You sure can! But be prepared to run the extra mile!
Graduates from or current students attending a non-AVMA accredited school that do not possess the ECFVG or PAVE have their options limited to academic positions in most instances. Even then, some academic institutions will clearly state in their program description that foreign nationals are not accepted.
The main reasons that an institution would not sponsor foreign candidates are:
- There is no funding available to sponsor those candidates (ie. fees paid to the federal government for visa processing)
- Visa processing can take months, even if expedited (meaning an additional fee). This means that candidates might start their programs late or not be approved for a visa to begin with, which would create significant logistic/scheduling problems for those institutions.
- State veterinary licenses are usually still required for academic positions, and ECFVG/PAVE is required to obtain said license.
If you possess the ECFVG / PAVE certificate and the NAVLE, you can apply for veterinary state licenses. This means you can apply to private practice programs if you meet all the other criteria for licensure. Keep in mind that the PAVE program is not accepted in every state.
Do I need a visa?
Regardless of your ECFVG/PAVE status, you need a visa to meet Immigration requirements. Citizens of Canada and Mexico have access to visas that are easier to obtain. Otherwise you are likely to need a H1-B visa, which can take months to process. Be sure to check what the rules are for your country of citizenship.
An H1-B visa allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. This visa is associated to your prospective employment and will end at the end of your contract. A new visa will then be needed if you move on to another program (ie. from an internship to a residency).
Is the application process different?
The VIRMP application process is the same as for American graduated applicants. However, there is extra documentation that needs to be provided, including proof of proficiency in English, translated transcripts (if applicable) and sometimes having your education evaluated by an independent entity. Some of these documents are needed only after you have matched, others (such as transcripts) are due for the VIRMP application. Additional information for foreign nationals is included in each program description. Contact the programs if you have questions about their requirements!
You are responsible for making sure all requirements are met for each program that you’re applying to. There is no mechanism that will automatically block your application to a specific program if you lack certain requirements. However, if the selection committees at each institution determine you don’t meet the criteria, your application will not be evaluated further and will be discarded.
What about training programs in other countries?
Similar to their American counterparts, there are also European specialty colleges. There is no matching program per se, and application procedures are highly dependent on the institution, country, and specialty college. Expect to put together an application tailored to each institution. European programs do not necessarily follow the June starting/ending dates for internships and July starting/ending dates for residencies like in the United States, which can pose problems if, for example, you’re finishing an internship in Europe and thinking about a residency in the United States through the match. There are also similar training programs in Australia and South Africa.