In order to participate in any professional engagement (externship, research, residency, etc.) an FMG should inquire about their eligibility for the above mentioned tenure(s) and for a specific visa that would permit them to participate in training for the purpose of becoming a licensed physician in order to provide medical services in U.S.

Our team includes top immigration professionals with over four decades of experience to help provide visa assistance to FMGs. After carefully assessing a candidate’s situation, our team helps you obtain H1-B, TN, Green Card, EB-1, J-1, and many other specialized visas. We have provided this service to candidates from countries such as India, Thailand, China, Bulgaria, Russia, Germany, Egypt, Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico, Iran, Iraq, Canada, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E. and many more.

Our experts will advise each student on what type of visa best fits their situation, as well as outline all the requirements foreign medical students or graduates have to meet in order to successfully apply and receive visas. More details about each visa can be found below:

J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa and ECFMG Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program

A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued to research scholars, professors and exchange visitors participating in medical training programs within the U.S.

J-1 visa is the most common visa type used by foreign and international medical graduates to participate in U.S. GME programs. The Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) sponsors foreign national physicians for the J-1 visa. Find more information here: ECFMG Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program.

J-1 application requirements:

  • High proficiency in the English language
  • USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK
  • Standard ECFMG Certificate
  • Official letter of acceptance from a GME program affiliated with a medical school
  • Statement of need from the Ministry of Health of the country of residence (LPR) (each country has different rules, call to inquire)

Returning to the Home Country for Two Years

Foreign and international medical graduates must return to their home country for two consecutive years after completion of their training. This period of time is reserved for the purpose of transferring the knowledge they gained in the U.S.


If a foreign and international medical graduate is offered an opportunity that requires a different type of US visa, an individual must obtain a waiver of this 2-year obligation.  After such waver is granted, the candidate’s visa status could be adjusted to H-1B (temporary worker); TN or US permanent resident. Waiver of the two-year requirement is possible only:

  1. If the applicant can prove that he/she may suffer from persecution upon return to his/her home country of legal permanent residence;
  2. If fulfillment of the two-year obligation could cause proven hardship to the applicant’s family (spouse and/or children) whose status is either U.S. citizenship or permanent residency;
  3. If the applicant is sponsored by a certain governmental agency interested in the applicants continued employment in the U.S.

Temporary Worker H-1B

The H-1B visa can be obtained by the employer for their temporary workers in specialty occupations with professional-level degrees for up to six years. H-1B visa does not require a two-year home residence, as does the J-1. H-1B visa provides employment authorization for a specific employer only. The GME program, not prospective trainees (IMGs), must file an H-1B petition on their behalf. To be eligible for an H-1B, the following is required:

  • A full, unrestricted state medical license, the appropriate authorization for the position
  • An MD or full unrestricted foreign medical license
    English language proficiency confirmed by passing the ECFMG English language examination
  • Passage of the USMLE Steps 1, 2 and 3
  • Prearranged job, either temporary or permanent, in a professional field

Once H-1B is issued, it will be valid for a period of three years, with the possibility of extension for a second three-year period. After the 6-year total expires, an FMG is required to return to his/her home country for one year with an opportunity to re-enter the U.S. in an H or L visa category.

Dependent H-4 Visa

An H-4 visa can be issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to the immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the H-1B visa holders. H-4 Visa is the dependent Visa for H1-B. H-4 Visa holders can work in the U.S., but it is a non-immigrant visa which doesn’t provide a work permit unless the H1-B spouse’s Green Card process has already started.

Disclaimer:  Residents Medical has gathered this information from reputable sources.  Residents Medical is not responsible for the accuracy of this information, as immigration law is ever evolving.  For a detailed assessment, contact us.


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