International medical graduates (IMGs) search for friendly residency programs when it comes to applying for medical residency in the United States. Many residency programs have never accepted IMGs in the past, and many IMG friendly programs only accept US citizens, despite their ability to sponsor or accept visas. Additionally, all residency programs have their own criteria to shortlist candidates. As a result, it is very important for an IMG to have a personalized list of IMG-friendly residency programs in the United States that offer chances of a match with his/her qualifications.
In 2023, NRMP reported 62.4% match rate among IMG applicants who submitted a certified rank order list according to the PGY-1 main residency match. 67% for US IMGs and 59% for non-US IMGs.
While the statistics look promising on paper, let’s look a bit deeper at the numbers.
NRMP suggests that applicants who get no interviews should not submit a rank order list.
In order to calculate the real match rate among IMGs, we also need to consider those IMGs who had applied but failed to get any interview invites. Therefore, we divide the amount of those who matched by the sum of all matched, not matched, and not submitted the rank order list. Under these calculations, the match rate for US and non-US IMGs is roughly 56% and 50% correspondingly.
Yes, the match rate increased by 10-12% during the past 7 years, but the current match rate still does not look very promising.
In 2021 pandemic year, it was very difficult to meet residency program requirements even for US-IMGs, and the match rate decreased significantly. The match rate recovered in 2022-2023 reaching the highest ever level of 56% for US-IMGs, but Non-US IMGs still have difficulties with meeting program requirements. Non-US IMG match rate increased a bit to 49% level and did not recover to before pandemic levels for a while.
Every IMG asks this question when he/she starts to look for medical residency in the USA. Medical residency programs in the United States are very friendly for US medical school seniors, who enjoy a match rate of 94%. On the other hand, the match rate for IMGs varies from 5% to 60% depending on specialty. Under these circumstances, IMGs face questions like: Should I search for certain states to apply? What is the right specialty to apply for? How can I find foreign medical graduate friendly residency programs? While it is possible to find IMG friendly residency programs pdf files, lists, and databases on the Internet, it is still not easy to choose the right programs to apply to. Here at ResidencyProgramsList, we try to make these things clear for IMGs.
- When deciding whether a state is IMG friendly or not, there are two common approaches. The first approach considers the number of IMGs in a state to classify it as an IMG friendly or otherwise. On the other hand, the second approach looks at the percentage of residency positions filled by IMGs in that state. By themselves, both of these approaches are often inaccurate. For example, a state with a lot of residency positions will have a larger number of IMGs, even if the IMG match rate/percentage in that state is low. On the other hand, a state with a high IMG match rate may only have few IMGs if it offers a small amount of residency positions. In both of these situations, it would be incorrect to assume that these states are IMG-friendly. Thus, the best approach to classify a state as IMG friendly or otherwise is to look at both the number and the percentage of IMGs in that state. An ideal IMG-friendly state should have a lot of residency positions and a high IMG match rate. Regardless of the approach, an IMG still misses a lot of opportunities if they restrict their application to only certain states.
- Specialties like internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, and others offer better chances of matching for IMGs because there aren't enough US seniors to fill all the available positions. On the other hand, specialties like plastic surgery are highly sought after by US seniors and offer fewer chances for IMGs. Internal medicine and family medicine are friendliest by the number of positions filled by IMGs. Pathology is the friendliest by percent of positions filled by IMGs. Pediatrics is the friendliest by match rate among IMGs. Considering all 3 factors together, internal medicine is likely the friendliest. While it is important to look at the odds of matching in a particular specialty, we should also acknowledge that well-qualified IMGs can match at the highest sought-after positions as well.
- If a program accepts IMGs who score above a certain score on the USMLE exam, it should be considered as IMG friendly. We consider a program as IMG friendly only if it has previously matched IMGs. It is important to understand that not all residency programs in the United States accept international medical graduates. There are a lot of programs that declare that they can accept IMGs and sponsor visas but in reality, many of them have never had IMGs. Moreover, there is a big difference between IMGs who have US citizenship or permanent residence and those who require visa. Even in those programs that declare accepting J1 and sponsoring H1 visa for IMGs, there may be no visa requiring IMGs. This is why for IMGs without US citizenship/permanent residence (commonly called non-US* IMGs) the whole matching process can be even more competitive. Moreover, programs often have graduation preferences based on connections with certain geographical area. For example, some programs accept Caribbean graduates only, some programs accept a lot of Asian graduates, while some other programs never accepted a graduate from Asia. As result, often IMGs need look for residency programs that are friendly towards non-US IMGs instead of just IMG friendly programs, for programs that are specifically friendly towards certain geographical area, for programs that are friendly toward applicants with a longer time since graduation, for IMG friendly residency programs in the USA that have light USCE requirements, etc. *- NRMP uses term non-US IMG for not U.S. citizens at the time of medical school graduation outside the U.S. even if citizenship obtained later.
AMA's FREIDA and AAMC Residency Explorer are not the bad sources of IMG-friendly lists for a strong applicant. However, very often, an application is not as efficient as it can be.
IMG-friendly programs listed in these databases receive thousands of applications and become very competitive. Our approach narrows down the list of programs and ranks programs by compatibility using collected statistical data and unique mathematical algorithms.
By default, we provide a free list of residency programs in the United States for IMG that satisfy selected visa requirements. The free list includes information about well-known IMG-friendly programs, links to program websites, and basic characteristics of the program. Each applicant can research residency programs, write notes, do several rounds of selecting and bookmarking. Our paid lists include all information that was pre-collected by our stuff: program-specific notes and additional requirements, past years NRMP insights, percent of residents from your country/school, information about all IMG-friendly programs. The Advanced list provides a graduation diagram and ranks programs by compatibility. The Friendly score is calculated by your country of graduation, your scores, US/non-US IMG status and many other important factors. Selecting programs from the top and middle of the ordered list helps to maximize the number of friendly positions with reasonable number of applications.
Internal medicine 1403521316 SUNY Upstate Medical University New York
— 1403521470 Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center New York
— 1403511264 Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center New York
Anesthesiology 0401612039 John H Stroger Hospital of Cook County Illinois
— 0401211038 Medical College of Georgia Georgia
— 0402521185 Henry Ford Hospital/Wayne State University Michigan
Neurology 1803521083 SUNY Upstate Medical University New York
— 1802531054 Detroit Medical Center/Wayne State University Program Michigan
— 1803521079 SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn New York
Emergency medicine 1103500207 Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center New York
— 1103500208 Wyckoff Heights Medical Center New York
— 1101200092 Coliseum Medical Centers Georgia
Radiology-diagnostic 4203521143 SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn New York
— 4203521147 SUNY Upstate Medical University New York
— 4202521096 Detroit Medical Center/Wayne State University Michigan
Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery 2803500143 Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell at Lenox Hill Hospital New York
Transitional year 9992500060 Detroit Medical Center/Wayne State University (Sinai-Grace) Program Michigan
— 9993300243 Hackensack University Medical Center New Jersey
— 9991100235 Kendall Regional Medical Center Florida
Dermatology 0802421141 Tufts Medical Center Massachusetts
— 0803331128 Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School New Jersey
Family medicine 1200511057 Arrowhead Regional Medical Center California
— 1203521465 Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center New York
— 1204821457 Texas Tech University (Permian Basin) Program Texas
Nuclear medicine 2001121087 Jackson Memorial Hospital/Jackson Health System Program Florida
— 2005421078 University of Washington Washington
— 2002421038 Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School Massachusetts
Neurological surgery 1602031031 University of Louisville Kentucky
— 1602500133 Spectrum Health/Michigan State University Program Michigan
— 1600321112 University of Arizona Arizona
Ophthalmology 2401100185 University of Florida College of Medicine Jacksonville Florida
— 2402400072 University of Massachusetts Medical School Massachusetts
Plastic surgery 3604721096 Vanderbilt University Tennessee
— 3603521058 Nassau University Medical Center Program New York
— 3603921085 University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Program Oklahoma
Preventive medicine 3804588116 University of South Carolina School of Medicine South Carolina
— 3803413133 University of New Mexico New Mexico
— 3803213126 Dartmouth-Hitchcock Leadership in Preventive Medicine New Hampshire
Radiation oncology 4303522064 New York Methodist Hospital New York
— 4303500146 Stony Brook Medicine New York
Surgery 4403521202 Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine New York
— 4403521207 Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center New York
— 4403511214 Harlem Hospital Center New York
Urology 4801100194 University of Florida College of Medicine Jacksonville Florida
— 4802400195 Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Massachusetts
Medical genetics and genomics 1302321043 Johns Hopkins University Maryland
— 1302421024 Children's Hospital/Harvard Medical School Massachusetts
— 1304821012 Baylor College of Medicine Texas
Vascular surgery - integrated 4510821084 Yale-New Haven Medical Center Connecticut
— 4513831078 University of Cincinnati Medical Center/College of Medicine Ohio
— 4514800125 University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Texas
Psychiatry 4003511242 Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (Elmhurst) New York
— 4001100309 Larkin Community Hospital Florida
— 4003511140 Harlem Hospital Center New York
Child neurology 1852021099 University of Kentucky College of Medicine Program Kentucky
— 1853521054 SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn New York
— 1852521052 Detroit Medical Center/Wayne State University Michigan
Pathology-anatomic and clinical 3003821277 Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals Case Medical Center Ohio
— 3004811352 University of Texas at Houston Texas
— 3003521260 SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn New York
Plastic Surgery - Integrated 3624100162 Geisinger Health System Pennsylvania
— 3623400001 University of New Mexico School of Medicine New Mexico
— 3621600148 Rush University Medical Center Illinois
Interventional radiology - integrated 4161100002 University of Florida College of Medicine Jacksonville Florida
