Statement of Need Program for Medical Graduates Pursuing Postgraduate Medical Training in the US

NOTICE: Update for 2019: Administrative program changes to the Statement of Need Program

Important Notice:

Applicants should review these instructions before they apply for postgraduate training in the United States (US) for which they need to request a Statement of Need.

All J-1 physicians sponsored by Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) for clinical training are subject to the two-year home country return requirement under the United States' Immigration and Nationality Act.

It is the applicants' responsibility to ensure their training aligns with certification and licensure by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, or the College of Family Physicians of Canada, and Canadian medical regulatory authorities.

When undertaking medical training outside of Canada, applicants are to assume any risk associated with finding employment upon completion of training. Therefore, applicants must take into account the realities of Canada's current physician workforce needs and will need to be flexible with regard to their choice of specialty and the type and location of their future practice.

A Statement of Need is not a guarantee of employment in your desired specialty or practice location upon return to Canada.

When foreign national medical graduates wish to pursue postgraduate medical training in the US, they must obtain an appropriate visa that permits entry to the US to undertake clinical training activities. The designated visa for foreign national medical graduates is the J-1 Visa, a temporary non-immigrant visa, reserved for participants in the Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program (EVSP), issued by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

A Statement of Need is one of a number of requirements of the EVSP that must be met before a J-1 Visa can be issued to a medical graduate by the ECFMG.

Below you will find further information on the Statement of Need program.

Eligibility for a J-1 Visa

To determine if you are eligible for a visa, or if you can switch visas, applicants must contact United States' Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program for eligibility requirements. Health Canada is responsible for the Statement of Need, which is only one of the U.S. immigration requirements for a J-1 visa.

Statements of Need issued by Health Canada

Health Canada issues Statements of Need, on behalf of Canadian provincial and territorial ministries and departments of health, to medical graduates as part of the requirement to obtain a J-1 Visa to enter the US for the purpose of participation in postgraduate medical training.

Statements of Need confirm there is a need for the medical skills in Canada and that the medical graduates who are pursuing postgraduate medical education in the US have confirmed they intend to return to Canada and practice medicine in the field of medicine in which they will receive the training.

Who Can Apply

Applicants must be either a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada (possessing a valid Permanent Resident Card).

Visit the following link for application and instructions.

NOTE: The requirements for obtaining a Statement of Need from Health Canada are subject to change as they are reviewed periodically by Health Canada, in collaboration with provincial and territorial ministries and departments of health. Applicants are encouraged to monitor this website for any changes to the Statement of Need requirements.

Applicants must identify on their application which category of Statement of Need they fall under:

Category A

A Medical graduate currently enrolled in a Canadian specialty or subspecialty residency training program who wishes to pursue a fellowship in the U.S.

NOTE: Effective in 2016, Category A/Short-Term training no longer exist as an option for postgraduate medical trainees seeking short-term elective experience in the U.S. This change was put in place by ECFMG. For more information, visit the ECFMG website.

Category B

A final year medical student currently enrolled in any medical school, or a medical graduate of any medical school, who has not yet completed a medical specialty training program in Canada or the US who wishes to pursue medical specialty training; or a medical graduate currently enrolled in U.S. specialty or subspecialty residency training program who wishes to pursue a fellowship in the U.S.; or a licenced physician who wishes to pursue a new field of practice in the U.S.

Category C

A physician specialist licenced in Canada who wishes to pursue postgraduate training in a fellowship in the same field of practice in the U.S.

Documents Required for Completing a Statement of Need Application:

Visit Instructions for Completing a Statement of Need Application. To obtain a Statement of Need from Health Canada, you must provide:

1. Application Form

Complete and sign the PDF version of the application form, selecting the appropriate category.

2. Proof of Canadian Citizenship/Permanent Residency

3. One of the following:

  • US Match Webpage
  • Letter of Offer
  • Training Contract

Optional document:

  • Consent to the Disclosure of Personal Information to Provincial and Territorial Governments for Recruitment Purposes

Health Canada provides a list of names of physicians who have received a Statement of Need to ministries of health and physician recruiters. To be included in this list, you must sign the pdf version of the form titled Consent to the Disclosure of Personal Information to Provincial and Territorial Governments for Recruitment Purposes.

