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Immigration FAQs for Foreign Medical Graduates

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The visa in my passport has expired. Can I continue to work in the United States?

You may work with an expired visa while you are in the United States. However your passport cannot expire.

I would like to go to Canada to renew my visa. What do I have to do?

First you must check to see if Canada requires you to obtain a visa to go into their country. Applications for a visa may be required from the Canadian Consulate in Downtown Buffalo at the following address: Consulate General of Canada, Immigration Regional Programme Centre, 3000 HSBC Center, Buffalo, NY 14203. Their telephone number is 716 858-9500. Please bring the following documents with you when apply for your entry visa to Canada: Application for Temporary Entry to Canada, valid passport(s), valid I-94 card, valid DS-2019 and Additional Supplementary form(s). If you are applying by mail include a self-addressed, prepaid, certified envelope so your documents may be returned to you.

Secondly, you must obtain an appointment for an interview at the U.S. Consulate in Canada. Only applicants with interview dates will be interviewed. However, if you are a Canadian Landed Immigrant coming to Canada to apply, you are not subject to make an appointment. To make an appointment for non-immigrant visa renewal, visit Non Immigrant Visa Appointments to make an appointment.

Third, on the day of your appointment at the Consulate in Canada you should arrive between 8:15 and 10:30 AM. Please remember to bring the following items: appointment letter, application fee (certified check or money order), original DS-2019, proof of support (i.e., bank statements, pay stubs) and 2 passport-size photos.

Although you may have all documents necessary for your application to renew your visa, the Consulate in Canada does not have to grant it to you. It is always highly recommended that you should return to your country of origin to obtain your visa.

NOTE: Applicants will only be able to re-enter the U.S. if they are found eligible for a new visa and actually have the visa stamped in their passport. I-94 cards accompanied by previous expired visas, will no longer be valid for automatic re-entry if during their visit they applied for a new visa that has not, in fact, been issued.

I will be traveling outside the United States. What needs to be done with my DS-2019?

As program sponsor, a representative from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is the only person who can sign the DS-2019. ECFMG signatures for Form DS-2019 travel validation located in the box on the lower right side of Form DS-2019 are valid for one year or until the expiration date of Form DS-2019 as indicated in Box 3, whichever comes first. As long as you possess a travel-validated DS-2019 that has not yet expired, a new travel-validated DS-2019 is not required for each trip abroad. Only one ECFMG signature is required in the travel validation box, even though there are two spaces for signatures.

How to Request a Travel-Validated Form DS-2019 from ECFMG: If a J-1 physician or J-2 dependents have travel plans outside the United States and they are not in possession of a travel-validated DS-2019, they must complete a Request for Duplicate Form DS-2019 for Travel and fax it to ECFMG at 215-386-9766. ECFMG will process the request within seven to ten business days and send the Form DS-2019 to the physician or Training Program Liaison by regular U.S. mail, unless otherwise instructed.

My spouse would like to work while I am in the United States. What does s/he have to do?

J-2 dependents may obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by applying to the district office of BCIS. Permission for a J-2 will be granted if the funds generated from the J-2 are used only for recreational and cultural activities, travel, etc. They may not be used to support the J-1 visa holder.

Form I-765 is used to file with BCIS for work authorization. A letter should accompany this form stating why the J-2 wishes to be employed, the amount of remuneration the J-1 is receiving and stating that the income you receive from the J-2 will not support the J-1 foreign medical graduate. Remember that the J 2's EAD is only valid for the length of time of the J-1's DS-2019.