The first step for NY licensure for an IMG is through the FCVS process. The Federation of State Medical Boards has had a monopoly on credentials verifications, and started running the FCVS system in 1996. FCVS can take some months to complete, often 3 to 12 months. FCVS is now an online system, and the Physician must create his or her "profile" on the FCVS site. The initial FCVS fee is $295 (as of 2011). There are *many* additional fees so be sure to explore the FCVS "fee" schedule. A link to FCVS is below in the sources section, and provides both information and the forms needed to complete the process.
Medical School Degree Verification
The physician's foreign credentials must be verified also. This process, technically a "part" of the FCVS service, is performed by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). The ECFMG is tasked with assessing the readiness of international medical graduates to enter U.S. residency and fellowship programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). ECFMG also will verify a physician's degree for state medical boards. If the foreign medical school fails to respond to ECFMG, the physician must contact the school directly. There can be delays at the ECFMG level and at the foreign medical school.
NY Requirements for all Physicians
The steps above are specific to IMGs. IMGs must also meet all the requirements for licensure as a physician except for the citizenship requirement. This includes: being of good moral character; being at least 21 years of age; meet education, examination and experience requirements - medical degree, licensing examination (USMLE I, II, III or equivalent), ECFMG Certification, and completion of 3-years of postrgraduate Residency training.
3-Year Limited License
Primary Care Physicians seeking a three-year limited medical licenses must agree to limit their practice to a medically underserved area of New York State. This includes Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs), Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs), and areas/facilities designated by NY Department of Health.
Physicians must sign an Affidavit of Agreement with the New York State Department of Health, formally agreeing to practice only in a specified underserved area. Then the license may be granted for up to three-years, and up to 6-years if the physician is pursuing a green card.
2-year Limited License
In NY there is also a 2-year limited permit to practice medicine. The license is only valid for practice under the supervision of a New York State licensed and currently registered physician. Further, the place of practice is limited to practice only in a general hospital, nursing home, State-operated psychiatric, developmental or alcohol treatment center, or incorporated, nonprofit institution for the treatment of the chronically ill.
Additional resources provided by the author
It is important for an IMG who intends to practice in NY post-residency to plan ahead! Start working with your immigration attorney as early as a year before your start date. Whether you are seeking a J-1 visa waiver or are transferring from an H-1B, the immigration and licensing processes can easily take 6 months or longer. I've written more articles and information on J-1 waivers, H-1Bs, and issues for IMGs that can be seen on my AVVO profile or by visiting our website (linked below, of course!)
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