By signing the consent form, the applicant permits Health Canada to disclose personal contact information to provincial and territorial ministries of health and to physician recruitment agencies. The consent form may be signed at the time of application for a Statement of Need or at any time during the training in the US. Signing the consent form is optional and does not affect the issuance of a Statement of Need.

Application Process

Applicants can apply for a Statements of Need one year prior to their program start date in the U.S, provided all the required documents are included.

Completed applications must be submitted to: hc.j1visa.sc@canada.ca; include in the subject line: Application for Statement of Need, "Your Name".

Email must be less than 20 megabytes, in order to be received. Allow 30 working days for processing. Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis from the time the application is received by email.

You will be notified by email:

  • once your application is received
  • if there are errors or deficiencies in your application that must be corrected.
  • when the Statement of Need has been issued and sent to the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.

Health Canada sends by courier the Statement of Need directly to the Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program. A copy will be sent for your records, via Canada Post, to the mailing address provided in the application form.

For further details on completing your application, visit Instructions for Completing a Statement of Need Application.

Change location or undertaking additional training

Applicant must apply to Health Canada for a new Statement of Need if they are:

  • changing location of the training program (same specialty), or
  • undertaking additional postgraduate medical training.

Subsequent Statement of Need, applicants must apply under the same category used in their initial application. For further details on completing your application, visit Instructions for Completing a Statement of Need Application.

Two-year home country presence requirement

All J-1 visa physicians sponsored by Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) for clinical training are subject to the two-year home country return requirement under the United States' Immigration and Nationality Act.

Plan your training carefully: Information on medical licensure and employment in Canada:

There are differences in overall duration between Canadian and US postgraduate medical education programs. Considering such differences between the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC)-accredited programs and Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-accredited programs, applicants are strongly encouraged to pursue training in ACGME-accredited programs so they will meet the overall objectives of Training and Specialty Training Requirements (STRs) of the RCPSC.

Canadian medical authorities do not recognize many combined specialty programs in the US. In many cases, the duration of training does not meet Canadian practice standards. While individual program components may be housed in an ACGME accredited program, the overall programs are not ACGME accredited.

Applicants are to contact the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) or the RCPSC and the Medical Council of Canada early in their training for information about certification requirements and their associated processes and timelines.

NOTE: Applicants are to assume any risk associated with finding employment upon completion of training.

Medical Licensure in a Canadian Province or Territory:

Eligibility for licensure to practice medicine in Canada is determined by provincial and territorial medical regulatory authorities.

Information on medical licensure should be obtained from the medical regulatory authority in the province or territory in which you wish to practice.

Information on postgraduate medical education standards in Canada and on specialty certification is available from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Essential Resources for Medical Licensure and Specialty Certification in Canada. Visit this page for links to the above noted and other relevant organizations in Canada and the US.

Finding Employment in Canada:

It is entirely the responsibility of the applicant to find employment upon completion of training. Health Canada does not provide assistance to physicians regarding medical licensure or employment. For those who complete residency training outside of Canada on a J-1 Visa, Health Canada cannot guarantee employment upon return in their desired specialty or practice location.

Information on employment can be obtained from physician recruitment agencies across Canada. Applicants are strongly encouraged to engage with individuals or entities involved in recruitment of physicians within the province or territory where they intend to practice medicine well in advance of their return date to Canada.

Specialties identified as a limited demand in Canada

Nationally, the following areas are identified as limited demand at the current time, leading to challenges in finding employment in Canada:

  • Cardiac Surgery
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Nuclear Medicine
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Urology
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Diagnostic Radiology
  • General Surgery
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Otolaryngology
  • Sub-specialty training

Applicants are encouraged to consult with their home province and/or recruitment agency prior to pursuing training outside of Canada.

Contact Us

If you have questions about applying for a Statement of Need, in order to obtain a J-1 Visa for medical graduates, contact the Program Administrator at: hc.j1visa.sc@canada.ca.

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