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Statement of Need Program for Medical Graduates Pursuing Postgraduate Medical Training in the United States 2016

Important Notice:
Applicants whose postgraduate training programs start in 2016 should use these instructions to apply for a Statement of Need. Please review these materials carefully, as significant changes have been made.

Statements of Need are issued by Health Canada, on behalf of provincial and territorial ministries of health, to medical graduates to assist them to obtain a J-1 Visa to enter the United States to pursue postgraduate medical training.

A Statement of Need is one of a number of requirements of the Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program (EVSP), Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), that must be met before a J-1 Visa can be issued.

Below you will find a description of the program as well as instructions to apply for a Statement of Need.


Who issues Statements of Need in Canada?

Health Canada issues Statements of Need, on behalf of Canadian provincial and territorial ministries and departments of health, to medical graduates to assist them to obtain a J-1 Visa to enter the United States for the purpose of participation in graduate medical training.

What is a J-1 Visa?

When foreign national physicians wish to pursue postgraduate medical training in the United States, they must obtain an appropriate visa that permits entry to the United States to undertake clinical training activities. The designated visa for foreign national physicians is the J-1 Visa, a temporary non-immigrant visa reserved for participants in the Next link will take you to another Web site Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program (EVSP), Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

How do I apply for a J-1 Visa?

All foreign national physicians must apply to the Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program (EVSP), Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), to obtain the J-1 Visa. To obtain the J-1 Visa, foreign national physicians must, among other requirements, obtain a Statement of Need. The Statement of Need is one of many requirements of the ECFMG that must be met before a J-1 Visa can be issued.

What is a Statement of Need?

A Statement of Need is a form letter issued by Health Canada to medical graduates to assist them to obtain a J-1 Visa to enter the United States to pursue postgraduate medical training in the United States.  Statements of Need confirm that certain qualified medical practitioners are needed in Canada and that the medical graduates who are pursuing postgraduate medical education in the United States sincerely intend to return to Canada and practice medicine in the field of medicine in which they will receive the training.  Applicants are expected to pursue training that is needed in Canada.  Applicants are expected to pursue medical training which is recognized by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, or the College of Family Physicians of Canada, and Canadian medical regulatory authorities, and which will lead to specialty certification and medical licensure in a province or territory.

Who is eligible for a Statement of Need?

Applicants must be either a Canadian Citizen or a Permanent Resident of Canada possessing a Permanent Resident Card that has not expired.

How do I apply for a Statement of Need?

To apply for a Statement of Need, applicants must complete an application form and provide a number of documents to Health Canada. There is no fee for obtaining a Statement of Need. The specific requirements depend on the profile of the applicant and the type of medical training being sought in the United States. The requirements for obtaining a Statement of Need from Health Canada are subject to change as they are reviewed annually by provincial and territorial ministries and departments of health.

Consult the descriptions below and select the category that best describes you. The specific page for each category describes the documents required to apply for a Statement of Need.

Click the terms below for more information on that category.

Category A
Medical graduate currently enrolled in a Canadian specialty or subspecialty residency training program who wishes to pursue a fellowship.
Category A/ST(Short Term)
Medical graduate currently enrolled in a Canadian specialty or subspecialty residency training program who wishes to pursue a Short-Term Rotation or Elective training program (less than 6 months) in the same specialty.
Category B
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 United States who wishes to pursue medical specialty.
Category C
Physician specialist licenced in Canada who wishes to pursue postgraduate training in a fellowship in the same field of practice.

Note: If your circumstances are not described above or you have questions about determining your category, please see the additional information and descriptions of applicant categories.

NEW: Please see the additional information and descriptions of applicant categories for upcoming changes to the Statement of Need program.

Where do I submit my application?

Please submit all required documents to the Program Administrator, Health Canada.  It is your responsibility to ensure all required documents are submitted.  Complete packages are recommended and email is preferred. Certified and notarized documents cannot be submitted by facsimile.

Please submit your application by one of the following methods. 

  1. email (preferred)
  2. courier
  3. regular mail
  • Email Address:
  • Address for Mail and Courier:
    • Program Administrator
      Statement of Need / J-1 Visa Program
      Health Human Resources Policy Division
      Strategic Policy Branch
      Health Canada
      Jeanne Mance Building, Address Locator 1904A
      200 Eglantine Driveway
      Tunney's Pasture, Ottawa Ontario, K1A 0K9
      Telephone: 613 952 1912

When should I submit my application?

Category A/ST - Short Term Elective or Rotation
Applications for a Statement of Need in support of a short-term elective or rotation must be submitted no less than six weeks prior to start date.
Category A and Category C- post-residency fellowship
Applications for a Statement of Need in support of post-residency fellowships can be submitted starting January 4, 2016.
Category B - specialty; family medicine
Applications for a Statement of Need in support of specialty or family medicine training programs can be submitted after the results of the NRMP are released on March 18, 2016.
Category B - subspecialty
Applications for a Statement of Need in support of subspecialty training programs can be submitted after the sub-specialty match results.
Category B - family medicine fellowship; chief resident; one-year ACGME-accredited program.
Applications for a Statement of Need in support of the above-mentioned training programs can be submitted starting January 4, 2016 or upon receipt of a letter of offer or training contract.

