Government Medical College Chandigarh Old Students Association



I have heard from some people that maximum duration of J1 visa is 7 years. so people who have done 5 or 6 yr Surgery residency programs on J1 are unable to do fellowships. Could somebody give info as to what extent this statement is true.

The general duration for J1 visa sponsorship for alien physicians for residency/fellowship training is about 7 years. But rules keep on changing. Below is an excerpt from the ECFMG website (which sponsors J1 visa for ACGME accredited programs):

Duration of Participation
The duration of participation for J-1 physicians in graduate medical education is the "time typically required" to complete the program. This generally refers to the minimum number of training years required by an American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) member board for specialty or subspecialty certification and/or the accredited length of training as defined by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). 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, however, does not entitle J-1 physicians to seven years of sponsorship. J-1 physicians are encouraged to consult with ECFMG regarding proposed educational pathways and sponsorship eligibility.

Try browsing through the ECFMG website ( and they also have links to other sites that might provide some information.

All the best

If the J1 is sponsored by 2 different bodies, can it then be for more than 7 years. What I mean is like initially if J1 is sponsored by some institute for doing research with them and then later when you join residency by ECFMG. So does ECFMG takes into account the years you have already been on J1 or is it max of 7 yrs irrespective of that. I hope I am able to get my question across.

I don't think you should be going into the complicated scenario of 2 J1 visas. J1 visa can be sponsored by a whole variety of organizations/universities etc for a whole variety of reasons. The one for research, if I am not wrong, is valid for 3 years. It is going to be a real pain to switch from a J1 research to a J1 clinical visa (for residency etc). To answer your specific question, I don't know the correct answer, but if I interpret the rules correctly, the J1 sponsored by ECFMG for residency is separate from the J1 for research, and should be valid for 7 years. But as I mentioned, two different J1's are a very very bad combination...have not heard of anyone doing that as yet (obviously, if it was a good option, there would have been a lot of people pursuing it!).

Just one more suggestion (and I know someone at my school who has done this). If you are on a J1 visa as a researcher and you get your PI (principal investigator) to give you a letter stating that you are indispensable, you can actually change your status to an H1B visa. I am not aware of the exact mechanics of the arrangement but I am pretty certain there is a provision for it.

Many thanks for giving you opinion, but would u please also tell me why is it a bad option (2 J1 visas I mean).

As I mentioned before, there are many classes of J1 visas (believe it or not) - and the duration of stay for each depends on who is sponsoring it and what the J1 is for. So depending on the type of J1, the duration of stay can range for 6 months (scholars etc) to 7 years (physicians pursuing residency training).

Before I go forward, remember that J1 is an "exchange visitor" visa (that is an exchange between US and another country with the understanding that the person will go back to utilize the skills learnt in the US in his home country) - so all types of J1's have some sort of going back clause attached with it - it varies in duration and strictness for different J1's, it is most strict for alien physicians doing residency in the US (the "two year" home country rule).

To answer the question raised by someone earlier in this message thread, how to convert from J1 RESEARCH VISA to H1B. For this, someone has to sponsor your H1B - most people get this done by working in a lab and doing some major research - your lab in charge or institution does this sponsoring for you (the need for major "productive" research and showing that you are indispensable to the USA is required when you apply for a green card through the national interest waiver category, not for converting from J1 to an H1B, I believe).

But obviously, things are not so simple - there is still the return home requirement with J1 research and to get around that you need a waiver - which is a very tedious process. It involves getting a no objection certificate from the Indian embassy here in the US (the most easy step) and from the passport agency, dept of health (nirman bhavan) and police dept in India (all three as you can imagine, can be very frustrating). So this thing is possible, but very tedious. Also if your ultimate aim is a residency, then it tends to be a rather long process - you spend 2-3 years in a lab trying to prove your mettle to your mentor, and if he/she gets impressed enough to sponsor your H1B, a further commitment of at least 1-2 years will be expected in that lab (unless of course that mentor is a close relative - then he/she could sponsor the H1B right away and would not make you go through the J1 to H1 process).

The question regarding two J1's, you will have to deal with the home country thing two times, and I dont even know if it is possible. If it was, I am sure there would be people trying it - but I have not heard of anybody doing that over the past more than 4 yrs that I have been here in the USA.

Hope this helps. Again, the above comes with a disclaimer, I am not an immigration expert, all above is from my understanding of this whole process.

Hi guys, well guys after so many opinions I received I called up ECFMG J1 info services. In nutshell the news is that when ECFMG sponsors J1 it does not take account which visa u r on previously. So even if u r a researcher on J1 (a max of 3 yrs) and now changing to clinical J1 sponsored by ECFMG it will be for 7 yrs. So meaning there by u can be on J1 for 10 yrs altogether by this method. The switch is definitely possible and u do not have to return to ur country in between ur changeover. So I guess not all is bad news.




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