J-1 visas allow research scholars and other professionals from abroad to travel to the United States for cultural exchange and training programs through the Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program. If you’re interested in visiting the U.S. to participate in medical training as an international medical graduate, here’s everything you need to know about obtaining a J-1 visa.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements?
Those who wish to travel to the U.S. for medical training as part of the Alien Physician Program must display competency in both oral and written English; pass the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Exam, the Foreign Medical Graduate Exam, or the Visa Qualifying Examination from the NBME; provide a statement of need for this training from their home country; and be accepted for graduate medical education by a U.S. accredited medical school, hospital, or scientific institution.
How Do I Apply for a J-1 Visa?
First, you must obtain sponsorship from an approved program; your sponsor will supply you with Form DS-2019, which you can then use to apply for a J-1 visa at your home country’s local U.S. embassy or consulate. As wait times vary from country to country, it’s important to apply for the visa as soon as possible once you’ve been accepted to a sponsoring program.
How Long Can I Stay in the U.S.?
Once you’ve received your visa, you may enter the U.S. within 30 days of the start of your sponsoring program, and you can remain through the conclusion of the program and for 30 days thereafter.
Can My Family Travel With Me?
In most cases, the family of a person approved for a J-1 visa can either apply for J-2 visas for entry to the U.S. as exchange visitors, or they can join you after you are already in the U.S. if your sponsoring program allows for an accompanying spouse and dependents.
If you’re considering graduate medical education in the U.S., consult with the residency programs you’re interested in applying to about the availability of J-1 visas for foreign physicians. For more guidance on applying to these programs, check out this resource covering the timeline and application tips.