroad and fall within the scope of the suspension provision of the Executive Order, you must obtain a waiver as part of your visa application.

 

    1. All Match Applicants Requiring Nonimmigrant Visa Status May Experience Visa Processing Delays, Regardless of Country of Citizenship: Regardless of your country of citizenship and location, there may be delays in processing your visa application or USCIS application, due to new screening and vetting procedures called for in the Executive Order. ECFMG is working on a resource guide for consular officials, and this information will be available on ECFMG’s website in the future.

 

  1. Match Applicants Unable to Begin Training on July 1, 2017 Should Contact NRMP: The National Resident Matching Program has informed ECFMG that it will be liberal in granting waivers if applicants and programs are unable to meet their Match commitments. Questions and waiver requests should be directed to policy@nrmp.org.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has posted questions and answers regarding the March 6, 2017 Executive Order on its website at https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/03/06/qa-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states. You are encouraged to review the information at this link.

The information in this e-mail is provided for informational purposes only and should not be understood as providing legal advice. ECFMG recommends that you consult legal counsel if you seek advice about your immigration status.

ECFMG is committed to supporting the well-being of all foreign national physicians seeking training in the United States. Please know that ECFMG is here as a resource for you. We will provide updates, as they become available, via our website, Twitter feed, and Facebook page. In the meantime, please contact us at CaseManager@ECFMG.org with any questions.

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Message to: ECFMG-sponsored J-1 Physicians
From: William W. Pinsky, MD, ECFMG’s President and Chief Executive Officer

March 9, 2017

On March 6, 2017, President Donald Trump issued a revised Executive Order (EO) limiting entry into the United States of foreign nationals from six countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, effective March 16, 2017. The revised EO details a 90-day suspension of entry to the United States by foreign nationals of the six aforementioned countries; however, it does not prohibit currently-sponsored J-1 physicians from seeking sponsorship renewal and extension of the program end date listed on an unexpired Form DS-2019. Therefore, we are writing to reiterate and confirm that ECFMG continues to review and process sponsorship renewal applications for all eligible J-1 applicants, including those from the six countries designated in the EO. As a reminder, sponsorship renewal applications must be initiated by the Training Program Liaison (TPL) at your U.S. host teaching hospital. Please work with your TPL to complete all application requirements as soon as possible.

J-1 physicians and J-2 dependents who are nationals of the six countries and have an expired passport visa (stamp) are strongly discouraged from international travel while the visa suspension remains in effect. This information is provided for informational purposes and should not be understood as providing legal advice. Consult with a qualified immigration attorney with questions specific to your eligibility to travel and review the questions and answers provided on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website at https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/03/06/qa-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states.

We want to again remind you that we are committed to supporting the well-being of all foreign national physicians in training in the United States. Please know that ECFMG is here as a resource for you. We will provide updates, as they become available, via our website, Twitter feed, and Facebook page. In the meantime, please contact the EVSP program at evsp-support@ecfmg.org if we can be of assistance.

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Message to: Designated Institutional Officials, Program Directors, and Training Program Liaisons (TPLs)
From: William W. Pinsky, MD, ECFMG’s President and Chief Executive Officer

March 17, 2017

ECFMG is reaching out to provide you with an update with respect to President Trump’s March 6, 2017, Executive Order suspending the issuance of immigrant and non-immigrant visas to nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. As of March 16, 2017, two federal judges have issued rulings temporarily blocking the President’s entry ban. Therefore, individuals from the aforementioned six countries remain eligible to apply for entry visas to the United States, and the U.S. Department of State has indicated it will continue with processing visa applications as before, including for applicants from the six countries.

It is important to note that the information offered above specifically pertains to the March 6, 2017, Executive Order and related visa suspension. Another recent issue potentially impacting foreign national physicians is the government’s six-month halt on H-1B premium processing. The temporary suspension for premium processing remains in effect. See https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-will-temporarily-suspend-premium-processing-all-h-1b-petitions for additional information.

