Finding IMG Friendly Residency Programs in the 2021 MATCH - IMGPrep

Finding IMG Friendly Residency Programs in the 2021 MATCH

July 5, 2020


As of June 23rd, IMGs have been able to obtain their ERAS Token as part of applying for US-based residency programs. This is an exciting time not only for IMGs, but also for the residency programs as well. They are welcoming their incoming class of interns and graduating their seniors. It is also the time of year they will update and make any revisions if they so choose to their application requirements. The following is some basic information for considering what’s next in the application process.

What is the next step after obtaining the ERAS Token? 

Upon obtaining the token, IMGs typically proceed to the MyERAS portal to enter their unique token number and start inputting their application information. That’s when the question, “Where should I send my application?” becomes most relevant. Obviously, a candidate needs to determine which program(s) are right for them, and this requires research and reflection. Because of the sheer number of programs and because each program can be making changes to its requirements and procedures, it can be overwhelming for a candidate to know where to start. IMGs face special challenges because some programs do not accept IMG applicants or may have special requirements for such applicants. For example, programs may have a cutoff for an applicant’s year of graduation (e.g., within the last five years) or have specific parameters for clinical experience, and some programs will interview a candidate without the ECFMG in hand while others will not.

With so many programs to choose from, where do I start with my research?

It is true that with hundreds of programs to consider, and with special requirements for IMGs that have to be taken into account, it can not only be overwhelming, it may also be inefficient and unproductive to do the work on your own.  IMG Prep is here to help. IMGPrep is the leading consulting company for International Medical Graduates seeking a U.S. residency program. We offer the most reliable search engine for IMG friendly residency programs in 27 specialties. We provide a list of medical residency programs that match your qualifications. The information about each program is more detailed than is otherwise available, and the lists have been recently updated for the 2020-2021 application season. For more information about our customizable Program Lists and accompanying services, please go to our website: IMGPrep Customized Residency Lists You can also read an IMGPrep article and watch a video about IMGPrep’s Program lists here: IMG Friendly Residency Programs and ERAS Fees


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USMLE Step 1 Score:

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USMLE Step 2 Score:

Graduation date:

US Clinical Experience?

Visa Sponsorship?

How do I determine which Residency Programs I qualify for?

In general, a candidate will want to consider which programs and specialties are best suited for what he or she wants to accomplish in life. Is it best to aim toward one single specialty or several? Key considerations in prioritizing programs will vary for each individual candidate and might include: 

  • Does the candidate meet the basic admissions requirements, scores, year of graduation, visa status, etc.? 
  • Are the program’s opportunities and requirements a good match with the candidate’s own goals, interests, and capabilities? 
  • What does an individual program offer in terms of mentorship, access to knowledge, opportunity for Fellowship, and practical experience?
  • Who are the Alumni, and where do they end up practicing after residency?  Are their experiences similar to the candidates goals?
  • Is the location of the program suitable for the applicant and perhaps family members, and does it offer preferred amenities? (Amenities in a location might include: access to arts programs and sports facilities; good job opportunities for an accompanying spouse; and education programs for accompanying children);

How much does it cost to Apply to ERAS?

According to AAMC’s Applying for Residency Program information. “ERAS application fees are based on the number of programs applied to per specialty. MyERAS automatically calculates your fees and you can pay online using Visa or MasterCard.” There are two major types of fees within ERAS. One set are the Residency Fees. These are fees that are based on the number of residency programs and specialties to which you choose to send your application. The second type of fees are one-time “Board Fees” to register the USMLE Scores ($80) and the COMLEX Scores ($80) in ERAS.  The AAMC sets a fee scale each year, which is explained on their website. See: Fees for ERAS Residency Applications.  

You may use the IMGPrep Free Fee Calculator (Login required) 

As you calculate application fees, please don’t forget to keep in mind other costs pertaining to the interview phase of the application (e.g., travel). These fees can add up quickly, which is why it is important to be strategic about prioritizing programs that are most likely to match your qualifications and preferences. ⓘ Due to Covid19, most programs this year will most likely opt to conduct video interviews in lieu of in-person interviews. 

How many Residency Programs should I apply to? 

The answer may be different for IMGs than for US-based applicants. AAMC’s research shows that, for US-based applicants, more is not necessarily better. But the research does not necessarily speak to the considerations for IMGs who are facing more difficult challenges with placement. For example, it makes no sense to send applications to programs that do not accept IMGs. There is no set answer for all, which is why it can be helpful to get professional advice from someone who can help you customize your own strategy for approaching residency programs that includes identifying the number of overall programs to which you should apply.  IMG Prep LLC maintains detailed and updated Residency Program Lists with smart filters that can help you navigate through hundreds of potential programs to find the best options for you. For example, there is a search box that addresses the basics, then another level of filtering that focuses on the applicant’s medical school and secondary sorting. This feature allows you to further personalize your lists.

Which Specialties are IMG Friendly?

According to NRMP Match data for 2019, the top specialties for IMGs include Pathology, General Surgery, Internal Medicine, Neurology, and Family Medicine. If you have another specialty in mind, it is still possible to find an IMG residency position, but it may be more challenging to find the right program. Again, IMGPrep’s Residency Programs Lists, which include in-depth information on more than 27 specialties, can help you determine which specialties are right for you.

Which Residency Programs are IMG Friendly?

There are a variety of factors in determining whether a particular program is IMG Friendly. A simple determining factor is whether the program has the capacity to handle the issuance of visas and other requisite services for accepting IMGs. That is particularly important for non-US IMGs and green-card holders. Another IMG-Friendly factor is to look at the percentage of current IMG residents in that program. (Some programs have a specific section on their website to provide guidance to IMG applicants, and a portion of those will indicate how many slots are available each year.) Also, even within residency programs that can be deemed “IMG Friendly,” there may be patterns to discern. For example, a closer review of the current residents will reveal that some programs are IMG Friendly but are more Caribbean Graduate Friendly. These important data points were taken into consideration when developing IMGPrep LLC’s database of  Residency Programs Lists.

If I have questions about the ERAS application process, where can I find answers?

For support with the ERAS application and/or specific questions about a residency program’s requirements, you can contact the ERAS Support Service staff at ECFMG. The phone number is: 215-966-3520. And the email address is: 

For more information about choosing IMG Friendly Programs, check out the IMG Prep articles: Are You Choosing the Wrong Residency Programs?, Residency Program Requirements, and Why Location Matters: The Top 10 IMG Friendly States in the US.

IMGPrep is a leading educational consulting firm dedicated to assisting IMGs in reaching their goals, dreams, and potential. Check out our other Articles and learn more about IMGPrep services at: