As of today, March 27th, 2020, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) has signaled that it would again resume the processing of both J1 and H-1B visas. This is extremely important for over 4,200+ international medical graduates (IMGs) who Matched into U.S. residency positions in the March 2020 Match Cycle.
For those IMGs who do not have citizenship or permanent residency status in the U.S., they rely on visas sponsored by either the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG sponsored J1 visas) or those sponsored by medical institutions themselves (H-1B visas).
The recent update came after a potentially debilitating announcement on March 18th, 2020 that the U.S. would be suspending routine processing of both immigrant and non-immigrant visas in response to combating the risks posed by the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus.
However, the ECFMG and Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER) have been in close contact with the DOS, highlighting the importance the Matched IMGs have in combatting the coronavirus.
According to the ECFMG:
“We are encouraged that our close relationship and communications with DOS on this issue have resulted in this positive development,” said ECFMG|FAIMER President and CEO William W. Pinsky, MD. “There are still significant obstacles to getting these physicians here, and we can now shift our focus to addressing these other issues.”
Although this is certainly good news for Matched IMGs and will hopefully positively impact continued healthcare delivery in the U.S. – it does not guarantee that all these medical professionals will be able to complete visa process, especially if domestic restrictions in home countries inhibit their abilities to finalize the full visa application process.
Continuing to Move Foward
“In its communication, DOS encouraged individuals with an approved U.S. non-immigrant or immigrant visa petition (I-129, I-140, or similar) or a certificate of eligibility in an approved exchange visitor program (DS-2019) to review the website of their nearest embassy or consulate for procedures to request a visa appointment.”
We remain hopeful the Department of State, ECFMG, FAIMER and international institutions alike will continue to work together in establishing protocol that has the maximum benefit for Matched medical professionals, medical institutions, and the global community as a whole.
We urge you to be safe, be well, and continue supporting one another in all ways you are able.