International Medical Graduates

The University of Minnesota welcomes International Medical Graduates (IMGs) to GME residencies and fellowships. On this webpage you will find information on IMG Eligibility, IMG Support & University of MN Social Group, ECFMG Certification, J-1 | J-2 Eligibility, J-1 | J-2 Application Process, J-1 | J-2 Application Timeline, J-1 | J-2 International Travel Requirements, & H1-B Visas.

International Medical Graduate (IMG) Definition

An International Medical Graduate (IMG) is a physician who received their basic medical degree or qualification from a medical school located outside the United States and Canada. The location of the medical school, not the citizenship of the physician, determines whether the graduate is an IMG. This means that U.S. citizens who graduated from medical schools outside the United States and Canada are considered IMGs.

IMG Eligibility & ECFMG Certification

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IMG Eligibility & ECFMG Certification


Per the Eligibility and Selection of Residents/Fellows Policy, to qualify for a residency/fellowship at the University of Minnesota, International Medical Graduates (IMGs) must meet all criteria found in the policy and provide documentation of one of the following:

  1. currently valid certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)or
  2. An unrestricted license to practice medicine in a U.S. state, or
  3. Successful completion of a Fifth Pathway Program in an LCME-accredited medical school in the United States.

ECFMG Certification

Any incoming resident or fellow who is an International Medical Graduate (IMG) must be ECFMG Certified prior to beginning in their training program, per the Institution Policy on Eligibility and Selection of Residents/Fellows.

IMGs MUST have their ECFMG Certificate before beginning work in a residency or fellowship program.  Medical students who are concerned about timing should work with their medical schools to request timely verification.  Some medical students have requested and been granted early diplomas by their medical schools, which helps expedite the process.

For more information about ECFMG Certification view the ECFMG Certification Webpage

Canadian & Puerto Rican Graduates

Graduates of medical schools in the United States (including Puerto Rico) and Canada are not considered IMGs and therefore are not required to obtain ECFMG Certification.  An ECFMG Identification Number is issued to graduates of Canadian medical schools only for purposes of Exchange Visitor Sponsorship (J-1 visa).

Visas (J-1 Alien Physician | H1-B Employment Visa)

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Visas (J-1 Alien Physician | H1-B Employment Visa)

J-1 Visa Application Process | Application timeframes

J-1 Application Process

The University of Minnesota's ECFMG Training Program Liaisons (TPLs) will guide you through the J-1 visa application process via email and a detailed checklist.

Your J-1 application process starts when your program notifies the UMN TPL that you will be joining or continuing in the program for the coming academic year.  After the program has confirmed you, the application process proceeds through these steps:

  1. The TPL will contact you (via email from with instructions and a link to the appropriate application checklist. More information on checklist material can be found on the ECFMG website.
  2. The applicant will collect the documents and information outlined in the checklist and submit them to the TPL (via email to
  3. Once ALL application documents are received, the TPL will initiate your online application in ECFMG's EVNet system, upload the supporting documents, and notify you by email of your next steps.  Read more about ECFMG's online application system here.
  4. The applicant will log into their OASIS account to review their online application.  The applicant will complete all remaining required information and pay the administrative/application fee.  The application cannot proceed until the applicant complete their online portion in OASIS.
  5. ECFMG will review the application, working through the TPL to address any questions or gather any additional documents needed from the applicant.
  6. Once ECFMG has approved the application, they will create a DS-2019 and mail it directly to the TPL.
  7. The TPL will notify the applicant via email that the DS-2019 has arrived and outline your next steps to receive it.

J-1 Application Timeframes

The earliest ECFMG can issue your DS-2019 is six months prior to your start date.  In October, the TPL will email all continuing and known new UMN J-1 trainees to share application instructions (see Step 1 above).  New residents matching via the national Match Day in March will receive their instructions via email during the first week in April.

If you have a J-2 spouse dependent who is working, it is very important that you submit your J-1 and J-2 dependent application to the TPL as soon as possible.  Please note that for those J-2 dependents who need an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card, the renewal process for the EAD card is lengthy and can take up to 6 months.

Average J-1 application processing times

Standard applications (for ACGME-accredited programs):

  • 4-6 weeks (during the busy season--March, April, May, June, July)
  • 2-4 weeks (during the non-busy season)

Non-standard applications (for non-accredited programs and any applications requiring Department of State review):

  • 6+ weeks (during the busy season--March, April, May, June, July)
  • 4-6 weeks (during the non-busy season)

Please submit your application materials early to avoid processing delays!

J-1 | J-2 International Travel & Travel Validation on DS-2019

ECFMG strongly discourages international travel unless absolutely necessary.

