Information - J1 Clinical Activity
J-1s in the Research Scholar, Professor, or Short-Term Scholar categories cannot participate in any clinical activities.  Clinical activities has a broad meaning in the world of immigration.  This document provides guidance and clarity to hiring units regarding clinical activities.
  • The U.S. Department of State (DOS) does not differentiate between clinical research, clinical care, or other types clinical activities. We understand in the medical world, these terms mean different things; however, these terms are broadly grouped together by DOS for immigration purposes and are deemed clinical work.
  • According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), "clinical research is medical research that involves people to test new treatments and therapies." Therefore, clinical research is not allowed for J-1 Research Scholars, Professors or Short Term Scholars. 
  • DOS does not differentiate between contact with volunteer research subjects (i.e. someone who signed up to be a sleep study subject) or true patients (i.e. people seeking medical care) for a human research study. Both of these are considered patients
  • Humans and animals are both considered patients by DOS. Veterinary care and veterinary clinical research for animals are considered clinical activities and are therefore not allowed on the J-1 program.
    • Note: not all animals are automatically considered patients. 
      • An animal with an owner who would be saddened by its loss would be considered a patient. A J-1 could not do any activity involving this animal's well-being. 
      • Lab animals or animal models, whose sole purpose for existence is for research, are not considered patients by DOS. Therefore, any work with lab animals/animal models is allowed on the J-1 program.  Please reach out to IFSS if you have questions about the animals.
  • DOS uses direct 'patient care' and 'patient contact' interchangeably. Therefore, anything involving patient contact and/or patient care is considered clinical and is forbidden under the J-1 program.  Remember, the person does not need to be a traditional patient for this to be considered clinical.
  • 'Patient contact' is any physical or psychological interaction with a person that could affect their health and/or overall well-being. The person does not need to be a patient in the traditional sense. A few examples of patient contact that are considered clinical are: attaching EEGs to someone, drawing blood, performing an X-ray on a living being, dentistry, psychological interviews for study or diagnosis, and so forth. 
    • This is not an exhaustive list. Please contact IFSS if there are any questions, concerns, or doubts if an activity involves clinical work.
  • Pure observation is not considered a clinical activity and would be allowed in J-1 status. However, the J-1 must be truly only observing—they cannot interact in any way. The activity is no longer observation the moment a doctor hands the J-1 a scalpel to hold, asks the J-1 to check someone's blood pressure, etc.
    • A program involving observation will require a Five Point Letter along with the other required materials for a DS-2019 application. 
  • A J-1 may do research involving data that has been collected from someone else's clinical research. For example, if a host supervisor recently started a study involving checking heart rates during and after exercise, a J-1 may use the data from that study to help draw conclusions. However, the J-1 cannot be the one collecting the heart rates from the patients. That would be a clinical activity. 
  • J-1 Alien Physicians are the only J-1 category allowed to participate in any clinical activities. The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is the only entity authorized by the DOS to sponsor these physicians. The J-1 Alien Physician category is used for participation in accredited clinical programs or directly associated fellowship programs of graduate medical education or training. There are usually J-1 Alien Physicians at the UW Hospital and clinics, but none of them have been sponsored by UW-Madison. This means that UW-Madison did not create their DS-2019s--ECFMG did.