The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is the only institution approved by the US Department of State to sponsor international medical graduates to enter the US on J-1 exchange visitor visas in the "Alien Physician" category to participate in clinical training for residencies and fellowships. UAB’s ECFMG Training Program Liaisons (TPLs) work very closely with UAB’s Office of Graduate Medical Education to facilitate the J-1 onboarding process. ALL requirements are dictated by ECFMG. We cannot change the timing, order, or requirements. ISSS serves only as the liaison between ECFMG, the incoming exchange visitor physician, GME, and the UAB department/Program Coordinator.

J-1 residents and fellows have J-1 immigration status pursuant to a Form DS-2019 just like J-1 Research Scholars—they are just in a different J-1 category that allows for clinical contact during graduate medical education. There are many steps involved in obtaining a Form DS-2019, and all of them are controlled by ECFMG. Unlike for J-1 Research Scholars, ISSS does not generate Form DS-2019 for J-1 residents and fellows: only ECFMG can do this. Everything is dependent on ECFMG.

  • Initial J-1 Application

    The physicians that are not in the US yet need to submit an initial application. The general process is as below:

    • UAB Department/Program initiates contact with ISSS to inform us of incoming international physicians.
    • Depending on each individual situation, the Program and the physician will provide the required documents – see the table below to access the checklist that fits each specific situation.
    • ISSS reviews the documents provided.
    • ISSS creates an online Appointment Profile on UAB’s TPL portal (EVNet) and uploads supporting documents.
    • ECFMG emails physicians to complete their part of application online and pay administrative fees through their portal (OASIS).
    • After the application is completed and the fees paid, ECFMG issues the Form DS-2019 within 4-6 weeks.
    • ECFMG sends the DS-2019 to ISSS (the DS-2019 is the form the physician must present at a US consulate to obtain a J-1 visa).
    • ISSS contacts physician to collect the DS-2019 (or mails the DS-2019 to the physician, if the physician is outside the US).

    Things to remember:

    • Inform ISSS if the program is ACGME accredited or not;
    • Inform ISSS if the physician will be paid by both HSF and UAB;
    • The contract or offer letter must list the following information:
      • Exact title of the fellowship
      • Start and end dates – ECFMG review the application on a yearly basis
      • PGY level
      • Salary – if the physician will be paid by both UAB and HSF, the repartition between the 2 institution must be listed
  • Continued J-1 Application

    Physicians that are already sponsored by ECFMG (even if they are coming from another institution in the US) are considered to continue their training. The process is pretty similar to the initial process.

    Please note that ISSS Office is able to start the extension process before the new salaries for the upcoming year are published. However, it is always best practice to wait for the new salaries to be released by the GME Office. If the Physician requires an early extension, please be aware that ECFMG will not issue the new DS-2109 more than 6 months before the end of the current one (example – if the current DS-2019 expires on June 30, 2019, the new extended DS-2019 will not be issued before January 1, 2020).

  • Chart for ECFMG Documents Checklist
    Program Type Application Type When to Use Checklist
    ACGME - accredited Clinical Training Program   Initial ECFMG sponsorship Applicant is not currently sponsored by ECFMG and seeks to engage in an ACGME-accredited training program. View Checklist
    Continuation of ECFMG sponsorship Applicant is currently sponsored by ECFMG and seeks to engage in an ACGME-accredited training program. View Checklist
    Non-Standard Clinical Training Program
    NOTE – UAB and ECFMG must confirm that the Program can be sponsored by ECFMG  
    Initial ECFMG sponsorship Applicant is not currently sponsored by ECFMG and seeks to engage in a “non-standard” training program. View Checklist
    Continuation of ECFMG sponsorship Applicant is currently sponsored by ECFMG and seeks to engage in a “non-standard” training program. View Checklist
    ACGME - accredited or Non-Standard Clinical Training Program Request for a Change of J-1 Visa Category Applicant is currently in the US as a “J1 Research Scholar” and seeks to engage in a clinical training program.
    Also applies if the applicant’s research program was completed within 6 months before the clinical training program start date.
    View Checklist
    Board Exam Continuation of ECFMG sponsorship to sit for an ABMS member board examination Applicant is currently sponsored by ECFMG and seeks an extension of sponsorship to sit for an ABMS member board exam. View Checklist