Immigration Information for International Medical Graduates is all embedded in this write-up. If you are a medical graduate looking forward to continuing your career or education abroad, there is basic information should know. However, this write-up will be analyzing the basic information including the type of visa you need and more.

Immigration Information for International Medical Graduates

Immigration Information for International Medical Graduates

International Medical Graduates (IMG) who seek entry into US programs of Graduate Medical Education (GME) must obtain a visa that permits clinical training to provide medical services. The question now is, what type of visa is required for international physicians?

Types of Visas for Physicians – Residency Medical USA

Physicians can work in the United States using four major types of visa status, they are

  • H-1B
  • J-1
  • O-1
  • TN

However, in the year 2020 academic, 4,222 IMG physicians from across 100 countries were offered visas to facilitate residency training in different specialities. And all visas need to be renewed for the duration of residency and fellowship training, and each visa type has a different renewal schedule.

1: J-1 visa for physicians

The j-1 visa is the most common visa international medical graduates use to participate in U.S. GME programs. And most residency programs offer physicians a J-1 visa, a type of exchange visitor visa sponsored by a centralized organization ECFMG.

ECFMG is short for Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates. The organization is the only sponsor of a J-1 visa for physicians in clinical training programs (residency and fellowship), though universities can occasionally sponsor a J-1 visa for specific research track positions.

The Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is authorized by the U.S. Department of State to sponsor foreign national physicians for the J-1 visa. However, the J-1 visa is renewed every year with a DS-2019 form from the ECFMG.

How to Apply For J-1 Visa

To apply for a J-1 visa, the International Medical Graduates (IMG) must meet the following criteria:

  • Passed USMLE® step 1 and step 2 CK (or equivalent).
  • Present a valid ECFMG Certificate.
  • Have a contract or official letter of offer for a position in a program of Graduate Medical Education or training with a medical institute.
  • Provide a statement of need from the Ministry of Health of the country of last legal permanent residence (LPR) regardless of country of citizenship.
  • 2 year home country physical presence requirement
  • Upon completion of training in the US, J-1 visa holders must return to their home country for a period of 2 years to transmit the knowledge they gained in the U.S.

So, the physician must fulfil this obligation before being eligible for a change or adjustment of visa status to certain types of U.S. visas. These visa types include:

H–Temporary worker

L–Intra-company transferee

U.S.–Permanent resident

J-1 visa waivers

The waiver applicant can demonstrate that he or she will suffer from persecution in his or her home country or country of last legal permanent residence. The applicant is sponsored by an Interested Governmental Agency (IGA) that is interested in the physician’s continued employment in the United States.

2: The H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa is designed for temporary workers in speciality occupations who hold professional-level degrees. This type of visa has no 2-year home residence requirement. Thus, it allows a foreign national to enter the U.S. for professional-level employment for up to 6 years.

Further, the H-1B visa is available to graduates of foreign medical institutes who have passed the necessary examinations, and have a license or other authorization required by the state of practice. And also have an unrestricted license to practice medicine or have graduated from a foreign or U.S. medical school.

3:O-1 visa for physicians

The O-1 visa is another option for IMG physicians’ training and practice when the training program or an employer can apply. This type of visa is less commonly used for physicians on the clinical track.

Although, it might be applicable for IMGs on a research track or IMGs with extraordinary abilities in the field of science. In as much as O-1 visas do not have the requirement for USMLE, state licensure still requires that all steps of USMLE be completed.

4: TN visa for Physicians

The TN visa is for only Canadian and Mexican citizens qualified for full-time employment as professionals in an eligible field. However, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) allows these two countries’ citizens to use this temporary non-immigrant status with specific requirements for each country.

5: Immigrant visa

An immigrant visa is also known as a green card or permanent resident. It permits a foreign citizen to permanently remain in the U.S.

A lawful permanent resident (LPR) has the right to become a naturalized U.S. citizen after living in the United States for about 3 to 5 years.

However, to obtain immigrant status, one must qualify as a specified immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or another LPR, as an employee of a sponsoring employer or prospective employer or as a “diversity immigrant” under a visa lottery program.

Applicants for Immigrant visas must not fall into any of the categories of aliens deemed inadmissible by law:


Mental defect

Communist party affiliation

Drug trafficking


Applying For US Visa – Requirements for Medical Residency

Before applying for a visa at a United States embassy or consulate, the following is required:

DOL: The U.S. employer must have foreign labour certification from the US Department of Labor, prior to filing a petition with USCIS.

USCIS: Need United States Citizenship and Immigration Services approval of a petition or application (The required petition or application depends on the visa category you want to apply for.)

SEVIS: Program approval entered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System

US Citizenship and Immigration Services

Many people want to come to the United States to work. The USCIS portal provides a summary of employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visa classifications and other categories of aliens who are eligible for employment authorization.

However, each classification provides a link to more detailed information on its requirements. So to learn more about visas and immigration at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services click on this link

Government Agencies That Sponsors Waivers for International Medical Graduates

Here are governmental agencies that have sponsored waivers for international medical graduates:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Appalachian Regional Commission
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development

State departments of public health may sponsor up to 30 J-1 physicians per year for waivers to provide care in underserved communities. So, when an international medical graduate receives a J-1 waiver and a state medical license, he or she may obtain a new work-authorized status for U.S. employment, which in most cases will be an H-1B visa or an immigrant visa.


Which countries Accept Foreign Medical graduates?

Countries Most Dependant On Foreign-Trained Doctors are Israel, New Zealand, and Australia. These three countries have the highest number of foreign-trained doctors.

Which country is best for international medical graduates?

United State of America tops the list when it comes to PG medicine colleges and universities. The eligibility criteria are MBBS degree or equivalent


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