Announcement Regarding ERAS 2021 Token Issuance

Please note that you can no longer use ECFMG’s OASIS to request a Token for the ERAS 2021 season. If a program requests that you submit an ERAS application for the 2021 season and you do not already have a 2021 Token, please call (215) 966-3520 to reach an ERAS Support Services representative to request a 2021 Token.

If you plan to use ERAS to apply for residency positions that start on July 1, 2022, you can request a 2022 Token via ECFMG’s OASIS beginning in late June 2021.

Matched Foreign National Physicians Seeking J-1 Visa Sponsorship for the 2021-2022 Academic Year

ECFMG|FAIMER remains ready to serve foreign national physicians seeking initial J-1 visa sponsorship to enter U.S. programs of graduate medical education (GME) in July 2021. According to results of the 2021 Main Residency Match®, 4,356 foreign national physicians matched to first-year residency positions. As the 2021 J-1 visa application season begins, below are a few reminders:

  • The Statement of Need (SON) is a regulatory requirement for all J-1 physicians. In 2020, ECFMG received authorization to accept electronically signed SONs. Applicants for J-1 visa sponsorship are encouraged to pursue this expedient option. Learn more on the SON webpage.
  • The U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced in April 2020 that U.S. embassies and consulates would resume visa services for medical professionals with an approved Form DS-2019. If requests for a J-1 visa interview are not accommodated, please e-mail EVSP-support@ecfmg.org with the applicant’s name, USMLE Identification Number, and the city/country of the consulate or embassy in question. ECFMG|FAIMER will work in partnership with DOS to help mitigate these issues.
  • The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has published a library of guidance and resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Current and prospective J-1 physicians and their training programs are encouraged to review and monitor this important information.
  • ECFMG|FAIMER collaborated with other national leaders in GME and medical school student leaders to develop a new toolkit of resources to support medical school graduates and U.S. GME programs in the transition to the first year of GME during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ECFMG|FAIMER is committed to supporting training programs and foreign national physicians throughout the 2021 visa application season and to ensuring J-1 physicians can join their programs on time in July. The ECFMG|FAIMER Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program (EVSP) will communicate with all relevant stakeholders about any new immigration or COVID-19-related issues that may impact J-1 physicians and their training programs.

Match Day Adds 7,500+ International Medical Graduates to U.S. GME Programs

International Medical Graduate (IMG) Performance in the 2020 Main Residency Match
(Click to enlarge)

More than 7,500 international medical graduates (IMGs) obtained first-year residency positions in U.S. programs of graduate medical education (GME), an increase of 132 from last year, according to results of the 2021 Main Residency Match® announced Friday by the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®). The number of first-year residency positions offered in the 2021 Match increased by 928 (2.7%) to 35,194 over 2020.

The 7,508 IMGs who matched represent an overall IMG match rate of 57% in this highly competitive process. Of the IMGs who matched, 3,152 are U.S. citizens, a decrease of two, compared to last year. The number of positions obtained by foreign national IMGs is 4,356, an increase of 134 compared to last year. The match rates for U.S.-citizen and foreign national IMGs are 59.5% and 54.8%, respectively. An infographic on IMG performance in the 2021 Match can be found here.

The journey to the 2021 Match for IMGs was fraught with changes and challenges spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, including worldwide disruptions to medical education and changes to the certification process for IMGs. Despite the challenges, William W. Pinsky, MD, President and CEO of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates | Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (ECFMG®|FAIMER®), said that he was pleased with the outcome of the Match for IMGs.

“ECFMG|FAIMER succeeded in ensuring an applicant pool of international medical graduates for the Match that was ample, diverse, and highly qualified, which is vital for the U.S. health care system,” Dr. Pinsky said. “IMGs play an important role in providing supervised patient care, contribute much needed diversity to our nation’s health care system, and help to address the nation’s growing physician shortage that is being exacerbated by the pandemic.”

ECFMG|FAIMER assesses the readiness of IMGs before they enter U.S. GME. The program for certifying IMGs is a rigorous process that includes passing components of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®), the same examinations required of U.S. medical school students and graduates, and demonstration of clinical and communication skills. As part of the certification process, ECFMG|FAIMER also verifies the authenticity of IMGs’ medical education credentials, including their medical diplomas, directly with the issuing medical schools. Only IMGs who are certified by ECFMG can enter accredited U.S. GME programs.

Beginning in March 2020, the pandemic forced the suspension and eventual permanent discontinuation of the Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) component of USMLE, which had been used by IMGs to demonstrate the clinical and communication skills required for ECFMG Certification. ECFMG|FAIMER moved quickly to develop five pathways to allow qualified IMGs who had not passed Step 2 CS to meet the requirements for ECFMG Certification and participation in the 2021 Match. The pathways were critical to producing a robust IMG applicant pool for this Match. Approximately 6,000 IMGs who registered for the 2021 Match completed a pathway; this represents one-third of the total number of IMGs in the Match.

“Appropriate clinical and communication skills are essential for physicians who participate in U.S. graduate medical education,” Dr. Pinsky said. “The pathways ensure that the U.S. public and the U.S. GME community can continue to rely on ECFMG Certification as an indicator that IMGs are ready to enter U.S. GME and to provide supervised patient care.”

For the 2022 Match, ECFMG|FAIMER is expanding the pathways for IMGs to meet the requirements for ECFMG Certification. With the addition of a sixth pathway and changes to certain eligibility requirements, ECFMG|FAIMER expects that more IMGs will be eligible to pursue a pathway for the Match.

“The expansion of the pathways currently underway for the 2022 Match will ensure the continuity and integrity of ECFMG Certification and the vital service it provides to the U.S. public, the U.S. GME community, and to qualified IMGs who pursue training in our nation’s teaching hospitals,” Dr. Pinsky said.

Update on Pathways for ECFMG Certification for 2022 Match

As announced on January 26, 2021, ECFMG®|FAIMER® will offer expanded pathways for international medical graduates (IMGs) to meet the requirements for ECFMG Certification and to participate in the 2022 National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®) Main Residency Match® (The Match®). On February 16, 2021, ECFMG|FAIMER published additional information on the 2022 pathways, including:

  • information on who should use the pathways;
  • general eligibility requirements for all pathways;
  • information on the individual pathways, including the new sixth pathway;
  • expected availability of the on-line application; and
  • important information for 2021 pathway applicants.

To access the updated information, visit Requirements for ECFMG Certification for 2022 Match.

Additional information, including detailed eligibility requirements and application instructions, will be published as it becomes available. Please monitor the ECFMG website for updates.

ECFMG|FAIMER Will Offer Expanded Pathways for 2022 Match

ECFMG®|FAIMER® will expand its pathways for international medical graduates (IMGs) to meet the requirements for ECFMG Certification and to participate in the 2022 National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®) Main Residency Match® (The Match®). The pathways evaluate IMGs’ clinical and communication skills—skills that are critically important to participate in U.S. graduate medical education (GME) and to provide supervised patient care.

Until mid-March 2020, IMGs were required to pass Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) to satisfy the clinical and communication skills requirements for ECFMG Certification. The USMLE program suspended Step 2 CS in March of last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequently indicated that it would take 12-18 months to bring back a modified Step 2 CS exam. In June 2020, ECFMG|FAIMER established five pathways to allow IMGs who had not passed Step 2 CS to meet ECFMG’s clinical and communication requirements and to participate in the 2021 Match (in March 2021). On January 26, 2021, the USMLE program announced that it had decided to discontinue the Step 2 CS exam.

In establishing the pathways, ECFMG|FAIMER has ensured that ECFMG Certification continues to perform the critical role for which the program was established more than 60 years ago—assessing the readiness of IMGs to enter U.S. GME. Clinical and communication skills are essential components of this readiness, and an evaluation of these skills always has been required for ECFMG Certification due to the variety in medical education systems at more than 3,000 medical schools around the world. The pathways ensure that the U.S. public and the U.S. GME community can continue to rely on ECFMG Certification as an indicator that IMGs are ready to enter U.S. GME and to provide supervised patient care.

The ECFMG|FAIMER pathways for the 2021 Match succeeded in producing an IMG applicant pool that is ample, diverse, and highly qualified. ECFMG expects to certify approximately 5,000 IMGs based on one of these pathways leading up to the July 1, 2021 start date for U.S. GME programs. Overall, more than 19,000 IMGs have applied to residency positions beginning in 2021 through the Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS®).

The expansion of the pathways currently underway for the 2022 Match ensures the continuity and integrity of ECFMG Certification and the vital service it provides to the U.S. public, the U.S. GME community, and to qualified IMGs who pursue training in our nation’s teaching hospitals.

The pathways for IMGs planning to participate in the 2022 Match (in March 2022) will expand on the pathways that were established for the 2021 Match. The existing five pathways will continue to be offered with some modifications. ECFMG|FAIMER has identified an additional pathway for evaluation of clinical skills. As a result of the addition of this sixth pathway and changes to certain eligibility requirements, we expect more IMGs to be eligible to pursue a pathway for the 2022 Match. Detailed information on eligibility is not yet available; please monitor the ECFMG website since we expect to publish guidelines very soon.

Consistent with the requirements for the existing pathways, IMGs who pursue one of the six pathways for the 2022 Match will be required to pass the Occupational English Test (OET) Medicine to satisfy pathway requirements. OET Medicine is designed specifically for physicians, in consultation with physicians. The test assesses the health care-specific English language competency of physicians. It emphasizes the type of language physicians will need to communicate effectively in a clinical setting with peers and patients, including the ability to show empathy and to break down complex medical terminology and procedures into simpler language.

Who Should Use the Pathways?

The six pathways for the 2022 Match are intended for IMGs who need to meet the clinical and communication skills requirements for ECFMG Certification and who plan to participate in the 2022 Match (in March 2022).

IMGs who applied to a pathway for the 2021 Match and whose 2021 application was rejected can reapply to a pathway for the 2022 Match. Please see “Important Information for 2021 Pathways Applicants,” below.

The following individuals already have satisfied the clinical and communication skills requirements for ECFMG Certification and therefore do not need to pursue a pathway to meet these requirements or to participate in the 2022 Match:

  • IMGs who have a passing performance on Step 2 CS that is valid for ECFMG Certification,
  • IMGs who are certified by ECFMG, and
  • IMGs with an approved pathways 2021 application.

 Application to the pathways for the 2022 Match is not yet available. Please monitor the ECFMG website for information on the availability of the on-line application for the expanded pathways.

Important Information for 2021 Pathways Applicants

If your pathway application for the 2021 Match is approved and you do not enter U.S. GME in 2021, you will not be required to apply for a pathway for the 2022 Match. Your previously accepted pathway application will remain valid for the 2022 Match.

If you applied to a pathway for the 2021 Match and your application is rejected, you can pursue a pathway for the 2022 Match, provided you meet all eligibility requirements, but you will be required to reapply. Please monitor the ECFMG website for information on the timeline to reapply.

More Information on Pathways for 2022 Match

ECFMG|FAIMER is developing detailed information on eligibility and application procedures, including documentation requirements. ECFMG also is preparing the on-line pathways application to accept applications from IMGs who plan to participate in the 2022 Match. Please monitor the ECFMG website, since updates will be posted as they become available.

Please contact the USMLE Program with any questions on its decision to discontinue Step 2 CS and any other USMLE-related inquiries.

IMGs Eligible for Pathways Under Expanded Requirements Can Apply Now

Details on the expanded eligibility requirements and instructions for Pathways 1, 2, and 4 are now available in the Requirements for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match section of the ECFMG website. International medical graduates (IMGs) who believe they are eligible under the expanded requirements can apply using the on-line Application for Pathways for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match.

For an overview of the changes to Pathways 1, 2, and 4, please see the previous announcement. Other eligibility requirements apply to specific pathways, and all applicants who apply to a pathway must meet all other requirements for ECFMG Certification.

If you are just beginning your pathways application based on the expanded eligibility criteria, you are strongly encouraged to apply to the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) now and to complete your ERAS application as soon as possible.

Eligibility Requirements for Pathways Expanded, More IMGs May Be Eligible

ECFMG|FAIMER has expanded the eligibility requirements for certain pathways used to meet the Requirements for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match, and additional international medical graduates (IMGs) may be eligible to apply to the pathways. Details on the expanded eligibility requirements and instructions are under development and will be posted to ECFMG’s website as soon as possible. We also are updating the on-line Application for Pathways for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match to allow newly eligible applicants to apply. Please monitor the ECFMG website for the status of the updated information and on-line application.

We are providing this preliminary information now so that individuals who may be eligible under these expanded requirements can make decisions regarding their applications to residency programs for 2021. Program directors can begin downloading residency applications through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) on October 21.

If you want to apply to a pathway and believe you are eligible based on the expanded eligibility criteria outlined below, you are strongly encouraged to apply to ERAS now and to complete your ERAS application as soon as possible.

Eligibility requirements have been expanded for Pathways 1, 2, and 4, and the changes are highlighted below. Other eligibility requirements apply to specific pathways, and all applicants who apply to a pathway must meet all other requirements for ECFMG Certification.

Pathway 1:

The types of licenses that satisfy the requirements for Pathway 1 have been expanded. The following has been added as acceptable:

  • Applicant has held a license/registration to participate in postgraduate medical education (i.e., a provisional or training license/registration for postgraduate training) in any country at any time on or after January 1, 2015.
    • The license does not need to permit unsupervised practice.
    • A provisional or training license/registration for the purpose of participating in pregraduate clinical training does not meet the requirements for Pathway 1.

Pathway 2:

There is now an additional option for satisfying the requirements for Pathway 2. The new option is:

  • Applicant attends or has graduated from a medical school in a country where the medical regulatory authority requires an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) for licensure of IMGs but does not mandate that same licensure requirement for graduates of domestic medical schools.
    • Students/graduates of medical schools in Malaysia will satisfy the requirements for this new option. These schools will be added to the list of schools eligible for Pathway 2 as soon as possible.

Pathway 4:

The requirements for Pathway 4 have been expanded to include the following:

  • Applicant attends or has graduated from a medical school that is accredited by an agency that has received a determination of comparability by the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation (NCFMEA).
    • Schools that are accredited by the following agencies meet the new requirements:
      • Czech Republic – National Accreditation Bureau for Higher Education
      • Dominican Republic – Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology
      • Hungary – Hungarian Accreditation Committee
      • Israel – Council for Higher Education
      • Poland – Polish Accreditation Committee
      • United Kingdom – General Medical Council
    • The schools that meet the new requirements will be added to the list of schools eligible for Pathway 4 as soon as possible. If you are unsure if your school is accredited by an agency listed above, please contact your school or the accrediting agency.

More information will be made available as soon as possible. Please monitor the ECFMG website for updates.

Application for Pathways for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match Now Available

The on-line Application for Pathways for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match is now available. Qualified international medical students/graduates (IMGs) who intend to participate in the 2021 Main Residency Match® and are unable to take Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) due to the suspension of that exam may be able to meet the requirements for ECFMG Certification through one of five pathways.

Eligibility requirements and detailed instructions for applying to the pathways, including information on required documentation, application timing, fees, and a limited exceptions process, are available on the ECFMG website.

In order to ensure adequate time to address any technical issues that may arise with the new pathways application, please note that it may be unavailable between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., U.S. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in the coming business days if updates are necessary.

Detailed Information on Pathways Application Process Now Available

On August 20, ECFMG|FAIMER published additional information on the new requirements for ECFMG Certification for the 2021 Match. The new information includes detailed instructions for applying to the pathways, which will allow qualified IMGs who have not passed Step 2 CS to meet the requirements for ECFMG Certification and the 2021 Match. Information on required documentation, application timing, fees, and a limited exceptions process also is available.

Potential applicants can use this information to preview the on-line application process and to prepare for the launch of the on-line pathways application at the end of August.

Update on New Requirements for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match

ECFMG®|FAIMER® has established five pathways that will allow qualified international medical graduates (IMGs) who have not passed Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) to meet the requirements for ECFMG Certification. These pathways are available to eligible IMGs who plan to enter U.S. graduate medical education (GME) for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Since announcing the pathways in mid-June, ECFMG|FAIMER has been working aggressively to develop additional information and processes that will enable IMGs to use the pathways. In this announcement, we provide some important updates on these efforts:

Application for Pathways for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match Available by End of August

This week, ECFMG|FAIMER announced that the on-line application process for the pathways will be available by the end of August. Detailed instructions for using the application will be published in approximately mid-August, allowing potential applicants to preview the process and make advance preparations.

As published by the Association of American Medical Colleges, during the 2021 application season for the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®), residency programs may begin reviewing applications on October 21, 2020. This is approximately one month later than prior years. This delay, implemented as a result of the major issues facing applicants and training programs as they prepare for the 2021 residency application cycle, will allow IMG applicants additional time to meet pathway requirements.

Additional Resources

ECFMG|FAIMER has published a 20-minute webinar tailored to the needs of leaders in the U.S. GME community. The webinar provides additional details about the new requirements for ECFMG Certification for the 2021 Match and answers some frequently asked questions received from members of U.S. GME. The webinar is available from Resources in the Requirements for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match section of the ECFMG website.

ECFMG|FAIMER also has published an expanded set of frequently asked questions about the Occupational English Test (OET) Medicine, the English language proficiency assessment that is required of all IMGs who pursue a pathway. ECFMG|FAIMER recently confirmed that IMGs pursuing a pathway must take OET Medicine by December 31, 2020 to help ensure enough time for ECFMG|FAIMER to determine applicant status and report that status to the National Resident Matching Program® by the NRMP® Rank Order List Certification deadline for the 2021 Match.

Preliminary Volume Indicators for IMGs in 2021 Match

ECFMG|FAIMER is the designated Dean’s Office for all IMGs who use ERAS to apply to first- and second-year (PGY-1 and PGY-2) residency positions in U.S. GME. To begin the ERAS application process, IMGs must obtain an ERAS Token from ECFMG|FAIMER. Through the end of July, ECFMG|FAIMER issued more than 11,400 ERAS 2021 Residency Tokens to IMGs, the same number when compared to last year at this time.

Pre-registration is available to IMGs who plan to take OET Medicine to satisfy the English language proficiency requirement associated with the pathways. As of this writing, more than 8,500 individuals have pre-registered to take OET Medicine.

Please continue to visit the ECFMG website, since additional resources and updates will be published as they become available.