Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program (EVSP)

For J-1 Applicants/Physicians

Frequently Asked Questions

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1. How do I initiate a J-1 sponsorship application?

Your application must be initiated by the designated Training Program Liaison (TPL) from the host institution that issued the prospective training contract. See On-line Applications for Physicians for more information.

2. How can I ensure timely review of my sponsorship application?

The best way to ensure that your application is processed in a timely manner is to review the supporting document checklist of required items, available for viewing in your sponsorship application in OASIS, and ensure that all required documentation is uploaded in support of your application by either the TPL or you. General processing times for complete applications are four to six weeks for accredited programs, and six to eight weeks for non-standard programs.

3. When am I required to submit a new Statement of Need from the Ministry of Health?

The Statement of Need is required for all initial applicants to ECFMG or if any of the following apply:

  • The applicant is entering a new specialty or subspecialty.
  • The letter on file with EVSP will expire.
  • The letter on file with EVSP is institution-specific, and a change in host institution is proposed.

4. What do I need to do in order to bring my spouse and/or child to the United States in J-2 visa status?

ECFMG is authorized to sponsor the spouse and unmarried minor children of the J-1 Exchange Visitor physician as J-2 dependents. The EVSP Reference Guide offers detailed information on dependent sponsorship. Physicians can request J-2 sponsorship for dependents on-line in the J-1 Visa Sponsorship section of OASIS.

5. I am a Canadian citizen/legal permanent resident who graduated from a medical school located outside of the United States and Canada. Am I required to be ECFMG certified?

Yes. All international medical graduates (IMGs), regardless of country of citizenship, are required to complete ECFMG Certification to be eligible for J-1 visa sponsorship for clinical GME in the United States. The location of the medical school, not the citizenship of the physician, determines whether the graduate is an IMG. This means that Canadian citizens who graduate from medical schools located outside the United States and Canada are considered IMGs and must be certified by ECFMG.

6. When applying for a J-1 visa at a U.S. consulate, do I need to submit a Form DS-7002?

No. Form DS-7002 is a new requirement for J-1 Exchange Visitors in the “trainee” category only and does not apply to foreign national physicians seeking to enter the United States for the purpose of graduate medical education in the category of J-1 “alien physician.”

7. What is the difference between “visa” and “visa status”?

There is a clear distinction between “visa” and “visa status.” A visa is the physical stamp affixed to a passport page reflecting the approved visa classification for which the foreign national may enter the United States. Visas are issued only at U.S. consulates outside of the United States. Visa status is the legal grouping under which the foreign national is categorized once physically present in the United States. Visa status is granted by the customs official at the U.S. port-of-entry or by the regional service center of USCIS.

8. Do I need to notify ECFMG or the Immigration Service if I change my U.S. residential address?

Yes. The U.S. Government requires that any non-immigrant report any change in U.S. residential address within 10 days of such a change. To fulfill this requirement, update your OASIS account within 10 days of a U.S. move and the information will be transferred to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

9. If I am currently sponsored by ECFMG in J-1 visa status, may I change my specialty?

The regulations governing the Exchange Visitor Program state that “…the alien physician may once, and not later than two years after the date the ‘alien physician’ enters the U.S. as an Exchange Visitor (or acquires exchange visitor status), change his/her designated program of graduate medical education or training…” [22CFR62.27(f)]. ECFMG is authorized to issue a change in program specialty before the completion of the second year of training. Once an Exchange Visitor enters the third year of training, a change in specialty is no longer permitted. Please see the EVSP Reference Guide for additional information.

10. Am I allowed to work or train outside my training program?

No. The primary objective of each ECFMG-sponsored Exchange Visitor is to receive graduate medical training in the United States that ultimately will enhance his/her skills in a specialty field of medicine. Therefore, employment outside of approved residency or fellowship training (or “moonlighting”) is not permitted. Detailed information on this subject is available at https://www.ecfmg.org/evsp/evspemot.pdf.

11. Can I request an extension of sponsorship for training if I have been recommended for a waiver by the U.S. Department of State?

No. Once a J-1 physician receives a U.S. Department of State waiver recommendation, he/she is no longer eligible for an extension of ECFMG J-1 sponsorship for any training activity. ECFMG has no authority to make exceptions to extend J-1 sponsorship to allow for continued training for any individual who has received a favorable waiver recommendation, regardless of circumstances. Sponsorship extensions for waiver recipients to prepare to sit for an American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) member board exam are permitted. Such extensions carry no training authorization.

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