In the U.S. tourism industry, clinical rotations walk a careful line between education, travel, and internship. This creates plenty of confusion when it comes to knowing what type of visa you need when traveling for your USCE. For hands-on medical clerkships, it is even less clear.

So, let’s break it down.


The B1/B2 visitor visa

The B1 and B2 visas are separate visas. The B1 visa primarily covers travel for business purposes, while the B2 visa covers tourism. However, the visas can be (and often are) combined into a B1/B2 visa.

When traveling for clinical rotations, you will most likely want the combined B1/B2 visa because it casts the widest net. The B1/B2 visa also allows you to stay in the United States for up to six months. This allows flexibility if you wish to complete multiple clinical experiences or want to travel around the U.S. before or after your rotation.

The application process for your B1/B2 visa will depend on your embassy. However, no matter your embassy, you will be required to complete a DS-160 form. Filling out this form is a great place to start your process toward a visa.


Medical Clerkships and the B1/B2 visa

The B1/B2 visa casts a wide net and allows medical trainees to participate in all kinds of clinical rotations including:

  • Observerships
  • Research
  • Hands-On

Despite the uncertainty, yes, it is possible to participate in a hands-on rotation with a visitor visa. However, this is only the case for medical students currently enrolled in medical school. For medical graduates, the B1/B2 visa only permits observership experiences.

For more about the specific law behind this, click here and scroll to the “Clerkship” heading.


What if I’m a medical graduate and want to do a hands-on rotation?

For medical graduates, it is still possible to do a hands-on rotation. However, the process is a little bit different. Instead of the B1/B2 visa, medical graduates will need to apply for a J-1 visa through the ECFMG. In order to be approved for the visa, medical graduates will also need a passing USMLE Step 1 score.


For more about hands-on medical clerkships with a visitor visa, reach out to an AMO Advisor at