Additional information and clarification related to the March 6, 2017, Executive Order can be found below.

Successful Match Applicants:

While the federal judges’ recent rulings may be challenged and revisited, the 90-day suspension of the issuance of entry visas to individuals from the six designated countries is, as previously indicated, temporarily stayed. Although there continue to be no guarantees, foreign national physicians from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen currently remain eligible to seek U.S. visas. (Note that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has not yet issued a press release or other guidance as to its interpretation of the federal judges’ rulings.)

As a reminder, the March 6, 2017, visa suspension did not apply to individuals who are lawful permanent residents of the United States or to any dual national of a country designated in the Executive Order if/when the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country. Additionally, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) continues to adjudicate applications and petitions filed for or on behalf of individuals in the United States regardless of their country of origin.

Currently Sponsored J-1 Physicians:

As indicated in our previous correspondence, the March 6, 2017, Executive Order did not preclude ECFMG from processing renewal applications and extending the valid visa status for currently sponsored J-1 physicians. Therefore, ECFMG reminds you that our Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program (EVSP) is currently accepting and reviewing applications initiated by TPLs on behalf of both incoming and current J-1 physicians, including those submitted on behalf of individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. All potential J-1 physicians should submit complete sponsorship applications to EVSP as soon as possible as visa interview wait times at U.S. consulates may be lengthy.

ECFMG will continue to provide updates, as they become available, via our website, Twitter feed, and Facebook page. Please do not hesitate to direct any questions to casemanager@ecfmg.org.

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Message to: Designated Institutional Officials, Program Directors, and Training Program Liaisons (TPLs)
From: William W. Pinsky, MD, ECFMG’s President and Chief Executive Officer

March 9, 2017

ECFMG is aware that the results of the NRMP Main Residency Match will be released next week and that many of you may have questions with respect to the impact that President Trump’s revised Executive Order (EO) of March 6, 2017, may have on foreign national physicians seeking to enter or currently participating in one of your training programs. The following information is offered to highlight key components of the EO and clarify potential issues for physicians:

    1. General Scope of the EO: The EO suspends the entry of most foreign nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen for a period of 90 days beginning March 16, 2017. Nationals of Iraq, previously subject to the terms of the President’s January 27, 2017 EO, are excluded from the revised travel ban.

 

    1. Current J-1 Sponsored Physicians: The EO does not prohibit currently sponsored J-1 physicians from seeking sponsorship renewal and extension of the program end date listed on an unexpired Form DS-2019. Training Program Liaisons (TPLs) can continue to initiate sponsorship renewal applications for all eligible J-1 applicants, including those from the six countries designated in the EO.

 

    1. Exemptions from the EO: The revised EO exempts several classes of individuals from the suspension, including the following:
      • Any individual who had a valid U.S. visa at 5:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time in the United States, on January 27, 2017;
      • Any individual who has a valid U.S. visa on March 16, 2017;
      • Any individual who is within the United States on March 16, 2017;
      • Any lawful permanent resident of the United States;
      • Any dual national of a country designated in the EO if/when the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country;
      • Any foreign national traveling on a diplomatic visa or diplomatic-type visa;
      • Any foreign national who has been granted asylum, any refugee already admitted to the United States or any other individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

 

  1. Waivers to the EO: The EO outlines provisions for case-by-case waivers of the suspension provision. Physicians who have matched may be eligible for a “suspension waiver”. Waivers may be deemed appropriate by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and/or Department of State (DOS). Specifically, the EO states that waivers “could be appropriate” for several reasons, including those listed below that may be applicable to physicians seeking to enter the United States to commence graduate medical education (GME):
    • The foreign national has previously established significant contacts with the United States but is outside of the United States on the effective date of the Executive Order for work, study, or other lawful activity;
    • The foreign national seeks to enter the United States for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry during the suspension period would impair those obligations;
    • The foreign national is a landed Canadian immigrant who applies for a visa at a location within Canada.

