Pathways for Entry of Canadian Residents into U.S. GME (California)


August 27, 2018




1.    I would like to complete my residency in the U.S. Whom do I contact? What documents do I need?


A: U.S. programs will want to know whether you are eligible for licensure, which depends upon the number of completed training years and ECFMG certification. Requirements vary by state. Given the current number of "orphan" Canadian residents, most U.S. institutions will prefer you first contact either their GME office, or other specific contact.


2.    If I have completed two years of training in a Canadian residency, but never applied for ECFMG certification or a PTAL, am I eligible to complete my training in the U.S.?


  1. 2 years of accredited RCP training is equivalent to 2 years of ACGME training. Along with ECFMG certification, this qualifies the applicant for a California medical license. If less than 2 years of training was accomplished, then one would need in California) to apply for a PTAL. The remaining issue to address would be your specific visa status.


3.    I have not completed my first year of training in Canada, but I do have ECFMG certification and a PTAL. Am I qualified for training in the U.S.?

A:         States vary in their licensure requirements. An ECFMG certification and PTAL qualify one for licensure and training in California. Requirements vary by state. Currently an independent medical license requires two years in 12 states, 3 years in 25 states, and 1 year in 13 states. See question #6 below. You will likely need to enter the Match for a PGY1 position.


4.    I have completed 1 year of training in Canada and have an ECFMG certificate, but not a PTAL. Am I eligible for a license in any other U.S. state?


A:         If you are ECGMG certified, you can apply directly for a PTAL. Be aware that processing by the state can take months. Currently, 13 U.S. states require only 1 year of completed training for licensure.


5.    Do requirements for U.S. residency/fellowship training differ by state?


A: States vary in their licensure requirements. An ECFMG certification and PTAL qualify one for a license in California. Currently an independent medical license requires two years in 12 states, 3 years in 25 states, and 1 year in 13 states. The program requirements for individual specialties are established by the RRC (ACGE Residency Review Committee) for that specialty.


6.    If I am already qualified for a license in the U.S., do I need to go through the Match process?

A: Residency programs can opt to accept a qualified transfer resident into their program if an open position exists, or it can apply (to the specialty RRC) for a temporary increase in complement. In this case, there would be no reason to enter the Match. If such a position was not offered, the resident would then need to consider entering the Main and/or R Match.


7.    Can I contact residency programs directly?


  1. Given the number of residents in this process, most institutions will have a point of contact. At UC San Diego, this is UC San Diego Health Sciences International. In other institutions it may be the Office of Graduate Medical Education. This is the preferred method of contact, so that you receive good advice on the other considerations such as: visa requirements; state licensure; and institutional policies.


8.    If I have participated in a bridging program in the U.S. under a J-1 research visa, am I still subject to the 2 year "home" rule?

A:         If at any time in your training you were in the U.S. on a J visa, as for example for Kaplan or a research fellowship, then the requirement to return to the original country for two years applies. In some circumstances a waiver may be possible.


9.    I am nearly finished with my Canadian residency. Our program has research months built into the curriculum. Can I count a research year in the U.S. as the final months of training?


A: Clinical electives in the U.S. for Canadian residents are not permitted, owing to visa restrictions. Unless transferring into the new (U.S.) residency program, this procedure is not an option. The better option would be to remain in your Canadian residency, and ask the program to send you for elective research months in the U.S.. In this instance, residency would be completed in Canada. The resident would then have board eligibility in either country.



10.  If I am currently a Canadian medical resident but finish my training in the United States, where am I eligible to sit for Board certification?


A:         GME years completed in Canada and the U.S. are accepted reciprocally. Once residency is completed, the program director must evaluate whether the training satisfies the requirements for board certification in either country. Eligibility for sitting for the boards then becomes a decision for that specialty board in each country.





Contact UC San Diego Health Sciences International


Phone: 858-534-6204