Related ECFMG Services
J-1 Visa Sponsorship
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 educational and cultural exchange between the people of the United States and other nations. In keeping with the program's goals for international education, J-1 Exchange Visitor physicians are required to return home for at least two years following their training before being eligible for certain U.S. visas.
The U.S. Department of State has designated ECFMG as the visa sponsor for all J-1 Exchange Visitor physicians who participate in clinical training programs. ECFMG sponsorship is also available for physicians’ eligible dependents. As the visa sponsor, ECFMG processes applications for J-1 visa sponsorship and, for eligible applicants, issues a document that the applicant can use to apply for the J-1 visa. ECFMG is responsible for ensuring that J-1 physicians and host institutions meet the federal requirements for participation throughout the duration of sponsorship. ECFMG does not sponsor physicians for other U.S. visa types.
All initial applicants for ECFMG J-1 sponsorship are advised that sponsorship eligibility should not be presumed and cannot be determined until a complete review of an individual’s U.S. visa history has been conducted. The U.S. Department of State has expressed concern about individuals with a history of “transiting non-immigrant visa types” and has advised ECFMG against sponsoring individuals who previously held J status and switched to an alternate visa classification or J category before applying to ECFMG. Therefore, any history of multiple changes in visa classification and/or movement between multiple J categories may negate sponsorship eligibility.
For detailed, up-to-date information on J-1 visa sponsorship by ECFMG, visit the Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program (EVSP) section of the ECFMG website at www.ecfmg.org/evsp.
Important Note: Foreign national physicians who are international medical graduates and are seeking ECFMG J-1 visa sponsorship to enroll in graduate medical education programs must, among other requirements, have passed USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK; or the former Visa Qualifying Examination (VQE), National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Part 1 and Part 2, or Foreign Medical Graduate Examination in the Medical Sciences (FMGEMS) examinations; or an acceptable combination thereof. The former one-day ECFMG Examination and three-day Federation Licensing Examination (FLEX) do not meet the requirements for J-1 visa sponsorship.