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

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

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