International Medical Education

COVID-19: National Physician Town hall questions on IMGs


On April 9, 2020, a panel of AMA leaders took to YouTube for a live town hall to shed light on the most pressing issues facing physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Featured updates: COVID-19

Access the AMA's library of the most up-to-date resources on COVID-19, including articles, videos, research highlights and more.

You'll find answers on this page to questions, compiled from queries submitted during the AMA’s National Physician Town Hall, about immigration, visas and more.

The AMA is actively fighting to protect the immigration status of IMG physicians. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the AMA has:

  • Successfully urged the State Department to reverse the suspension of visa processing for foreign-born medical professionals
  • Successfully encouraged the State Department to allow the extension of programs for J-1 physicians
  • Encouraged U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to temporarily expedite extensions and changes of status for foreign national doctors currently in the U.S.
  • Joined with medical education and other health care organizations to fight an Immigration and Customs Enforcement proposal that would upset the “duration of status” for foreign trained medical professionals

Physicians who hold a H-1B visa or are part of the Conrad State 30 program are critical to providing care in rural and other underserved areas of the US. That’s why the AMA is proactively advocating to expand the number of physicians serving in these areas, working to draft legislation with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Representative Bradley Schneider, and other bipartisan, bicameral Congressional members.

Physician training has certainly been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, but individual medical education institutions and training programs are developing ways to help offset these disruptions. Some are turning to distance education for certain required aspects of physician training. Students and trainees should discuss remote options available with their program sponsors or educational institution.

All examinees with scheduling permits for USMLE testing in 2020 have been granted an extended eligibility period ending December 2020. You can find more information on the USMLE COVID-19 page.

For more information on how the pandemic is impacting IMG physicians, visit the AMA’s COVID-19 FAQs: Guidance for international medical graduates.