International Medical Graduates (ECFMG)

The Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is authorized by the U.S. Department of State to sponsor visas in the J-1 Alien Physician category. International Medical Graduates (IMGs) who wish to participate in U.S. graduate medical training are required to hold this J-1 category. The ISSO serves as the Training Program Liaison (TPL) between UCSF departments and ECFMG.

If your department has selected a prospective physician to participate in a graduate medical training program, then please follow the steps below. If you have questions about the process, please contact Jing Yang at or Brian Groves at [email protected]

In order to apply, it's essential that you know the fundamental requirements of your training program (i.e. Program ID, primary sites of instruction, duration) under the programs accreditation. If you don't know this information, you should contact UCSF Graduate Medical Education or review your program accreditation information on the ACGME website.


Visa applications must be submitted to the ISSO at least 6 months prior to the prospective ECFMG start date.

Once the ISSO has submitted a visa request to ECFMG, they generally ask for 3 months to process the request and mail the DS-2019.

Application Instructions for Host Departments

  1. Review the information on the UCSF GME website (for Canadian physicians, see below).
  2. The host department compiles the required documents from the specific type of request you are submitting. See below for a checklist of the required documents.
  3. The host department completes the J-1 Visa Request Form for International Medical Graduates and uploads the required documents.
  4. ISSO reviews the request and submits the J-1 visa application to ECFMG.
  5. Once the visa application is received by ECFMG, the physician will receive an e-mail requiring completion of their application through the ECFMG physician portal (OASIS).
  6. After the physician completes their portion of the visa application in OASIS, ECFMG will review and approve the visa application and issue the J-1 DS-2019 form for the physician to apply for their visa (if outside of the US) or prepare to transfer to UCSF (if currently inside the US).
  7. Once printed, ECFMG will send the physician's DS-2019 to ISSO. Upon arrival at the ISSO, the ISSO staff will work with the department to arrange a way to get the DS-2019 to the physician. DS-2019s can be mailed to the physician or department via FedEx or they can be picked up at the ISSO in-person. It is not possible to electronically transmit the DS-2019.

Canadian Physicians

Please note that Canadian graduates of Canadian or U.S. medical schools are exempt from the ECFMG certification requirement. However, Canadian participants will still need to acquire an ECFMG account number by emailing [email protected] with the following information in order for the ISSO to submit an application for the J-1 DS-2019 needed to enter the US:

  • physician's full name
  • physician's date of birth (mm/dd/yyyy)
  • physician's e-mail address
  • name and country of physician's medical school
  • physician's gender

Required Documents for ECFMG Visa Applications

The documents required for an ECFMG visa application depend on whether the physician is currently participating in a clinical training program in the US (a continuatiuon request) or not currently participating in a clinical training program (an initial request).

Determining the Correct Request Type

Initial Requests: the physician is not currently in a J-1 ECFMG training program. In general, these physicians are currently abroad but, in some cases, they may already be in the US in another visa status.

For example, some postdocs at UCSF are currently researching in the US in J-1 visa status then they decide to join a clinical training program. Even though they are currently in the US in J-1 visa status, since they are not currently in a clinical training program, their ECFMG request will be considered an “initial” request.

Continuation Request: the physician is currently in a J-1 ECFMG training program, either at UCSF or another institution and will be continuing training at UCSF.

For example, a physician is current at Boston Children’s hospital and completing their third year of residency. They would like to come to UCSF to begin a fellowship in the pediatrics department. In this case, they would be considered a “continuation” request.

UCSF Department Document Checklist

Before submitting a visa request for a physician to the ISSO, please ensure you have the required documents for the type of request you are submitting. The ISSO visa application will require all documents to be uploaded before your request can be submitted for processing.

Documents Initial Requests Continuation Requests
Passport Biographical Page X X
UCSF Contract/Offer Letter X X
C.V. X  
Form I-644   X
Current I-94   X

For more details on any of the items in the table above, including templates and additional instructions, please visit the ECFMG Application Checklist webpage to download a more descriptive checklist.