Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program (EVSP)

Applying for Sponsorship

ECFMG Sponsorship Types

Research Scholar

The category of “research scholar” is specifically defined in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

RESEARCH SCHOLAR (Non-clinical Program): A “research scholar is…an individual primarily conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project…” [22CFR62.4(f)].

ECFMG sponsors J-1 exchange visitors in the research scholar category for up to five years of full-time participation in non-clinical programs consisting of observation, consultation, teaching, or research. Unlike those sponsored in the J-1 “alien physician” category for clinical training, research scholar participants generally are not required to pass U.S. medical licensing exams and are not required to be ECFMG certified. As such, J-1 research scholars are limited to activities involving no patient contact or incidental patient contact.

ECFMG is the only agency authorized to sponsor alien physicians for J-1 status; however, many U.S. hospitals and training institutions are designated by the U.S. Department of State (DoS) to sponsor J-1 research scholars. ECFMG, therefore, only provides research sponsorship to those physicians participating in programs at hospitals or institutions that do not have their own J-1 research designation.

J-1 research scholars may or may not be subject to the two-year home-country physical presence (foreign residence) requirement. Generally, J-1 research scholars are subject to §212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, when either of the following applies:

There is currently no provision for a J-1 physician who has participated in any clinical training under ECFMG sponsorship to request a change of category to the J-1 research scholar category. However, a change in category from research scholar to alien physician is possible under certain circumstances. Find the requirements for a change of category request and more information at https://www.ecfmg.org/evsp/evspcocmemo.pdf.

Review the research scholar checklists for information on the application process and requirements.

More information about the research scholar category is available on the DoS website at https://j1visa.state.gov/programs/research-scholar.

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