I. Foreign Nationals - Graduates of Foreign Medical Schools

(not U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents)

A.     Visa - A J-1 visa under ECFMG sponsorship is required for admission to the U.S. for residency/fellowship training.  ECFMG requires passage of the following written examination of medical knowledge and English language proficiency test:

1.    Prior to July 1984 - Visa Qualifying Exam (VQE).
2.   1984 to 1993 - Foreign Medical Graduate Examination in the Medical Sciences (FMGEMS*) or National Board Medical Examination (NBME).
3.    Current - U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE).
*FMGEMS not accepted in California

NOTE:  When one of the above examinations, the Clinical Skills Assessment exam, and the English exam, have been passed, and the applicant's medical education has been reviewed and approved, he/she is eligible for certification and sponsorship of a J-1 visa through ECFMG.  Visa sponsorship applications must be directed to ECFMG by the Graduate Medical Education Office  (Please contact Kathe McDonald, Graduate Medical Education, Ext. 916-734-4955 for applications).

All applicants applying for postgraduate training must provide a copy of a current ECFMG certification.

ECFMG does not accept the Federal Licensing Examination (FLEX) for meeting exam requirements for ECFMG visa sponsorship.  However, The FLEX exam, if taken prior to June 1985, is accepted for certification by ECFMG.  Applicants must obtain a score of 75 or higher on each of the three days of a single administration prior to June 1985.

NOTE:  U.C. Davis will not consider H-1B visa sponsorship for international medical graduate postgraduate training.

B.     ECFMG Certificate - All IMG's must have a current ECFMG Certificate in order to be eligible for residency/fellowship training in California.  To obtain an ECFMG Certificate, individuals must:

1.     Pass one of the written exams listed above (FMGEMS not accepted in Calif.);
2.     Pass Clinical Skills Assessment exam (as of 7/1/98);
3.     Pass the English exam; and,
     Meet all educational requirements as specified by ECFMG.

C.    Return to Home Country - Upon completion of residency/fellowship training, the individual will be required to return to his/her home country for two years before applying for permanent residency or return to the U.S. for other purposes.

II. Foreign Nationals - Graduates of U.S. Medical Schools

A.    U.S. graduates are not required to meet ECFMG requirements like International Medical Graduates.  ECFMG will, however, sponsor U.S. graduates for the J-1 visa.  (UCD is not authorized to sponsor clinical trainees for the J-1 visa.)  No examinations are required for this sponsorship.  The F-1 Student Visa is not permitted for postgraduate training at UCD.  Contact Kathe McDonald, Graduate Medical Education, Ext. 4-4955 for details.

III. U.S. Citizens or Legal Immigrants (Permanent Residents) - International Medical Graduates

A.   Visa - Not required for U.S. Citizens.  If permanent immigrant, must provide proof of resident alien status.

B.    ECFMG Certification - All individuals graduating from foreign medical schools must provide a copy of a valid ECFMG certificate.  U.S. Citizens or Legal Immigrants will complete the requirements outlined on Page 1, I.B.

C.     IMG's with pending applications for Permanent Residency will sometimes qualify for a Work Authorization permit.  A copy of the current permit must be submitted along with a copy of the receipt for filing the I-485 (Application to Change Status to Permanent Resident).

IV. Requirements for IMG Licensure in California - Foreign Nationals or U.S. Citizens

A.     Current ECFMG Certification.

B.    The following examinations and combinations of examinations are currently acceptable for licensing purposes in California:

  • USMLE Steps 1, 2 and 3  (Has phased out Flex and NBME Exams)
  • NBME Parts I, II and III (National Board Med. Exams)
  • NBME Parts I and II and Component 2 of FLEX
  • FLEX Components 1 and 2
  • State Board Examinations (taken prior to June 1969)
  • LMCC (Licentiate of the Med. Council of Canada-now called McCQE or Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination)
  • Original FLEX (three day FLEX weighted average)
  • SPEX (Special Purpose Examination)

C.     Two years of ACGME approved postgraduate training in any state in the U.S.  If training is NOT in Family Practice, Pediatrics, Surgery, Internal Medicine or Ob-Gyn, IMG must have 4 months of approved General Medicine postgraduate training;  OR,

Current certification by a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties or an ACGME approved specialty board; OR,

Take and pass the clinical competency exam (SPEX).

D.     All international medical graduates, with the exception of Canadian graduates (see "Special Notes" below) will be expected to furnish a current "Evaluation Status Letter"* from the Medical Board of California (MBC) when submitting an application for postgraduate training at UC Davis.  Fifth Pathway trainees will be expected to present a letter from the Medical Board stating that medical school training meets the requirements for licensure in the State of California.  These letters will be provided by the Medical Board after a completed application to the Medical Board has been reviewed and evaluated.

*Applicants for Fellowship positions will be expected to be licensed prior to training start date.

References - (addresses to contact for additional information)

  • J-1 visa, USMLE (Steps 1 & 2 only) and ECFMG certification information:

Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)
P.O. Box 828262
Philadelphia, PA  19182-8262
Telephone:  (215) 823-2121 or 386-5900 
(Sponsorship line-ask for Fred Valente)
FAX:          (215) 386-9766

  • California Licensing Information:

Medical Board of California
Division of Licensing and Applications
1426 Howe Avenue
Sacramento, CA  95825
Telephone:  (916) 263-2382

Special Notes

1.   Graduates of Canadian Medical Schools

Graduates of Canadian medical schools, who are not permanent residents of the U.S., are also required to have a J-1 visa issued through ECFMG while participating in postgraduate training in the U.S.  The ECFMG written examination and the English test are not required.

Medical education in Canada is considered by the MBC to be equivalent to U.S. medical education.  Some Canadian internships are also acceptable by the Medical Board as meeting the 1-year hospital service requirement for licensure.  National Board Exams (MCCQE) are also given in Canada and meet the examination requirement for licensure.  Canadian graduates who have not taken MCCQE (formerly called LMCC) exams will be required to take USMLE before they are eligible for licensure.