Prevalence of US-trained International Medical Graduates (IMG) physicians awaiting permanent residency: a quantitative analysis

J Community Hosp Intern Med Perspect. 2020 Oct 29;10(6):537-541. doi: 10.1080/20009666.2020.1816274.


Background: International Medical Graduates (IMGs) contribute to about 23% of the physician workforce in the USA. Certain US-trained IMGs face long wait times for transitioning to a permanent resident status, which limits their ability to work to fullest capacity, especially during a public health emergency.

Objectives: To estimate the number of US-trained IMGs awaiting permanent residency.

Study design: Data were obtained from National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) to quantify the number of IMGs who secured residency training in the US from 2004 to 2020. Estimates of physician demographics were based on NRMP/ECFMG 2014 match data and Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) physician census data.

Results: Between 2004 and 2020, a total of 57,160 non-US IMGs who were not US citizens successfully matched to residency training programs. Applicants from India and China were noted to be impacted by delays in adjustment to permanent resident status. Per our estimate, there are between 1,460 and 1,959 US-trained physicians from China currently awaiting permanent residency, with applicants waiting since October 2015, and between 13,250 and 14,230 US-trained physicians from India currently awaiting permanent residency, with applicants waiting since June 2009.

Conclusions: The total number of US-trained immigrant physicians in active practice awaiting permanent residency to the USA is estimated to be ranging between 14,710 and 16,189.

Keywords: International Medical Graduates Policy Physician shortage.