Eligibility & Requirements
To apply for ECFMG certification, you must be an international medical student or graduate. This means that your medical school is located outside of the United States and Canada. U.S. citizens who graduate from such schools are considered IMGs and are eligible to apply for ECFMG certification. Non-U.S. citizens who graduate from schools in the United States and Canada are not considered IMGs and are not eligible for ECFMG certification.
Additionally, your medical school must also be listed in the International Medical Education Directory (IMED) of the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER®). If you are a medical school graduate, your graduation year must be included in your school's IMED listing. If you are a student, the "Graduation Years" in IMED for your medical school must be listed as "Current." You can access IMED on this website.
To be eligible for certification. you must graduate from a medical school that meets the requirements described above, and fulfill the following additional medical education credential requirements:
- You must have had at least four credit years (academic years for which credit has been given toward completion of the medical curriculum) at a medical school listed in IMED.
Applicants for ECFMG certification must also pass the following exams:
- USMLE Step 1 and Step 2. Applicants register for these exams with ECFMG and take these exams worldwide at test centers of Prometric®, part of the Thomson Corporation. These are the same exams taken by graduates of U.S. and Canadian medical schools. More information and sample test materials for the USMLE are available on the USMLE website .
Refer to the websites indicated for information on exam eligibility, fees, application, scheduling, and preparation.
Applying for ECFMG Certification
The certification process begins when you send your first exam application to ECFMG. Before applying for examination, you must read the appropriate edition of the ECFMG Information Booklet. Before applying for USMLE Step 1 or Step 2, you must also read the appropriate edition of the USMLE Bulletin of Information. Both publications are available on this website. You can apply for USMLE Step 1/Step 2 and the CSA online. or you can download paper application materials. Detailed instructions accompany each application.
Both medical school students and graduates can begin the certification process. You can apply for the required exams as soon as you meet the exam eligibility requirements. All of the required exams are offered continuously throughout the year. However, since one of the
requirements for ECFMG certification is verification of your medical diploma with your medical school, you cannot complete the process until you graduate and receive your medical diploma.
There is no time limit for completing the certification process. However, there are specific time requirements for completing certain exams for ECFMG certification, entry into graduate medical education programs and medical licensure. These requirements are described in the ECFMG Information Booklet and USMLE Bulletin of Information .
The academic year for U.S. graduate medical education programs typically begins in July. You must be certified by ECFMG before your program's start date, although you can apply to programs before becoming certified. In planning the timing of your exam application and scheduling, you should also consider deadlines imposed by the programs to which you plan to apply, the National Resident Matching Program, and the Electronic Residency Application Service. See Applying to Graduate Medical Education Programs.
Applying to Graduate Medical Education Programs
The Graduate Medical Education Directory. published by the American Medical Association (AMA), is recognized as the official list of ACGME-accredited graduate medical education programs. For each medical specialty, the Directory provides general and special requirements and specific information on each program in that specialty. You can order the Directory on the AMA website. Application deadlines vary among programs. You should contact programs directly for information on their deadlines.
Most programs require applicants to submit their applications using the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®). ERAS was developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to transmit residency applications via the Internet. Information on ERAS is available on the AAMC ERAS website. ECFMG coordinates the ERAS application process for IMGs. Additional ERAS information for IMGs is available on the ECFMG website. Programs that do not participate in ERAS require applicants to use paper application materials. You should contact programs directly for their requirements.
The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), also known as "the Match," matches applicants with available residency positions in the programs to which they have applied. If you wish to participate, you must register with the NRMP. Refer to the NRMP website for requirements and deadlines, as well as information on the numbers of IMGs who have obtained residency positions through the Match in recent years.
Obtaining a Visa
IMGs who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents must obtain an appropriate visa to participate in U.S. graduate medical education programs. The most common visa employed for this purpose is the J-1 visa. ECFMG is authorized by the U.S. Department of State to sponsor foreign national physicians for the J-1 visa. Information on eligibility and deadlines is available from ECFMG's Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program. Additional information is available from the U.S. Department of State and from the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services .
The ECFMG website provides access to important updates, application materials, and publications, including:
ECFMG Information Booklet USMLE Bulletin of Information International Medical Education Directory The ECFMG Reporter - ECFMG's free e-mail newsletter for IMGs interested in ECFMG certification. Subscribe
ECFMG representatives are available to answer your questions by
email at email@example.com. or phone at (215) 386-5900 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, eastern time in the United States, Monday through Friday.