GME VISA INFO

J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa  

  • The preferred Visa option for non-US Citizens is the J-1 Visa sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).  IMGs who seek to obtain this type of visa must first apply to the ECFMG for certification.  ECFMG offers the USMLE exams and is the sponsoring organization providing assurance to residency programs that the candidates meet defined qualifications equivalent of a U.S. medical degree.  See www.ecfmg.org.
  • The  ECFMG will issue the visa document (DS-2019) after the institution submits the individual’s application to ECFMG. 
  • There is a MANDATORY two-year foreign residency requirement (Section 212(e) for all IMGs attending graduate medical education programs in the U.S. on a J-1 visa at the completion of training
  • The primary objective of each ECFMG-sponsored Exchange Visitor is to receive graduate medical training in the United States which will ultimately enhance his/her skills in a specialty field of medicine. Visa sponsorship, which is documented by Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for J-1 Exchange Visitor Status) and issued by ECFMG, authorizes a specific training activity and associated financial compensation. Federal regulations do not permit activity and/or financial compensation outside of the defined parameters of the training program. Therefore, employment outside of approved residency or fellowship training (e.g. MOONLIGHTING) IS NOT PERMITTED. 

F-1 Visa Status (the Student Visa)

  • U.S. Medical School Graduates on an F-1 visa are eligible for Residency and Fellowship Training at UMass. (Applicants on F-1 visas in PhD, MPH or other educational programs including test-preparation courses such as Stanley Kaplan are not eligible).  Students are allowed to remain on the F-1 visa but must have an Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card) prior to start of training. 
  •   THE F1 STUDENT SHOULD APPLY FOR THE EAD CARD 90 DAYS PRIOR TO GRADUATION!  They must change to another type of visa (H1B) during the first year, preferably beginning the process after 6 months. 

H-1B Visa:

  •  UMass may transfer an existing H-1B visa from another U.S. clinical residency or fellowship program if there is sufficient time left to complete the UMMS training program to which the resident has applied.   This does NOT include applicants currently holding an H1B visa for research or other non-clinical employment.
  • UMass will sponsor an H1B visa following an F1 OPT year for international citizens who attended a U.S. MEDICAL SCHOOL (not PhD or other graduate program) on an F1 visa. 
  • UMass supports an initial H-1B clinical visa for residency or fellowship in very limited and rare circumstances; the applicant file must be reviewed by both Graduate Medical Education, the Immigration Services Office, and receive approval by the GME Visa Committee in order to be eligible.  

In order to be considered for an H1, the applicant MUST meet the following requirements:
Be eligible for Massachusetts License

  • Have PASSED USMLE Steps 1, 2 AND 3.
  • Have ECFMG Certifiation
  • Have sufficient time remaining on a current H-visa to complete their training
  • Have previous US clinical experience.  Recent clinical experience (within the past 12 months) in another country may be considered in lieu of US experience.