Want to know how to apply for pre-residency fellowships as an IMG? A pre-residency fellowship for international medical graduates can be a great first step in how to prep for your residency application and in your post-graduate medical career. For IMGs who want to practice in another country or apply for residencies abroad, a pre-residency fellowship can open more doors of opportunity for you. Applying for pre-residency fellowships are a long and involved process, but we’re here to help demystify it. In this blog, we’ll learn what pre-residency fellowships are, why they are a good choice for IMGs, how to apply, what you need for your application and how to improve your chances of getting accepted to a pre-residency fellowship abroad.

>>Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here.<<

Article Contents
4 min read

What are pre-residency fellowships for IMGs? Why apply for a pre-residency fellowship? How to apply for pre-residency fellowships as an IMG What you need for your pre-residency fellowship application How to improve your chances of getting a pre-residency fellowship FAQs

What Are Pre-Residency Fellowships for IMGs?

As an international medical graduate (IMG), if you’re planning to apply for a pre-residency fellowship, it’s important to understand what your obstacles are and how to overcome. But first you might be wondering, what exactly is a pre-residency fellowship and how can it help further my medical career?

A pre-residency fellowship, as the name implies, is a clinical training program or research fellowship medical graduates can apply for before they start their residency years. A pre-residency fellowship is usually a short-term program designed to provide rigorous clinical training or research experience in a given specialty or discipline. It’s essentially a work-study program for medical graduates. Typically, medical graduates will apply to a medical fellowship after their residency years, so for IMGs, applying for pre-residency fellowships can be the next step in the non-traditional route.

Applying to pre-residency fellowships can be how to get into residency programs as an IMG, it can help you get your foot in the door for a particular specialty or give you a competitive edge if you want to apply for residency programs in another country. A pre-residency fellowship can be a valuable experience to add to your residency CV, too.

Why Apply for a Pre-Residency Fellowship?

So why apply for a fellowship before your residency? Residency programs, particularly in the US and Canada, can be especially competitive. Preference is given to domestic medical graduates and gaining a competitive advantage as an IMG can be difficult, especially in the more competitive residency programs. Applying for pre-residency fellowships can be a good option for US and Canadian citizens, too. If you are a US or Canadian citizen and you attended medical school abroad, you are still considered an international medical graduate and therefore you might be at a disadvantage when preparing for residency.

As an international medical graduate residency applicant, it’s a good idea to give yourself every advantage you can get. Applying for pre-residency fellowship programs can have several key benefits for IMGs:

Now that you have your medical degree, figured out how to choose your medical specialty and decided that a pre-residency fellowship program is right for you, it’s time to find out how to apply and what you need to do.

How to Apply for Pre-Residency Fellowships as an IMG

Applying to pre-residency fellowships as an IMG requires several crucial steps. The process may also vary depending on the country you’re applying in, but the steps are relatively the same. For instance, work visa requirements and applications in the US, Canada or UK might look slightly different from each other.

Wherever you plan to apply, you’ll need to do a fair amount of research first. To start, research IMG-friendly residency programs and pre-residency fellowship programs in the country or region you plan to apply. Not all programs will accept international medical graduates, and eligibility requirements may vary from program to program. You’ll also need to check if the pre-residency fellowships are paid or not and if they fit your desired career path in medicine.

This is a general outline of the steps you’ll need to take as an IMG to apply for a pre-residency fellowship program in the US:

These are the very broad steps you’ll take as an IMG applying to a program in the US. We’ll look at some elements of the process to apply for a pre-residency fellowship in the US below.

What You Need for Your Pre-Residency Fellowship Application

A pre-residency fellowship application is fortunately nearly identical to a medical residency or medical fellowship application and requires many of the same components. It’s still always a good idea to check the individual requirements for each fellowship you apply for, as they may ask for additional components.

For your pre-residency fellowship application, you’ll need to prepare a personal statement, letters of recommendation, exam scores, a resume or CV. All of these can come together to create a strong application and help you as an IMG get into the program of your choice. Below we’ll take a closer look at each component of your application.

Want some tips for writing a residency personal statement? Watch this video.

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting a Pre-Residency Fellowship

Now that you know how to apply for pre-residency fellowships as an IMG and the key components of your application package, how can you make your application the best it can be? Pre-residency fellowships can be very competitive, and as an IMG you need to work that little bit harder to get your foot in the door. But there are many things you can do to strengthen your app and broaden your knowledge so you’re prepared for not only the application but your future career as a doctor.


1. What is a pre-residency fellowship for IMGs?

A pre-residency fellowship is a short-term program designed to provide an international medical graduate with clinical experience or research publications. 

2. How do I know if I qualify as an IMG?

In the US and Canada, IMGs are considered any medical graduates who have graduated from a medical school outside the United States or Canada. Even if you are a US or Canadian citizen, but graduated medical school outside of the country, you are considered an IMG. If you are an international student who graduated from an American or Canadian medical school, you are NOT considered an IMG.

3. What are the advantages of a pre-residency fellowship?

A pre-residency fellowship can be an excellent way for IMGs to gain additional clinical or research experience, and help them secure a medical residency in the future. 

4. How to apply for a pre-residency fellowship as an IMG?

To apply for a pre-residency fellowship you’ll need to become certified through the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. You’ll also need to complete any required medical licensing examinations, secure the proper work visa and submit the required documents to pre-residency fellowship programs.

5. How can I improve my pre-residency fellowship application?

To improve your pre-residency fellowship application as an IMG, be sure to include any clinical or research experience you already have. You can also demonstrate a working knowledge of the American or Canadian health care systems, a proficiency of English and strong interview skills, all of which will help you secure a position in a program as an IMG.

6. Which residency is easiest to get into for an IMG?

Internal medicine and family medicine are considered the easiest residencies for an IMG to get into. These specialties have the highest acceptance rates for IMGs.

7. Are there IMG-friendly pre-residency fellowships?

Yes; there are many pre-residency fellowship programs which accept IMGs in the US and Canada. You can find which ones accept IMGs by checking individual program requirements and eligibility.

8. How competitive are pre-residency fellowships for IMGs?

Pre-residency fellowships, like residency programs, can be quite competitive and often give favour to domestic medical graduates over IMGs. However, there are some programs and specialties that are more friendly and less competitive for IMGs, such as internal medicine or pediatrics.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting 

Want more free tips? Subscribe to our channels for more free and useful content!




Apple Podcasts




Like our blog? Write for us! >>

Have a question? Ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions!



Hello, Can you help me with a list of programs that are offering the pre-residency fellowship and also help me with the application. I am ECFMG certified and also I am American citizen. Thank you


BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello Ashraf, thank you very much for your question. You can reach out to us for a free initial strategy call to discuss how we can help you. 


Swarada Yadav

What all options do i have as a IMG with ecfmg certification?


BeMo Academic Consulting

Hi Swarada! Thanks for your comment. Please read all the details in this blog