— 4164800004 University of Texas Medical Branch Hospitals Texas
— 4163500015 Stony Brook Medicine/Mather Hospital New York
Thoracic surgery 4602621047 Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science (Rochester) Program Minnesota
— 4604813124 Texas Heart Institute/Baylor College of Medicine Texas
— 4601221022 Emory University School of Medicine Georgia
Thoracic surgery - integrated 4612400001 Brigham and Women's Hospital Massachusetts
— 4613511064 Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York
Pediatrics 3203531394 Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center New York
— 3201111056 Jackson Memorial Hospital/Jackson Health System Program Florida
— 3203521173 SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn New York
Obstetrics and gynecology 2203511180 Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center Program New York
— 2202531140 Hurley Medical Center/Michigan State University Michigan
— 2203521326 Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center New York
Physical medicine and rehabilitation 3403522041 Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center New York
— 3403521043 Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine New York
— 3402512108 Wayne State University School of Medicine Michigan
Internal Medicine-Pediatrics 7002532033 William Beaumont Hospital Michigan
— 7002832126 University of Missouri-Columbia Missouri
— 7002532030 Hurley Medical Center/Michigan State University Program Michigan
IMG friendly residency programs often receive thousands of applications and need to reduce this number to hundreds in some automated way. Programs use various approaches to achieve this goal. The probability of a successful match increases with the total number of applications by apply to programs with all types of various filtering algorithms that are used. According to NRMP research, the probability of a successful match stabilizes after 100-170 programs, depending on IMG applicant qualifications and specialty. The maximum probability of a match and a corresponding minimum number of programs to reach 90-95% of this probability is unique for each applicant and depends on the specialty and the applicant's qualifications. In general, the more competitive the specialty, the more programs needed to reach this individual probability maximum. The weaker the applicant, the lower the number of reasonable applications, and the more focus that should be placed on friendly positions. Selecting programs by suitable admission requirements, US/non-US IMG friendliness, graduation preferences, etc. helps to find the optimal programs to apply to.
Unfortunately, applicants cannot agree with each other to reduce the number of applications. Candidates should use the same number of friendly programs as others to keep chances equal. The number of friendly programs (that can consider candidate's application) correlates with interview chances and probability of the match. This correlation is linear for small numbers but essential saturation point exists if the number of friendly programs is high, and the probability near stabilizes after reaching of the certain number of applications. According to our research, even the strongest IMG applicant needs to apply to at least 80 programs to have a good probability of a successful match. Mid applicants may need to apply to 120-150 programs. Weak applicants often try applying to a large number of programs, but the number of programs with suitable minimum requirements is limited and probability can't be increased to high levels even by applying to all programs. Weak applicants should strive to apply to all suitable programs but not just to a big number of programs.
The blue graph shows that applicants who applied to 100 programs have best chances, in average, but this does not mean that particular applicant need to apply to 100 programs to have the best chances. This just mean that highly qualified applicants are majority of those who decided to apply to 80-100 programs.
Previous match statistics and minimum requirements are the key.
Basic list filters programs by minimum requirements and reduces the number of programs as much as it possible. If the number of programs is close to the one you wish to apply to, the BASIC list can be an optimal choice.
Using statistical data to increase the probability is a powerful tool in many fields. Our Advanced list uses common statistical methods designed by PhD mathematician to order programs by probability. Overall number of residents, percent of US/Non-US IMGs, percent of residents from your geographical area and your country of graduation, your scores, and many other factors are taken into account. By selecting programs from the top and middle of the ranked part of the list, you can cover a high percent of really friendly positions with a reasonable number of applications.
First, the personalized list helps to apply to the right programs and increases interview probability.
Also, personalized list saves time you can spend on other preparations and finally increases the chance of a successful match.
Additionally, filtered list often saves thousands of dollars that you could spend on gaining more USCE, for example. IMGs usually apply to more than 100 programs in order to match into a U.S. medical residency. The application is not free. For example, applying to IMG friendly residency programs in 2022 costs $519 for the first 30 programs and $26 for each additional program. If you applied to 100 programs, it would cost you $2339. Next 100 programs cost another 2600$.
Many residency programs require US clinical experience and clearly mention this in their application requirements. Programs that do not require US clinical experience officially in their application guidelines may instead prefer applicants with prior US clinical experience. In reality, the probability of a successful match without US clinical experience is much lower than with US clinical experience. Without a doubt, USCE is absolutely mandatory for competitive specialties and for applicants with low USMLE scores. For IMGs, it is highly recommended to have as much USCE as possible.