News

Status on Prometric Testing – May 1, 2020

The USMLE program is aware that several Prometric test centers are erroneously listed as open, so some examinees with confirmed slots were met with closed centers when Prometric resumed limited testing on May 1st. This has led to increased confusion during an already difficult situation for examinees. The USMLE program is working to immediately find resolution to these issues.

The USMLE program has been and continues to be in daily contact with Prometric to represent the needs of the examinees and stakeholders to improve the safe resumption of testing and Prometric’s communication with examinees. On May 1, USMLE program senior leaders met with Prometric to share their dissatisfaction with the current situation and the need for a clear and immediate plan. The USMLE program emphasized the impact their actions have had on this critical community and the importance of providing examinees with timely and reliable information.

The USMLE program expects capacity constraints and challenges to continue. For this reason, as previously announced, the USMLE program is  working hard to accelerate alternate test delivery solutions.

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.

USMLE Exploring Alternate Test Delivery Options

Finding safe solutions to accommodate examinees’ testing needs has been the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program’s main focus and highest priority over the past few months. Due to increasing uncertainty around having wider availability of in-person testing at Prometric test centers, the USMLE program has identified several alternate test delivery methods for Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 and has begun aggressively pursuing them.

Examinees should read the full announcement on the USMLE website.

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.

Updated Prometric Procedures

Prometric announced their extended closure of test centers until May 31, 2020 with the exception of a limited set of essential services programs. The United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) is considered an essential program, and certain centers will still be able to resume testing in accordance with local social distancing guidelines on May 1, 2020. More information about Prometric’s updated procedures, including enhanced test center measures, can be found on their website.

To conform with social distancing guidelines and keep separation between examinees, there will be a reduction of active workstations in Prometric testing rooms. To do this, Prometric plans to cancel a significant number of upcoming scheduled appointments. Their statement explains that random selection of canceled appointments will occur, and impacted candidates will be notified by Prometric starting today.

Prometric plans to expand testing capacity through increased test center hours and days of operation. Please keep checking their website for updates, and the USMLE program will continue to share new information.

The USMLE program extended eligibility periods to December 2020 for all examinees who had a USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 3, or USMLE Practice Session scheduling permit with an unexpired eligibility period with an end date in 2020, regardless of the country in which they are testing. The USMLE program will continue this process for any newly issued scheduling permits. Eligibility periods will be extended automatically, requiring no action from examinees.

The USMLE program recognizes the stress and uncertainty of this situation as many assessment programs are impacted by the backlog of examinees and the reduction of testing capacity at Prometric centers. They are actively working with the medical education and regulation community to mitigate the impact of testing disruption for U.S. and international medical students and graduates.

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.

New Trump Administration Executive Order on Immigration Does Not Impact Non-immigrant Visa Processing, Including J-1s

President Trump issued a new Executive Order (EO) on April 22, 2020 temporarily suspending the issuance of immigrant visas. Non-immigrant visa classifications, such as the J-1, are not included in the EO and are, therefore, exempt from the provisions of the order.

As previously reported, the U.S. Department of State has advised that physicians and other health care workers are deemed to be mission critical to fighting and mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Potential J-1 applicants who have been issued Form DS-2019 by ECFMG are encouraged to review the website of their nearest embassy or consulate and request a visa appointment.

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.

USMLE’s Weekly Update on COVID-19

The United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program recognizes that the testing shutdown has created great stress, uncertainty, and disruption for examinees and medical schools, affecting academic progression, curricular schedules, and application for residency. The USMLE program is doing everything it can to make decisions that prioritize the safety and health of examinees and test center staff as they develop plans to resume testing.

Beginning April 17, 2020, the USMLE program will post weekly updates on its website and social media channels, in addition to announcements, as soon as decisions are finalized.

Examinees can read the full announcement on the USMLE website and should continue to monitor the USMLE website weekly for the latest update. As always, the USMLE program will update its FAQs regarding USMLE and COVID-19 (Coronavirus) as frequently as possible.

ECFMG|FAIMER Assisting New Jersey in Bolstering COVID-19 Physician Workforce

ECFMG|FAIMER will assist the State of New Jersey by confirming the authenticity of certain credential information of internationally licensed physicians seeking temporary medical licensure to help in New Jersey’s fight against the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. New Jersey announced its program to reinforce the state’s health workforce in a press release today.

ECFMG|FAIMER is the leading expert on the medical education and credentialing of physicians around the world. “During this public health crisis, we are proud to lend our expertise to the State of New Jersey,” said ECFMG|FAIMER President and CEO William W. Pinsky, MD. “We stand ready to assist other states and organizations in this time of need.”

More information on New Jersey’s program and an on-line portal for physicians who wish to register are available here. More information about ECFMG|FAIMER activities in response to the pandemic is available on this website.

ECFMG On-line Services Unavailable April 17-19

Due to scheduled maintenance, ECFMG’s on-line services are expected to be unavailable beginning at approximately 7:00 p.m. on Friday, April 17, 2020. Services are expected to be restored by 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 19, 2020. All times are calculated using Eastern Time in the United States.

During this maintenance period, you will be unable to access most ECFMG on-line services, including the following:

  • IWA—Interactive Web Applications
  • OASIS—On-line Applicant Status and Information System
  • Step 2 CS Calendar and Scheduling
  • IAN—IMG Advisors Network
  • EMSWP—ECFMG Medical School Web Portal, and its programs for medical schools and other institutions:
    • Status Verification
    • Credentials Verification
    • Performance Data
    • EMSWP ERAS
    • GEMxSMfor Partner Institutions
  • CVS ON-LINE—Certification Verification Service On-line
  • EVNet—Exchange Visitor Network (for staff of U.S. training programs that host ECFMG-sponsored exchange visitor physicians)
  • EPICSM—Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials
    • Physician Portal
    • Report Portal
  • GEMx on-line services for students
  • MyECFMG mobile app

The World Directory of Medical Schools also will be unavailable during this maintenance period.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work to maintain high-quality on-line services.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) 4/10/2020 Update: Prometric Closures and Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3

Prometric announced on April 10 that test centers in the United States and Canada will remain closed until May 1, 2020.

In response to the previously announced closures, the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program extended eligibility periods to December 2020 for all examinees who had a USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 3, or USMLE Practice Session scheduling permit with an unexpired eligibility period with an end date in 2020, regardless of the country in which they are testing.

The USMLE program will continue this process for any newly issued scheduling permits. Eligibility periods will be extended automatically, requiring no action from examinees.

Extending the eligibility period for your Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 3, or USMLE Practice Session examination will not impact already scheduled appointments. No fees will be charged for these eligibility extensions.

Please continue to check the USMLE website and social media for updates.

If you are scheduled to take a USMLE examination in a region outside the United States and Canada, please check the Prometric website for the most current list of test center closures before going to the test center on your scheduled test day.

Thank you for your patience, cooperation, and understanding during this challenging time.

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.

(posted March 17, updated March 20; March 28; April 1, April 13)

ECFMG|FAIMER Joins Physician Coalition in Support of Protections for Health Care Workers Battling COVID-19

The Coalition for Physician Accountability on Thursday issued a statement in support of strengthened efforts to safeguard the public and protect our nation’s health care workforce during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

ECFMG|FAIMER offers its strongest endorsement of the Coalition’s call for adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and adequate testing. Both are essential to protecting our frontline health care providers and their families, and to ensuring that they can continue to care for the public.

As the agency responsible for certifying international medical graduates (IMGs) for entry to U.S. programs of graduate medical education (GME), ECFMG|FAIMER has a special connection to the IMGs that comprise one-quarter of our nation’s physician workforce. ECFMG|FAIMER also is the sole J-1 visa sponsor of foreign national physicians in U.S. GME. In this role as visa sponsor, we are currently responsible for monitoring the well-being of nearly 12,000 J-1 physicians in all levels of training at teaching hospitals across the United States.

The Coalition exemplifies the collaboration that is needed at this time of national crisis. “ECFMG|FAIMER has been working closely with Coalition members and other partners to address many of the issues now faced by physicians,” said ECFMG|FAIMER President and CEO, William W. Pinsky, MD. “Only through continued collective leadership will we be able to provide adequate support to physicians who are serving and sacrificing on the front lines.”