How is my application processed and how long will it take?

Please allow 30 working days for processing. Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. The exception is an application for a Statement of Need when the proposed training is located in California; these will be processed on a priority basis.

You will be notified by email once your application is received. You will then be notified by email if there are errors or deficiencies that must be corrected. Lastly, you will be notified by email when the Statement of Need has been issued and sent to the ECFMG.

The Statement of Need is delivered directly to the Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program in Philadelphia by courier. A copy for your records is mailed to your permanent address in Canada. However, if you are already in the United States with a J-1 Visa, a copy will be mailed to your address in the United States.

What tips are there for completing my application?

How should I submit my application for a Statement of Need?

Submissions can be made by email, regular mail or courier. If using email, attach all required documents in an email and send to j1visa@hc-sc.gc.ca. If the size of your attachments is an issue, you can submit your documents in more than one email.

How should I prepare my documents?

Use a desktop scanner to create PDF files. Do not submit cell phone photos or screen shots.

How do I certify or notarize my documents? Can I submit notarized copies by email?

Please contact one of the following professionals to notarize / certify your documents:

  • Notary Public
  • Lawyer, Attorney-at-Law
  • Commissioner of Oaths
  • Designated official at a Canadian Embassy or Consulate or a designated official at an American, Australian or British Embassy or Consulate or High Commission
  • Medical Doctor or Dentist currently licenced in Canada
  • Police officer in Canada: municipal, provincial, or federal (RCMP)
  • Justice of the Peace, Judge, Magistrate or Mayor, in Canada
  • Professional accountant who is a member of the Association of Practicing Accountants (APA) (United Kingdom); or one of the following professionals: Chartered Accountant (CA), Certified General Accountant (CGA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Public Accountant (PA), Registered Public Accountant (RPA)
  • Member of Parliament (MP); Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP)(Ontario); Member of National Assembly (MNA)(Quebec); Member of House of Assembly (MHA) (Newfoundland & Labrador); Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA)(all other provinces and territories)
  • Funeral director in Canada
  • Pharmacist in Canada
  • Veterinarian in Canada
  • Professional Engineer in Canada
  • Municipal Clerk at a City Hall in Canada
  • Minister of religion in Canada
  • Social Worker: Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), Master of Social Work (MSW), Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) in Canada

This person cannot be a family member. Most professionals will prepare the document according to their professional practice. Otherwise, this person must see the original document, make a photocopy of the original document, compare the original document to the photocopy, and print the following on the photocopy: "I certify this to be a true copy of the original document". This person must write on the photocopy the name of the original document, the date of certification, his or her name, and his or her official position or title. This person must also sign the photocopy. Applicants should not sign anywhere on the photocopy of the document.

Once notarized, create a PDF copy with a desktop scanner, and include these documents in your email submission.

What is the fee for obtaining a Statement of Need?

There is no fee.

Who can be a witness to my signature on my application form?

Any adult can sign as your witness.

How do I complete the two-page application form?

Print the PDF form located on the Health Canada website. Fill in the information required ensuring you write your ECFMG/USMLE number in the boxes provided. Affix hand written signatures and initials on page two of the form.

How do I complete the Consent Form for the Purpose of Recruitment?

Print the PDF form located on the Health Canada website. Read both pages of the form first, then initial page one and sign page two with a witness.

What should I write down for "proposed training in the United States"?

Provide the standard wording accepted by the Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program. The EVSP/ECFMG requires the exact name of the training program be written on your Statement of Need. For specialties, write down the field of medicine: Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Anesthesiology, etc. For post residency fellowships, write down the specialty as well as the title of the fellowship: Anesthesiology - Pain Medicine. For non-standard fellowships, the accepted wording is usually on your letter of offer or contract; however, you should consult your ECFMG Training Program Liaison to verify you write down the accepted title of the training program.

I do not have an ECFMG number. How do I get one?

If you have a USMLE number, the EVSP/ECFMG will use that as your numeric identifier. If you do not have a USMLE number, contact the EVSP at evsp-support@ecfmg.org to obtain your number.

Should I submit other documents and information to enhance my application?

No. Assessing applications with too many or extra documents takes longer and unnecessary documents are discarded.

What document is required to prove the proposed specialty training program is accredited by the ACGME? Why is that proof required?

Accepted documents are (a) a copy of your program information from the ACGME website, or, (b) a copy of the letter issued by the ACGME to the training program confirming its accreditation. Submit information about your specific program; do not send multi-program, multi-page reports. The proof is required because only ACGME accredited training is recognized by the RCPSC for eventual certification and licensure in Canada.

How will I know my application has been received?

You will be notified by email once we have received your application.

How will I know if my application is complete or incomplete?

