Graduate Medical Education Criteria for Visa Sponsorship

The University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Graduate Medical Education Office currently accepts the following visas for residency/fellowship.


Permanent Resident Visa


Permanent residents can remain in the United States indefinitely and can engage in any type of lawful employment, training or education without limitation as to location, employer or duration. They possess a Resident Alien card also known as a "green card." The University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics does not provide sponsorship to individuals who are pursuing Permanent Resident visas.


Visitor Exchange Visa (J-1 Alien Physician) 


The J-1, or Exchange Visitor visa, is a temporary non-immigrant visa sponsored by the ECFMG for foreign national physicians to participate in graduate medical training in the United States. The duration of participation for J-1 physicians in graduate medical education is the "time typically required" to complete the program, and duration is further limited to seven years, provided that the J-1 physician is advancing in an approved program of graduate medical education or training.


The J-1 visa holder is further obligated to return to their country of most recent legal permanent residence for at least two years immediately following the completion of their training. The GME Office supports and administers the J-1 visa sponsorship application process through the ECFMG for residents and fellows in accredited training programs.


J-1 Eligibility and Requirements

  • Exchange Visitors must be eligible for visa sponsorship by successful completion of USMLE Steps 1 and 2 (CK & CS) and ECFMG Certification. For a full listing of eligibility requirements, please refer to the ECFMG website.
  • J-1 visa sponsorship applications must be submitted to the Training Program Liaison (TPL) in the GME Office and should not be submitted directly to the ECFMG. Application fees and other registration costs, as well as reporting changes to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, are the responsibility of the Exchange Visitor. 
  • It is the J-1 visa holder's personal responsibility to maintain lawful status while in the US and while training within a UW GME training program. Lawful status is evidenced by possession of a current Form DS-2019, an active SEVIS record, and Form I-94 confirming admittance for "J-1, Duration of Status - D/S." 
  • Neither internal nor external moonlighting is permitted on the J-1 visa.

Employee Authorization Document (EAD)


Employee Authorization Document (EAD) known popularly as a "work permit" is a document issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that provides its holder a legal right to work in the United States of America. It should not be confused with the green card.


The Employment Authorization Document is issued for a specific period of time based on alien's immigration situation.


Currently the EAD is issued in the form of a standard credit card-size plastic card enhanced with multiple security features. The EAD card contains some basic information about alien: name, birth date, sex, immigrant category, country of birth, photo, alien registration number (also called "A-number"), card number, restrictive terms and conditions, and dates of validity.



Canadian Citizens and Landed Immigrants


Although in the past two years it has become somewhat easier for Canadian citizens to obtain a J visa, it can still be a lengthy process. There is a 30 page document located on the Health Canada website that describes the requirements for obtaining a Statement of Need from the government of Canada for medical graduates seeking postgraduate training in the United States.