Non-Us International Medical Graduates

Non-US International Medical Graduates (Non-US IMGs)

Non-US International Medical Graduates are medical students who are citizens of countries outside of the US and attended medical schools outside of the US. An example of this is someone who attends medical school in their home country and decides to pursue residency training in the US.

Non-US IMGs by the Numbers

General Facts and Statistics

  • Average USMLE Scores for Matched Non-US IMGs

    • USMLE Step 1: 234
    • USMLE Step 2 CK: 240
  • Match Rate: 56.1%

  • More Non-US IMGs reported having a Ph.D. than US IMGs

  • Non-US IMGs averaged 2.5 research experiences, with 69.0% reporting at least one research experience

  • Non-US IMGs reported an average of 6.2 publications per applicant, 65% reported at least one publication

  • Non-US IMGs averaged 5.7 work experience, 85.2% reported at least one work experience

  • Non-US IMGs averaged 3.6 volunteer experiences, 79.1% reported at least one volunteer experience

Match 2017 Statistics

Top 5 Most Non-US IMG Friendly Specialties

Specialty # of Non-US IMGs
Internal Medicine (Categorical) 2,076
Family Medicine 330
Pediatrics (Categorical) 315
Pathology 185
Neurology (categorical, advanced, and physician positions) 175

Most US IMG Friendly States

New York

Benefits and Challenges of Being a Non-US IMG


  • Often comes with lots of diverse experience

  • Much more flexible

  • Has more language proficiencies

  • Typically has more interesting information to put in the Personal Statement


  • Visas with their many rules and stipulations

  • Lower Match rate than US IMGs

  • Higher USMLE score expectations

  • Requires US Clinical Experience

  • May be more difficult to acquire application documents

IMGs and Visa Sponsorship

If you are planning on obtaining a US medical residency position and are not a US citizen, or do not have a Green Card, Permanent Residency, or an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), you will need to learn about your visa options. There are two main visas non-US International Medical Graduates (IMGs) can access in order to train in the US.

J-1 Visa

General Information:

  • The J-1 visa is easier to obtain
  • Sponsored and regulated by ECFMG® only
  • A temporary, non-immigrant visa given for an educational training
  • Heavily regulated by the Department of State and ECFMG
  • Limited to duration of training (Maximum is 7 years)

ECFMG Requirements:

  • Must fill out Form DS-2019
  • Maintaining a valid passport
  • Securing and maintaining required health and accident insurance
  • Reporting any address changes within 10 days to ECFMG through ECFMG’s On-line Applicant Status and Information System (OASIS) or the MyECFMG mobile app
  • Engaging in full-time training at the host institution identified (GME Contract or Offer Letter required)
  • Notifying ECFMG of any proposed changes to his/her training plan (e.g., training levels, training dates, resignation, etc.)
  • Adhering to all U.S. laws
  • “Statement of Need” from Ministry of Health in the country of most recent legal permanent residence

H1-B Visa

General Information:

  • Must be sponsored by willing residency programs
  • A temporary work visa
  • Much harder to obtain than a J-1 visa
  • Limited to three years with a three year extension possible (Maximum is 6 years)


  • Medical Residency offer from a program that sponsors H1-B visas
  • Graduation from medical school (Copy of medical diploma required)
  • ECFMG Certification (Copy of ECFMG Certificate required)
  • USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK, USMLE Step 2 CS, and USMLE Step 3 taken and scores reported (Copy of USMLE transcript required)
  • State Medical License or other authorization to practice medicine in the State of intended employment (if such license/authorization is required by the State)
  • Valid passport

J-1 vs. H1-B

J-1 H1-B
Requires 2-year home residency after training Yes No
Requires ECFMG Certification Yes Yes
Requires USMLE Step 3 No Yes
Sponsored by ECFMG Yes No
Sponsored by programs No Yes

Visas and Program Requirements

Visas are a large residency application factor for Non-US International Medical Graduates (IMGs). Non-US IMGs are responsible for researching individual medical residency programs they intend to apply to for the program’s visa policies.

For example, some residency programs may:

  • Accept J-1 visas only
  • Sponsor H1-B visas only
  • Accept J-1 visas and sponsor H1-B visas
  • Do not accept J-1 visas nor sponsor H1-B visas

Researching residency programs and their visa policies properly will help Non-US IMGs conserve their resources and increase their chances of finding the right residency program. But, you do not have to go it alone. Match A Resident’s Customized Lists have individualized visa filters to help Non-US IMGs find residency programs, no matter your visa needs.

Tips for Non-US IMGs

The path to success for Non-US International Medical Graduates (Non-US IMGs) may have more twists and turns than a US medical graduate (USMG), but there are tricks Non-US IMGs can incorporate into their residency application efforts to make a greater impact on their chances.

  • Educate yourself. The residency application process comes with endless procedures and time sensitive activities. The more you learn about the overall residency process, the easier your journey will be and the less chance you have of missing something crucial.

  • Start early. Applications may not open until early September, but do not underestimate how long it takes to gather all of the ERAS Application components. There are transcripts, documents, writing and program research to accomplish. Start in May or June to give yourself enough time. An incomplete or rushed application does not look good to Program Directors.

  • Get US Clinical Experience (USCE). USCE is defined as hands on work with patients in a US medical environment. Typically this takes the form of Externships, Clerkship, and any clinical rotations you complete in the US. USCE can get you US-based Letters of Recommendation, and many programs require USCE. It is an incredible boost to your ERAS Application.

  • Research Programs Carefully and apply broadly. NRMP data supports that successful IMG candidates apply to, interview in and rank 2-3 medical specialties. Pick your specialties realistically and research each program meticulously. Each program has a unique set of requirements and you do not want to waste your time and money on incompatible program selections.