International Medical Graduates & Visas

The Program Coordinator plays an important role in helping identify any trainees who might be International Medical Graduates or might require visa sponsorship.  Review the information below to learn more about your role in this process.

International Medical Graduates (IMGs)

All IMGs, including American citizens who are IMGs, must be Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certified prior to starting in their residency/fellowship program. Programs must provide a current, valid copy of the ECFMG certificate to MMCGME Services as required audit documentation (this is indicated on the Document Management webpage as well). Inform residents whose ECFMG certificate was issued prior to June 14, 2004 of the importance of getting their "Valid Indefinitely" sticker as soon as possible. 

See the ECFMG Certification webpage for more information.

Interview season guide

Visa Sponsorship - Applicant Information (housed in Google Drive)
This document has been created by GME for programs to use during interview season, providing high-level information on visa sponsorship at UMN. This should be provided to any applicant who indicates they require visa sponsorship in order to train at UMN. Programs must then discuss their own visa policies with candidates, using this guide as a starting point for the discussion. 

Visa sponsorship types

The residency/fellowship coordinator must verify the current visa status of all trainees requiring visa sponsorship who are coming into the training program.  Further information on visa types can be found in the Visa Sponsorship Policy. 

Here are some descriptions of common residency/visa status types.  See the "Interview Season Guide" above for more detailed information.

  • TN visa: Not allowed for medical residency/fellowship training.
  • J-1 visa: The J-1 visa is the preferred visa for trainees requiring visa sponsorship at the University of Minnesota.  The J-1 visa is sponsored by the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).  This requires an annual application for the duration of the training period.  See the J-1/J-2 Visas page for more information.
  • J-2 visa: Spouse of a J-1 visa trainee.  See the J-1/J-2 Visas page for more information. 
  • H-1B visa: In some situations, it may be possible to sponsor a foreign national on an H-1B visa instead of a J-1 visa.  The trainee must meet certain criteria in order to be allowed to sponsored on an H-1B visa, and the training program must obtain prior approval from the GME Office before proceeding with the application.  Please see the H-1B Visas page for the H-1B authorization form and send to Christy Illig at for processing.
  • Permanent Resident Status:  A foreign national who has obtained Permanent Resident status (aka "green card"). This individual simply brings the I-9 documentation to Central Payroll prior to the start date in the program.  The trainee will not require ECFMG or University of MN sponsorship.


Below are historical presentations shared with coordinators on the subject of visa holders and/or IMGs.