U.S. Department of State Indicates Additional Flexibility Regarding Statement of Need Letter for J-1 Visa Sponsorship

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has indicated additional temporary flexibilities around the issuance of the home country Statement of Need (SON) for physicians seeking J-1 visa sponsorship during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. ECFMG sought and received temporary authorization to accept SONs issued by foreign embassies in the United States, if authorized by the respective country. In addition, SONs may now be signed electronically. The SON is a regulatory requirement for all J-1 physicians and, previously, only paper SONs signed and sealed directly by the home country’s Ministry of Health were acceptable per DOS regulation. Also, the SON letter is waived for those entering fellowship training if ECFMG has a letter on file for the related specialty. These developments mark additional positive steps toward reducing the challenges faced by the thousands of foreign national physicians who are applying for J-1 visa sponsorship to participate in U.S. programs of graduate medical education beginning July 1.

For more information on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on ECFMG|FAIMER programs and what we are doing in response, please visit our COVID-19 (Coronavirus) web page.