2020-2021 Residency Application Cycle: Complete IMG Timeline and Checklist

This year, due to COVID-19, there are several VERY IMPORTANT changes to the residency application timeline. Key differences in the application timeline are signified in red. We urge you to pay close attention. 

Below is a timeline of events with additional suggested actions per time period for the Main Residency Match® Season from start to finish for International Medical Graduates (IMGs).

June 2020: Start Your Program Research

June 23, 2020: ERAS® Tokens available to IMG applicants

  • Apply and pay for your ERAS token through ECFMG®
    • You can find this under ECFMG’s OASIS® ERAS Support or the MyECFMG mobile app
  • Use your token serial number to register for MyERAS
  • Start researching residency programs that are best suited to your professional criteria
    • Be aware free databases and program websites aren’t always up-to-date, check for timestamps and verify the information!
    • Annually updated and personalized Customized Residency Program Lists are available at Match A Resident
  • Schedule and take your USMLE® Exams so you can have them ready when residency applications begin – COVID-related delays permitting. 
    • Remember, you will need your USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK and Step 2 CS completed by the Rank Order List Deadline in February to qualify for the Main Residency Match
    • The last date to take the USMLE Step 2 CS in order to qualify is December 31st, and testing spots fill up FAST

July – August 2020: Prepare Your Residency Application

  • Visit our partner, Residency Experts to learn the best strategies for obtaining strong Letters of Recommendation (LoRs)
    • Learn about the submission process through the ERAS LORP® before talking to your Letter Writers
    • Make sure you confirm with the writers and give them the Letter Request Form from MyERAS
    • Have a one-on-one meeting to discuss their feedback about your performance and your expectations about the letter
    • If you do not waive your LoR, you may upload them through ECFMG’s OASIS
    • If you’ve been asked to write LoRs on behalf of your author, visit Residency Experts’ Authorship Guide here
  • Start writing your medical residency Personal Statements
    • You will need at least ONE Personal Statement PER medical specialty
    • If you need help editing or completing a statement from scratch, see Residency Statement
  • Start filling out your MyERAS Application
    • Preview the application with the ERAS Worksheet
    • Fill out your Contact Information (This is the only part of the application you can change after certifying)
    • You can work on the application and come back to it as many times as you need
    • Utilize professional assistance to edit, optimize, and craft your MyERAS Written Sections to perfection with the help of Residency Experts Application Editing and Review
    • DO NOT CERTIFY until the application is complete and error-free, after certifying your answers will become locked and unchangeable for the rest of the application season
  • Request your USMLE transcript
    • Make sure you authorize the release of this document when you begin applying
    • If you haven’t taken the Step 2 CK, take it before September! (scores usually take about 3-4 weeks to come back)
  • Take and upload a photo
    • Have a professional take your photograph
  • Request the Medical School Transcript and MSPE from your medical school
    • They will not do this automatically, you must ask
    • If you cannot get an MSPE, you will need to let ECFMG know so you can upload a placeholder document that explains you were unable to get this documen

August 16, 2020: Suggested OASIS documents submission date to have the documents ready before the application start (2 weeks prior)

  • Ensure all of the documents you have uploaded are ready to use
    • Follow up with your LoR writers and make sure to thank them!
    • Check with OASIS, MyERAS, and your medical school for the status of your documents

September 2020: Apply to Residency Programs

September 1, 2020: Starting from 9 a.m. (EST) ERAS allows residency applicants to certify and submit their applications to residency programs. (Programs will not receive the applications until October 21st, 2020. This is 5 EXTRA weeks, compared to the normal September 15th release date.)

  • Certify your MyERAS application
    • Please Note: Do not Certify your ERAS Application until it is 100% completed. If you click “Certify” with incomplete or incorrect content, this document will be unchangeable and set in stone for the rest of the residency season.
  • Double-check your saved program choices to ensure you are only applying to programs you qualify for
    • Please Note: ERAS will not refund any money paid to incompatible programs. Choose which programs you apply to wisely based on the state requirements, and individual program requirements.
  • Assign document to residency programs
    • Be careful to assign the correct documents to the right programs. For example, Family Medicine programs should be receiving your Family Medicine Personal Statement and Letter(s) of Recommendation  
  • Submit your applications between September 1st and October 21st
    • All applications submitted during this period will be time-stamped “October 21st,” so you do NOT need to rush all of your applications on September 1st.
    • You may continue to find programs and submit applications throughout the rest of the Residency Application Season

October 2020: Applications Released and Interviews Start

October 21, 2020: Applications are released to residency programs, who can begin reviewing them. MSPEs are released to programs from ECFMG

At 9 a.m. (EST) Residency programs begin receiving applications previously submitted by residency candidates. NRMP® registration opens at 12:00 p.m. (EST).

  • Double-check your program choices to ensure you are only applying to programs you qualify for
    • Please Note: ERAS will not refund any money paid to incompatible programs. Choose which programs you apply to wisely based on the state requirements, and individual program requirements.
  • Submit your applications
    • You may continue to find programs and submit applications throughout the rest of the Residency Application Season
    • Apply to at least 100 programs per specialty (if applicable)
  • Register with NRMP
    • Remember, registration with ERAS does not mean you are registered with NRMP
    • Register with NRMP before November 30th to avoid late fees.
  • Check on and follow up with the status of your applications
    • Be sure to check your messages on MyERAS

November and December 2020: NRMP, Applying, and Interviews

  • Register with NRMP before the early registration ends
  • Send Follow Up Letters to residency programs you haven’t heard back from
  • If you’ve obtained interviews and completed them, send a Thank You Letter after

November 30, 2020: Last day for NRMP early registration ($50 late fee after this date)

December 31, 2020: Last date to take the USMLE Step 2 CS to qualify for the Main Residency Match

February 2021: NRMP® and Rank Order Lists

February 1, 2021: Rank Order List ranking opens

  • Be sure to register with NRMP by the Rank Order List Deadline (required for Post-Match SOAP® eligibility)
  • Create, change, and certify your Rank Order List
    • You may make changes to your Rank Order Lists after certifying until the deadline

March 2020: MATCH Week and the Post-Match SOAP®

March 3, 2021: NRMP Rank Order List Deadline (9 p.m. EST)

  • Register with NRMP (required for Post-Match SOAP® eligibility)
    • Please Note: Registration with NRMP is required to participate in the Main Residency Match and Post-Match SOAP
    • The Rank Order List Deadline is also the last day for your USMLE exam scores to be verified. IMGs must have their USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK and USMLE Step 2 CS verified by the Rank Order List Deadline in order to qualify for the Main Residency Match

March 12, 2021: All NRMP-registered applicants will receive their Post-Match SOAP® eligibility email (Please Note: Being eligible for the Post-Match DOES NOT mean you did not Match. You will learn your Match Status on Monday of Match Week.)

March 15, 2021: Match Week® begins and Post-Match SOAP kicks off

  • Check your Match Status on Monday of Match Week at 11 a.m. (EST)
    • You will be either Matched, Partially Matched, or Unmatched

March 18, 2021: Post-Match SOAP concludes at 11 a.m. (EST).

March 19, 2021: MATCH DAY! If you were Matched, your residency location will become available at 1 p.m. (EST)

May 2021: 2020-21 ERAS Application Season ends

May 31, 2021: 2020-21 ERAS Application Season Ends

  • Do you have copies of EVERYTHING you may want in the future? If not, your documents will be purged from ERAS’ system (some documents in OASIS carry over)
  • After all that hard work, if you are Matched, you will begin training July 1st the year of The Match.
  • Just to clarify, this is a timeline and checklist for the Main Residency Match Season. Further in-depth information about the Post-Match SOAP will be released beginning January 2021.
  • **Please Note: Dates and times are subject to change. Always keep informed by visiting the websites

Official Websites Resources:

  1. ERAS:  https://students-residents.aamc.org/attending-medical-school/how-apply-residency-positions/applying-residencies-eras/
  2. ECMFG: http://www.ecfmg.org/
  3. NRMP: http://www.nrmp.org/
  4. USMLE: http://www.usmle.org/


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