Understanding Physicians Visas
Foreign Medical Graduate J Visas, J-Visa Waivers of Two-Year Residence Requirement, H-1B Visas and Permanent Residence
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), over 20 percent of all active physicians today are international medical graduates ("IMGs") and in some specialties are comprised of over 30 percent IMGs. An increasing number of IMGs are U.S. citizens. However, the majority are foreign national physicians for whom contending with U.S. immigration laws can be confusing.
The complexities of U.S. immigration law means each physician's case may be different. Nonetheless there are general terms and concepts IMGs and their employers should be familiar with if they want to negotiate their way through the maze of existing rules and regulations.
Basic Requirements. IMGs need the following in order to practice medicine in the United States:
1) A degree from a foreign medical school.
2) An Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certificate showing the physician has knowledge equivalent to that gained at a U.S. medical school.
To obtain an ECFMG certificate, IMGs must pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Parts 1 & 2, pass an English exam, and pass the Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA) exam.