World events of the last few years have introduced changes that have a direct effect on international travel for foreign nationals. Security and background checks, along with other security-based initiatives have, in some cases, caused delays in visa issuance at U.S. consulates. These delays have in turn compromised physicians’ return to the United States in a timely fashion. 

If travel is absolutely necessary, it is important that, prior to any departure from the United States, ECFMG-sponsored physicians are aware of the documents they and their dependents must have in order to reenter the United States in J-1 or J-2 status.

The following sections provide basic information on some of the more popular travel-related questions asked by J-1 holders and program coordinators. 

View more detailed information on international travel on the ECFMC website. The preparation for International Travel dropdown will outline all of the appropriate documents you will need to be readmitted in the US in J-1 status.

Canadian Citizens 

Canadian citizens do not require a J-1 visa stamp in their passport. It is easy for customs to assume that you are traveling to the US as a visitor. If you travel to Canada from Minnesota over the border, or at the airport, ensure that your I-94 states J-1 status and not a visitor status. J-1 status allows the University of Minnesota to employ and pay you.

Travel Validation on DS-2019 Form

Ensure that the travel signature and date on your Form DS-2019 on the bottom right hand corner is valid. The date is good for one year once signed by the Responsible Officer at ECFMG (Ex. Signed 5/24/2023- Good until 5/23/2024).

If your travel date has expired or will expire when you are abroad, you must request a duplicate DS-2019 form. Please allow 30 days for this request to be processed.

  • Fill out the Request for Duplicate DS-2019
  • Send the filled out form to the TPL at
  • The TPL will sign and upload the document to your OASIS Appointment Profile for ECFMG review
  • Once reviewed ECFMG will send the DS-2019 form with travel validation signature to the TPL
  • The TPL will notify you once it arrives and where to pick it up

J-1 Eligibility

The J-1 alien physician visa is sponsored by the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) and is the preferred visa of University of Minnesota Medical School residencies and fellowships. 

Please check the program manual of the program you are interested in to verify if J-1 visa sponsorship is allowed in your program. 


International Medical Graduates (IMGs) and non-IMGs (i.e. graduates of LCME-Accredited U.S. or Canadian Medical Schools) who require visa sponsorship may be eligible for J-1 visa sponsorship.  For more information, please see the UMN-GME Institution Visa Sponsorship Policy and the UME GME Eligiblity and Selection Policy.

Note: All IMG J-1 Applicants must be ECFMG-certified before applying for J-1 visa sponsorship.


H1-B Employment Visa

The J-1 alien physician visa is the preferred visa of University of Minnesota Medical School residencies and fellowships.  As an institution, the University of Minnesota also allows for residents and fellows to be sponsored on H-1B visas.  However, each program determines whether H-1B visas are appropriate for their program.

When interviewing, applicants should use the GME Visa Sponsorship - Applicant Information form as part of their conversation with the program regarding visa sponsorship needs.  Not all programs offer H-1B visas, so it is important to discuss your visa needs openly and early so you and the program can plan appropriately.

Review our Visa Sponsorship Policy for further information about H-1B requirements.


IMG Co Leads

IMG Social Group | Resources

The IMG Social Group is made of IMGs (international medical graduates) residents/fellows/medical students/residency applicants who want to support IMG healthcare professionals orient themselves in the new US environment and integrate them in their new role at the University of Minnesota (UofM).

  • The IMG Social Group provides content for the IMG Resource Google Site. Questions you may have on how to connect with the group via Whatsapp, DEI initiatives in your program, J-1 specific information, travel information, moving to Minnesota, all can be found on this site.
  • Template for Rounding - This template was created by a UMN IMG trainee and offered for use by other IMGs: "Could help organize your thoughts and can guide you about what you should know about the patient."

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International Medical Graduate (IMG) Orientation

Each summer the GME office holds a special IMG Orientation Session for all incoming residents and fellows who are IMGs, new to the University of Minnesota, and also new to the US Medical System. 

University of Minnesota IMG Social Group

The IMG Social Group is made of IMGs (international medical graduates) residents/fellows/medical students/residency applicants who want to support IMG healthcare professionals orient themselves in the new US environment and integrate them in their new role at the University of Minnesota (UofM).

Template for Rounding - This template was created by a UMN IMG trainee and offered for use by other IMGs: "Maybe it will help them to organize their thoughts and will also guide them about what they should know about the patient."

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)

The ISSS website contains a wealth of information to support international students throughout their time at the University, including:



J-1 Visa questions: 
Contact Christy Illig via email at

Orientation session for IMGs (International Medical Graduates) questions: 
Contact Christy Illig at

Application questions:
Contact the individual program to which you plan to apply for information about eligibility and their application process.