You will be notified by email if there are errors or deficiencies that must be corrected. Once the Statement of Need has been issued and sent to the EVSP/ECFMG, you will be notified by email.

If I give you my courier account number, will you send my Statement of Need directly to me or to my training program?

No, Health Canada sends Statements of Need directly to the EVSP/ECFMG via courier. A copy of the Statement of Need will be mailed to you by regular mail to your permanent Canadian address or your US mailing address if you are already there with a J-1 Visa. Your copy is for your records only and should not be sent to the EVSP/ECFMG.

Can I submit an application before the match so I am guaranteed a Statement of Need for a specialty that is on the limited list?

No, you cannot submit an application before the match to guarantee a Statement of Need. You can submit your application as soon as the match results are released. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Do I need another Statement of Need for my second year of residency?

Normally, the duration of a Statement of Need matches the duration of your residency. Check the duration on the Physician Information Page attached to your Statement of Need. However, if your original Statement of Need supports only a preliminary or transitional year, then the duration of the Statement of Need is one year and you must apply for another Statement of Need once you have a new training position.

I want to pursue a fellowship after my three-year residency program in internal medicine. Do I need another Statement of Need?

Yes. You must apply for another Statement of Need if you wish to pursue any additional training after the three year residency.

I have a medical licence in the United States; can I apply under Category C?

No. Category C is only for doctors who possess a medical licence in Canada.

I have been selected as a chief resident in my internal medicine program. What should I know and how should I apply for a new Statement of Need?

You should know that the position of chief resident is not ACGME-accredited and the EVSP treats chief resident as non-standard training. To apply for a Statement of Need for chief resident, you must prove the position is at least 60% clinical activity.

Why must I contact the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) - Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program?

You must contact the Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program (EVSP) of the ECFMG so you can apply for the J-1 Visa. The EVSP issues the DS2019/J-1 Visa, not Health Canada. The Statement of Need issued by Health Canada is only one document required by the EVSP to complete your J-1 Visa application.

What is the two-year home country presence requirement?

This is a United States requirement. For complete information on this requirement, contact the ECFMG's Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program, the United States Department of State, or an American immigration attorney.

I want to move to a new location next year to continue my training in the same specialty. Do I need another Statement of Need?

Yes. Statements of Need are specific to the field of training and the location. To obtain another Statement of Need, submit an application form along with a copy of your new letter of offer or contract and proof it is an ACGME accredited program.

I want to change to another specialty right away. How do I obtain another Statement of Need?

If the new specialty is on the current List of Needed Specialties, you can submit an application form along with a copy of your new letter of offer or contract and proof it is an ACGME accredited program.

I want to extend my training for an eighth year and the EVSP told me to get a letter of exceptional need from Health Canada. Will you issue one for me?

Health Canada does not issue letters of exceptional need. Please contact your provincial or territorial Ministry of Health to discuss your request.

I am already in the US with another visa for my residency. Am I eligible to get a J-1 Visa for my fellowship?

Health Canada cannot say if you are eligible to get a J-1 Visa; contact the Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program for eligibility requirements. However, if you are a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada, you are eligible to apply for a Statement of Need.

I already have a Statement of Need - what do I do if I wish to change my specialty, change my location or undertake additional training?

Applicants who wish to change the specialty, change the location of the training program (same specialty), or undertake additional postgraduate medical training in the United States must apply to Health Canada for a new Statement of Need.

To apply for a new Statement of Need, applicants must apply under the same category used in their initial application.  Proof of Canadian Citizenship need not be resubmitted.  However, if you are a Permanent Resident of Canada, proof of unexpired Permanent Resident Card is required for a subsequent Statement of Need. 

Where can I get information on medical licensure in a province or territory in Canada?

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 Next link will take you to another Web site medical regulatory authority in the province or territory where you wish to practice.

Information on postgraduate medical education standards in Canada and on specialty certification is available from the Next link will take you to another Web site Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the Next link will take you to another Web site College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Essential Resources for Medical Licensure and Specialty Certification in Canada. Please visit this page for links to these and other relevant organizations in Canada and the United States. 

How can I get help with finding employment in Canada?

Health Canada does not provide direct assistance to physicians with the process of medical licensure or with seeking employment.

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.

What is the consent form for recruitment purposes?

From time to time, Health Canada provides a list of names of physicians who have received a Statement of Need to ministries of health and physician recruiters.  If you would like to be included in this list, you must sign the .pdf version of the form entitled 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 United States. Signing the consent form is optional and does not affect the issue of a Statement of Need.

What if I already have J-1 Visa sponsorship with another country?

Requests for review of circumstances from physicians who already have or had J-1 Visa sponsorship with support from another country will be considered on a case-by-case basis by provincial and territorial ministries and departments of health.

Who do I contact for additional information?

If you have questions about determining your category or require additional information about applying for a Statement of Need, please contact the Program Administrator using the following email address: j1visa@hc-sc.gc.ca.

You may also wish to contact a Statement of Need representative in a provincial or territorial ministry or department of health.