Foreign veterinary graduates: Working as a veterinarian in the U.S.


If you are not a U.S. citizen, you need a visa to work in or travel to the United States. The U.S. State Department provides information regarding visas and/or work permits. The AVMA has no role or influence whatsoever in the issuance of visas/work permits.

A visa does not provide or guarantee you a job as a veterinarian in the U.S. and does not by itself qualify you to work as a veterinarian in the United States.

Veterinary degree or equivalent

To practice as a veterinarian in the United States, you must have either graduated from a veterinary school accredited by the AVMA Council on Education® (AVMA COE®) or successfully completed an educational equivalency certification program such as that administered by the AVMA's Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates® (ECFVG®).

The ECFVG is accepted by all state regulatory boards as meeting, either in full or in part, each state's educational prerequisite for veterinary licensure. If you have further questions regarding educational equivalency certification, ecfvgatavma [dot] org (contact the ECFVG).

Veterinary licensure examination

After earning your degree from a COE-accredited veterinary school, or earning an ECFVG or other state-accepted educational equivalency certificate if you graduated from a listed, non-accredited school, you will also need to complete all state veterinary licensure requirements. This includes passing the national licensure examination administered through the International Council for Veterinary Assessment, as well as any state-specific examinations.

State veterinary licenses

To work as a private-practice clinical veterinarian in the United States, you will need a state veterinary license for each state in which you will practice veterinary medicine. This is in addition to your veterinary degree or educational equivalency certificate. Each state has different rules and requirements for licensure. Contact the individual state veterinary board or find additional information on the American Association of Veterinary State Boards website.

Finding a veterinary job in the United States

The AVMA does not provide a placement service for foreign veterinarians and will not sponsor foreign veterinarians for visa permits. It is up to you to find employment in the United States. Potential resources for job searches include the AVMA's Veterinary Career Center and the United States' Government's job site, USAjobs.

The AVMA's international affairs webpages also provide information on international travel/study opportunities, foreign service, and charities that help fund important veterinary programs across the globe.

Finding an internship, residency or graduate program

Foreign veterinary graduates must apply for internships and residencies through the Veterinary Internship and Residency Matching Program. It is up to the applicant to contact the veterinary school of interest to determine the examination and licensure requirements for the internship or residency program. It is also up to the applicant to determine if there are immigration, visa, or state licensing requirements that would preclude participation in an internship or residency program.