Visa Information

Univ of Washington Policy | J-1 Visas | H-1B Visas | Other Visas | Helpful Information/FAQ | Questions?

The University of Washington Family Medicine Residency Program encourages qualified applicants of all backgrounds to apply for admission. If you have read and feel that you meet our minimum requirements, this page will help answer your questions about visas.

Briefly, our policies are summed up with the following key points:

1) We accept ECFMG-sponsored J-1 visas
2) We do not sponsor H-1B visas.
3) Requests for consideration of non-J1 visas should be submitted in writing to the program and adequate explanation of sponsorship conditions should be indicated in ERAS.

University of Washington School of Medicine Visa Policy

(effective 4/13/06 )

Scope: All International Medical Graduate's (IMG) participating in accredited post-graduate training programs (i.e., residency or fellowship) at the University of Washington.

Policy: The UW School of Medicine accepts foreign medical graduates into its accredited residency and fellowship programs with J-1 visas sponsored by the Educational Commision for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). The UWSOM generally does not accept residents or fellows on H-1Bs into its accredited training programs, unless the resident/fellow is otherwise illeligible for a J-1 visa (e.g., the ECFMG rarely sponsors foreign citizens who have graduated from an American medical school).

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J-1 Visas

The J-1, or Exchange-Visitor visa, is intended for educational purposes and allows residents and fellows to participate in temporary educational exchange programs. It stipulates that a holder of the visa will return to his/her home country following completion of the program. The GME Office supports and administers J-1 visa applications with sponsorship by the ECFMG for residents and fellows.

Residents applying for a J-1 visa must be eligible for visa sponsorship under the criteria set forth by the ECFMG, which includes but may not be limited to:

1) Possess a valid ECFMG Certificate. 2) A contract or offer letter from the UW GME program. 3) A current Statement of Need from the Ministry of Health of the phsyician's country of most recent legal permanent residence.

** Applicants from Canada may be required to seek sponsorship through Health Canada via a Statement of Need.

Application fees and other registration costs, as well as reporting changes to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, are the responsibility of the resident or fellow.

It is a J-1 visa holder's personal responsibility to maintain lawful status while in the United States and while training within a UW GME training program. Lawful status is evidenced by possession of an active SEVIS record along with the corresponding DS-2019 Form and I-94 Record (Arrival/Departure Record) or I-797 Form (Notice of Action).

Residents/fellows on a J-1 visa who wish to travel internationally must have a travel endorsement on the DS-2019 Form.

Residents/fellows on a J-1 visa are not permitted to moonlight.

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H-1B Visas

The University of Washington Department of Family Medicine cannot sponsor H-1Bs under any circumstance due to increasingly restrictive federal policy regarding their application and maintenance. We have previously allowed residents entering in F-1 OPT status to consider H-1B status for their second and third years, but cannot do so anymore.

All application fees and any other costs associated with the application procedure are the responsibility of the department in which the resident or fellow will be training.

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Other Visas

Other visas may be sponsored through the appropriate University office, and subject to the policies of the University and School of Medicine. Residents and fellows holding tourist visas will not be allowed credit for participation in their programs.

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Helpful Information/FAQ

For Applicants:

Payment - It is HIGHLY recommended that you pay online through OASIS.   Payment made by check can delay the application processing time by up to 10 days.

CVs - These need to be current and should not include any gaps in life experiences. All dates must be accounted for with education, employment, research or other event.

I-94 - You must review your I-94 carefully to ensure that the information written on your I-94 by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official is accurate (ie, issued I-94 as J-1 with date).  Please visit for more information.

Statement of Need from Ministry of Health – This letter needs to refer to the specific program the applicant will be in, not the parent program.  If you will be doing subspecialty training, the letter needs to refer to the subspecialty training program.  If you are switching from a residency to fellowship program, you will need a new MOH letter for the fellowship program.

US Embassy/Consular Interviews – See website links to US Embassies and Consulates.  It is a good idea to find out the wait time for appointments at the embassy/consulate, as processing/interview times vary by location.   You must have your current DS2019 prior to your interview, however you should not wait until you receive it to make your appointment.  

Initial Sponsorship Applicants – IMGs sponsored by the ECFMG can only enter the US from abroad 30 days prior to the date indicated on the DS-2019.

Validation of Initial Arrival (for those with an initial J-1) – ECFMG must confirm the arrival of all initial J-1 physicians in the government database, SEVIS, within thirty days of the training start date.  Trainees must fax their completed Validation of Initial Arrival form to the ECFMG, signed by the TPL, along with their I-94, copy of their J-1 visa page, and stamped DS2019.

Request for Travel - As soon as you know that they will be traveling, you need to submit your request for travel validation to the ECFMG if your travel validation section on your DS2019 is not current.  It typically takes 2 weeks (10 business days) turnaround time, so it is essential that this request be made well ahead of your planned travel.  You should provide the TPL with your travel departure and return dates, and a letter will be faxed to the ECFMG.  The travel validation section of the DS2019 can only be signed by the ECFMG regional advisor, or other approved ECFMG official.

Permission to Apply for Entry into the US – You must have a valid visa in order to re-enter the US if traveling abroad (except from Canada, Mexico, and the adjacent islands).  As long as you remain in the US, it does not mater if your visa expires, however if you choose to travel outside the US, you must have current Travel Validation status and update your visa status prior to returning.

General Information:

Eligibility - Eligibility requirements for J-1 sponsorship can be found on the ECFMG website at

When to submit applications - Incoming residents/fellows new to UW should submit their J-1 application paperwork as soon as they have matched into their program.  Residents/fellows who will be continuing in a UW program should submit their paperwork by the end of February or as soon after as possible.

Processing time - It typically takes 4-6 weeks for the ECFMG to receive, review, and process a DS2019.  If there are any deficiencies in the application, this can delay the approval process by several weeks.  It is recommended that applications be submitted at least 10 weeks prior to the start date to allow time for review by the GME office prior to submitting to the ECFMG. 

TPL - This is the communication point person between the UW GME programs and the ECFMG.  All issues regarding visas go through the TPL, who also certifies the applications.  Applications should NOT be signed by anyone else.  The TPLs at UW are Gabrielle Nathanson ( and Amity Neumeister (


Application for Initial J-1 Sponsorship -

Application for Continuation of J-1 Sponsorship -

Application for Initial and Continuation of J-1 Sponsorship in a Non-Standard Program

Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) -

UW International Service Office (ISO)

US Department of State, Exchange Visitor (J) Visa Information

US Department of State Travel Information -


Please direct inquiries to:

UW Family Medicine Residency (206) 520-2405, FAX (206) 520-2450