    Physicians who have matched may meet some of the criteria above and should request a waiver if the individual is outside of the United States on the effective date of March 16, 2017.

    The following provides information for program directors to support visa applications and visa suspension waiver requests.

 

J-1 Visa Applicant Information

Host institutions with matched applicants seeking J-1 visa sponsorship through ECFMG are advised of the following:

  • Application to ECFMG: J-1 physicians must work with the Training Program Liaison (TPL) at the U.S. host teaching hospital to which he/she matched to submit a J-1 sponsorship application to ECFMG as soon as possible. (See http://www.ecfmg.org/evsp/application-online.html)
  • Supporting Documents: Host institutions are encouraged to prepare a letter in support of the physician’s visa suspension waiver request, if applicable. Additionally, each ECFMG-issued Form DS-2019 for a national of one of the six countries will include a packet of information that can be presented to a consular official in support of a visa suspension waiver request.
H-1B Visa Applicant Information

Host institutions petitioning for an H-1B visa on behalf of an applicant are advised of the following:

  • Premium Processing: Be cognizant that premium processing for all H-1B petitions will be suspended on Monday, April 3, 2017, for up to six months. You must ensure any H-1B petitions seeking premium processing are delivered to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) no later than Friday, March 31, 2017.
  • Expedited Processing: After April 3, you may request expedited case review if your institution is either a “nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States” or your institution can demonstrate “severe financial loss to company or person”, a “humanitarian reason” or a “compelling USCIS interest”. We suggest that you seek guidance from an immigration attorney, but additional information on the expedited processing may be found at https://www.uscis.gov/forms/expedite-criteria.
  • Supporting Documents: ECFMG is developing material to support an applicant’s visa suspension waiver request. If you would like this information, please contact ECFMG at CaseManager@ecfmg.org.

    1. Consular Resources: ECFMG is working on resources for consular officials to aid in processing visa applications. This information will be available on ECFMG’s website in the future.

 

  1. NRMP Resources: The National Resident Matching Program has informed ECFMG that it will be liberal in granting waivers if applicants and programs are unable to meet their Match commitments. Questions and waiver requests should be directed to policy@nrmp.org.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has posted questions and answers regarding the EO on its website at https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/03/06/qa-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states. You are encouraged to review the information at this link.

The information in this e-mail is provided for informational purposes only and should not be understood as providing legal advice. ECFMG recommends that you consult legal counsel if you seek advice about the immigration status of any particular individual.

Like you, ECFMG is committed to supporting the well-being of all foreign national physicians seeking training in the United States. Please know that ECFMG is here as a resource for you and your foreign national physicians. We will provide updates, as they become available, via our website, Twitter feed, and Facebook page. In the meantime, please contact us at CaseManager@ECFMG.org with any questions.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

March 9, 2017

ECFMG provides the following FAQs to support applicants. They are provided for informational purposes only and should not be understood as providing legal advice. ECFMG recommends that you consult legal counsel if you seek advice about your immigration status.

Q. I am a national from one of the six listed countries and I was not permitted to travel to the United States to take the USMLE Step 2 CS examination. How can ECFMG help?
A. ECFMG is committed to supporting those individuals who have been impacted by the executive order. You should contact ECFMG directly by sending an e-mail to info@ecfmg.org or calling us at (215) 386-5900, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Eastern Time in the United States, Monday through Friday. We will work with you to seek a solution in the event that you have not been/will not be granted entry into the United States.

 

Q. I have additional questions about how I may be impacted by the Executive Order. Whom can I contact?
A. Please contact ECFMG by sending an e-mail to info@ecfmg.org or calling us at (215) 386-5900, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Eastern Time in the United States, Monday through Friday.

 

Q. Where can I find more information on the Executive Order?
A. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has published FAQs Related to U.S. Executive Orders 13769 & 13780 on its website at https://www.aamc.org/download/476036/data/immigrationfaqs.pdf, which you may find helpful.

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