April 11, 2018


Who is an international medical graduate?

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) defines an International Medical Graduate as a physician who obtained his medical certification outside of the United States and Canada. Basically, if you did your medical studies in Medical Institutions located outside these two countries, you are recognized as an International Medical Graduate. Your citizenship is not taken into consideration. What determines your status as an IMG is the geographical location of the school where you did your studies. On that note, even US or Canadian students studied outside the US and Canada are seen as IMGs. Also, non-US citizens who graduated from the US and Canada are not classified as IMGs.

The ECFMG Certification

Qualifications of IMGs are thoroughly assessed by the ECFMG. Requirements to be met by the IMG’s include:

  • Admission into ACGME accredited residency and fellowship programs. ACGME stands for Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
  • Sit for and pass the step 3 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).
  • Get a license allowing you to practice the profession without restriction in the United States
  • J-1 Visa Sponsorship

The application fee for the ECFMG is currently pegged at $75. Information listed on the Standard ECFMG certification includes:

  • Applicant’s name
  • Applicant’s certificate number
  • Date that the applicant met the requirements for the certification
  • Date of issuance of certificate.

What are the requirements I must meet before getting an ECFMG certification?

  • First of all, you must duly complete the ECFMG application
  • You must make a good performance at the Step 1 USMLE, Step 2 Clinical knowledge and Clinical skills step 2.
  • Medical education credentials must be duly verified. You must have completed 4 years of a medical school curriculum, with your medical school graduation year listed in the International Medical Education Directory. You can assess the directory’s database at http://IMED.ecfmg.org
  • Your transcript and medical diploma must be seen and verified by the ECFMG.

All prospective IMGs are required to pass the USMLE steps and step component within a period of 7 years. This implies that once you pass the first step or step component, then you must pass subsequent step components within a 7-year timeline. Failure to do this will invalidate your first USMLE performance. Please note that you will not receive any notification by the ECFMG that your performance has been invalidated for the ECFMG certification. Also, note that you will not be informed of any approaching deadlines for certification. You are however at liberty to apply for a resit if your performance is invalidated.  You can, however, take a resit only 6 times.

Certification process

The first step in the certification process requests for a USMLE/ECFMG identification number. This can be done via the ECFMG Interactive Web Applications. Upon receipt of the number, you must include it in all relevant documents including your credentials, applications, request forms, and payments.

While completing your application, you will be asked to verify some details such as your date of birth, gender etc. You will be guided on how to do this in the event those adjustments are made. Students of Medical Institutions located outside the US and Canada will be asked to verify their studentships in these institutions.  To be eligible, your institution must be listed in the World’s Directory of Medical Schools. Also, your year of graduation as indicated in the ECFMG note on the Sponsor tab of the World Directory of Medical Schools must appear as current. To confirm that you have met these requirements, you can access the World Directory at www.wdoms.org

The ECFMG certification application requires confirmation of an understanding of the purpose of ECFMG certification and the release of certain legal claims. Information submitted by you in your application will form a permanent part of your ECFMG record. Once submitted, you are automatically qualified to apply for the examination. The information remains valid and cannot be changed throughout the certification process. You will receive a confirmatory email once your application has been received by the ECFMG.

Note that if your application for ECFMG was submitted as a student, there will absolutely be no need to submit another upon attainment of graduate status.

Verifying your certification status

Confirmation of IMGs certification status is provided by the ECFMG Certification Verification Service. This information is sent to state medical boards, residency programs, and other organizations including hospitals and HMOs.

Web-based requests for ECFMG confirmation status is handled by CVS Online. You will receive your confirmation via postal mail. You can set up your program account by sending an email to cvsonline@ecfmg.org

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