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Immigrate to the US as a Medical Graduate

2.5 minute read
"Are you a medical graduate in one of the accredited foreign medical schools (except Canada)? In the United States, international medical graduates are required to go through a unique credentialing process by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) to become licensed professionals and start their residence."
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  Aug 19, 2021
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Are you a medical graduate in one of the accredited foreign medical schools (except Canada)? In the United States, international medical graduates are required to go through a unique credentialing process by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) to become licensed professionals and start their residence. 

The US has a high need for healthcare professionals in local areas. This presents an opportunity for international medical graduates to enhance their experience and establish their lives in the US. 

What Are Some Common Pathways for US Immigration for International Medical Graduates?

There are 3 categories of visa programs for international medical graduates:

  • J-1 Exchange Visitor

  • H-1B Professional Worker

  • O-1 Extraordinary Ability

J-1 Exchange Visitor: 

If you are an international medical graduate who has been accepted into a residence program sponsored expressly by the ECFMG, then this visa program is for you. You are required to obtain an ECFMG certification with satisfactory scores on the USMLE, Step 1, Step 2 Clinical Skills and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge. 

This J-1 Visa will be valid until your residence program with a maximum limit of up to 7 years. If you received medical education as a J-1 Exchange Visitor, you will be required to return to your home country for 2 years before being eligible for an H-1B Visa or permanent residence.

H-1B Professional Worker: 

As mentioned above for the J-1 exchange visitor program, applicants to the H-1B Visa also require acceptance into a residence program sponsored by the ECFMG with certification for completing all the 3 USMLE examinations. Also, they require a training license in the state they intend to practice in. H-1B applicants are also required to have sponsorship from the hospital where they will be a resident.

This visa will only be valid for 6 years. Your employer will be required to pay $2,000 in US Worker Training Fee and Anti Fraud Fee to hire you.

O-1 Extraordinary Ability: 

This O-1 Visa program is for individuals with extraordinary ability and has achieved significant recognition in their home countries and internationally for their contributions to their fields. Medical graduates who have achieved excellence in medicine can opt for the O-1 Visa program.

Are There Alternative Pathways for International Medical Graduates?

F-1 International Student: International medical graduates who need a visa sponsorship and US citizens and permanent residents who graduated from international medical schools face a lot of difficulty in matching with a residence program in the US. To avoid this hurdle, international medical graduates can take an unusual route by enrolling in a medical school in the US. 

Several medical schools offer spots to international medical students. Graduating from an accredited US medical university will get you on par with US physicians. You can opt for the F-1 Visa. This way you can start the first year of your residence with the work authorization provided by the F-1 Visa called Optional Practical Training (OPT). This will help the opportunities for fellowships and employment in the long term.

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