Residency

International medical graduates and U.S. GME training programs

Residency Program Insider, March 11, 2008

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In today's world, obtaining a visa for GME training in the United States isn't as easy as it once was. Since 9/11, the U.S. government looks much more closely at who is requesting Visas and why. As a result, international medical graduates (IMGs) and their sponsoring institutions need to be aware of the processes and policies for accepting trainees on Visas into U.S. GME programs.

The first question that you need to ask when an IMG applies to your GME training program is, "Does the applicant have Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certification?" If the answer is no, you need to direct the applicant to that organization immediately. An IMG must have ECFMG certification to enter into an ACGME-accredited program.

If the applicant does have ECFMG certification, the next step is to ask the applicant if he or she currently holds a Visa, and if so, which type of Visa. (There are several visa types that IMG's can use for training purposes.)

You also need to make sure your institution accepts the particular Visa that your applicant has. In most cases, your institution will have an international affairs department, or a policy that states the requirements for acceptance of IMGs, or both. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be clear on the IMG applicant's Visa type. The two most common types of Visas used by IMGs, the J-1 and the H1B, have limits to the years that the Visa's are valid, so it is crucial you determine whether the applicant has been training in the United States and, if so, for how long.

There are several other differences between the J-1 and H1B Visas that the sponsoring institution and program need to be aware of. If you are unclear as to the status of the applicant or have questions concerning Visa status, processes, timelines, etc., you can contact the ECFMG directly for guidance.

Best,
Jennifer Reemtsma, M.Ed.
Manager, Graduate Medical Education
Children's Medical Center of Dallas



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