Physicians sponsored as exchange visitors for participation in Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-accredited clinical programs or directly associated fellowship programs of graduate medical education or training are categorized as J-1 “(alien) physicians.” Training must be undertaken within an ACGME-accredited Sponsoring Institution.
ALIEN PHYSICIAN (Clinical Training Program): As defined in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations: An “alien physician is...a foreign medical graduate seeking to pursue graduate medical education or training at accredited schools or medical or scientific institutions” [22CFR62.27(a)]. The term graduate medical education is further defined as “a program in which the alien physician will receive graduate medical education or training, which generally consists of a residency or fellowship program involving health care services to patients, but does not include programs involving observation, consultation, teaching or research in which there is no or only incidental patient care. This program may consist of a medical specialty or a directly related medical subspecialty or both...” [22CFR62.2].
More information about the “physician” category is available on the U.S. Department of State website at https://j1visa.state.gov/programs/physician/ .
Review the ACGME-accredited training checklists for information on the application process and requirements.
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Non-standard training (NST) programs are advanced clinical subspecialty disciplines or paths for which Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accreditation and/or American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Member Board certification is unavailable. If ACGME accreditation is available in the subspecialty being pursued but your institution’s program is not accredited, the program does not qualify under the non-standard provision for J-1 trainees.
As of July 1, 2023, appointment profiles may only be created for applicants seeking to engage in NST programs by Sponsoring Institutions that have achieved ACGME NST Recognition . This includes a favorable recognition finding by the ACGME and submission of information on individual NST programs to the ACGME’s Accreditation Data System (ADS).
Please refer to the ACGME-accredited or Non-standard Training (NST) at an ACGME-recognized Sponsoring Institution checklists on the Application Checklists webpage for documentation requirements.
As of June 30, 2023, the process involving ABMS Member Board recognition and submission of the GMEC and Parent Program Verification Form has concluded, in accordance with current federal regulation . Institutions seeking to host J-1 physicians in NST programs must secure ACGME NST Recognition. Individuals who entered an NST program prior to July 1, 2023, under the discontinued process remain eligible to be sponsored through the conclusion of their already-approved training program.
Non-Standard Training FAQs
1. What is a “parent” program?
The “parent” program is the affiliated ACGME-accredited specialty or subspecialty for the non-standard discipline. Non-standard programs must be linked to the most closely related specialty or subspecialty (e.g., the parent program for leukemia fellowship would be hematology/oncology, not internal medicine). Non-standard training must take place at the primary clinical site for the affiliated parent program.
2. Do research programs qualify under the non-standard provision?
Non-standard fellowships are clinical training programs; physicians sponsored in the J-1 “alien physician” category cannot engage in long-term, independent research projects nor can sponsorship under the non-standard provision be extended for research programs. Similarly, the originally defined duration of the non-standard program cannot be extended for research.
3. Do academic/research tracks qualify under the non-standard provision?
Sponsorship for one additional year beyond the ACGME-accredited length of a training program may be permissible if the academic/research track was predefined as a component of the ACGME-accredited program and documented as such prior to an applicant’s entry into the accredited program. For additional information, see Eligibility Requirements for J-1 Visa Sponsorship within Academic/Research Tracks.
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ECFMG is authorized to sponsor the spouse and/or unmarried minor children of a J-1 physician for entry into the United States under J-2 visa status. A minor child is defined as one under the age of 21. A J-1 physician’s parents, siblings, extended family members, and nannies are not eligible for sponsorship as J-2 dependents.
J-2 dependents must:
J-2 dependent sponsorship can be requested:
A copy of the dependent’s passport biographic page and evidence of the family relationship (i.e., marriage, birth, or adoption certificate) with English translation, if applicable, must be uploaded in support of any dependent sponsorship request.
Please see the instructions sheet for more information on how to acquire J-2 status once Form DS-2019 has been issued by ECFMG. J-1 physicians are not required to notify ECFMG of newly arrived J-2 dependents.
J-2 dependents are eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once an EAD card is issued, the J-2 dependent is then eligible to apply for a Social Security number through the Social Security Administration. If employed, income derived from the spouse’s employment cannot be used to support the J-1 physician and/or the family.
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[Last update: November 2, 2023]