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Visa Sponsorship Information

J-1 Exchange Visitor Physician Sponsorship Through ECFMG  

  • For physicians requiring sponsorship, J-1 physician sponsorship offered through the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is the preferred sponsorship option for physician trainees entering ACGME-accredited training programs at UMass Chan Medical School. ECFMG is designated by the U.S. Department of State as a BridgeUSA sponsor for J-1 exchange visitor physicians enrolled in accredited programs of graduate medical education or training. ECFMG is the sole sponsor of J-1 physicians in clinical training programs in the United States. See www.ecfmg.org/evsp.
  • ECFMG sponsorship MAY be available for certain non-accredited fellowship programs where billing for services is not required. Applicants should check with the individual training program to confirm if J-1 sponsorship is an option.
  • All J-1 exchange visitor physicians are subject to a MANDATORY two-year foreign residency requirement (Section 212(e)), at the completion of their graduate medical education training.
  • The Immigration Services Office acts as the Training Program Liaison (TPL) on behalf of UMass Chan Medical School’s Graduate Medical Education training programs and will assist programs and physician trainees with the sponsorship application process. Additional information about the sponsorship application process as well as information about J-1 sponsorship regulations can be located on ECFMG’s Applying for Sponsorship website.
  • ECFMG J-1 visa sponsorship authorizes a specific training activity, location, and associated financial compensation. Federal regulations do not permit any additional activity or compensation outside of the defined parameters of the approved program. Unauthorized employment, or “moonlighting,” is prohibited.

F-1 Student Status (Optional Practical Training)

  • U.S. Medical School students who will complete an MD or DO program while in F-1 student status are eligible to begin the first year of their residency training using their initial 12 months of F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT).  This does not include students who are completing a PhD, MPH or other educational programs in the U.S., including intensive language or test-preparation courses such as Kaplan.  Students must receive their Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for OPT, prior to the start of clinical training, thus it is recommended to apply for OPT as early as possible.
  • UMCMS does not support STEM OPT for clinical training programs, therefore UMass CHan Medical School will support clinical H1B sponsorship for US Medical School graduates starting at the end of their 12 months of OPT.  The process to convert the F-1 student to H1B sponsorship will begin typically towards the end of the PGY 1 year (generally in March). 

H-1B Sponsorship

In limited circumstances, UMCMS will provide H-1B sponsorship for clinical training. Those circumstances include:

  1. UMass Chan Medical School may transfer a physician’s clinical H-1B sponsorship from another U.S. clinical residency or fellowship program if there is sufficient time left to complete the UMass Chan training program to which the resident or fellow has applied. This does NOT include applicants currently holding H1B status for research or other non-clinical employment. Note that there is a 6-year H1B sponsorship limit with limited extensions for certain individuals in the process of applying for employment-based permanent residency.
  2. UMass Chan will support clinical H1B sponsorship for US Medical School graduates (MD or DO programs only) to continue their clinical training at the end of their 12 months of OPT.

All other requests for initial clinical H-1B sponsorship must be reviewed by the GME Visa Committee on a case by case basis. Applicants and programs must demonstrate why their situation warrants an exception to the sponsorship policy. Exceptions are rarely granted. Programs requesting exceptions for their applicant must ensure that the applicant meets the following conditions before bringing their case to the GME Visa Committee:

  • Applicant must be eligible for a Massachusetts Medical License
  • Graduates of Medical Schools outside of the U.S. must PASS USMLE Steps 1, 2 AND 3. and have ECFMG Certification (Canadian Medical School Graduates are not exempt from this requirement)
  • If applicant holds non-clinical H1B status, applicant must have sufficient time remaining in H1B status to complete their proposed training
  • Applicant must have previous US clinical experience  
    Recent clinical experience (within the past 12 months) in another country may be considered in lieu of US experience.

Please be aware that processing timelines for H1B sponsorship can be tight. Before UMMS is able to submit an H1B employment sponsorship petition to USCIS for a trainee, the trainee MUST meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a Massachusetts Medical License which will be valid on 1st day of proposed training
  • Graduates of Medical Schools outside of the U.S. must PASS USMLE Steps 1, 2 AND 3. and have ECFMG Certification (Canadian Medical School Graduates are not exempt from this requirement)
  • Be approved by the GME Visa Committee, if they do not meet one of 2 standard sponsorship criteria outlined above

Permanent Residency Sponsorship

UMass Chan is not able to offer permanent residency sponsorship for our clinical training positions.