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J-1 Visas and Statements of Need

Statements of Need issued by Health Canada

Health Canada (HC) issues Statements of Need, on behalf of Canadian provincial and territorial ministries and departments of health, to medical graduates as part of the requirement to obtain a J-1 Visa to enter the US for the purpose of participation in postgraduate medical training.

Statements of Need confirm there is a need for the medical skills in Canada and that the medical graduates who are pursuing postgraduate medical education in the US have confirmed they intend to return to Canada and practice medicine in the field of medicine in which they will receive the training.

NOTE: The requirements for obtaining a Statement of Need from Health Canada are subject to change as they are reviewed periodically by Health Canada, in collaboration with provincial and territorial ministries and departments of health. Applicants are encouraged to monitor this website for any changes to the Statement of Need requirements.

Applicants must identify on their application which category of Statement of Need they fall under:

Category A

A Medical graduate currently enrolled in a Canadian specialty or subspecialty residency training program who wishes to pursue a fellowship in the U.S.

NOTE: Effective in 2016, Category A/Short-Term training no longer exist as an option for postgraduate medical trainees seeking short-term elective experience in the U.S. This change was put in place by ECFMG. For more information, visit the ECFMG website.

Category B

A 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 US who wishes to pursue medical specialty training; or a medical graduate currently enrolled in U.S. specialty or subspecialty residency training program who wishes to pursue a fellowship in the U.S.; or a licensed physician who wishes to pursue a new field of practice in the U.S.

Category C

A physician specialist licensed in Canada who wishes to pursue postgraduate training in a fellowship in the same field of practice in the U.S.

Effective Sept 10, 2018, the following changes have been implemented for all three SON Categories (A, B, C):

  • applicants will not be screened against a list of pre-identified specialties, sub-specialties or fellowship training needs; 
  • applicants will no longer require a letter of support from their home province or territory; and
  • applicants will no longer need a letter of support from a Canadian medical school or proof of Canadian medical licensure, since validation of previous medical training is the responsibility of the host institution in the US.

Prior to receiving a SON from HC, applicants continue to:

  • declare their firm intention to return to Canada following completion of their residency/fellowship to practice in their chosen specialty;
  • adhere to Canadian licensing requirements set by medical regulatory bodies, such as the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada or the College of Family Physicians of Canada, Medical Council of Canada and provincial-territorial medical certifying bodies; and
  • assume all risks associated with undertaking training outside a Canadian medical school/training institution as it pertains to licensure and employment.


HC will continue to periodically review evidence of need for the SON program and make program adjustments, as required.

For details on the Statement of Need program requirements, please consult:

If you have questions about applying for a Statement of Need, in order to obtain a J-1 Visa for medical graduates, contact the Program Administrator at: