International Scholar Application Requirements

Applicant Requirements

  1. Ophthalmologist or ophthalmologists in resident/fellowship training (Only doctors of medicine  are currently accepted for the program, e.g., MD, MBBS, MB, BMBS or equivalent).
  2. Must speak English.
  3. Be in good standing at current school/institution.
  4. The fee for the International Scholar Program is $1,500/first month and $200 each additional month, excluding all costs (travel, food, lodging, insurance, visa, etc) which are the responsibility of the applicant.
  5. All application materials must be sent electronically and must be submitted at least four months prior to desired start date. All documents must be official copies in English. Mailed paper forms and documents are not accepted.

Application Process

To apply for a B-1 visa contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

  1. Review and choose a service(s). For service descriptions click here. 
    NOTE: If you are interested in ocular oncology, please contact the ocular oncology service directly. For all other services, continue this application process.
  2. Please select a minimum of two possible dates and/or services for your visit. Examples: (a) January 2017, Cornea Service or January 2017, Glaucoma Service; (b) January 2017, Pediatric Service or March 2014, Pediatric Service. Please be aware that scholars are not accepted in July or August. Dates will not be reserved for an observer prior/during the application process.
  3. Submit the following documents in English via email (mailed paper forms and documents are not accepted) at one time to the Wills International Coordinator:
    • A cover letter detailing desired rotation(s) and a minimum of two preferred time periods/clinics.
    • Curriculum Vitae.
    • A signed letter of reference from your chief of service including documentation of good standing (or additional verification from institution).
    • ECFMG certificate (if available).
    • Proof of English Proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS Scores must be taken within last two years. Minimum TOEFL Score: 79; Minimum IELTS Score: 6.5)

If you are accepted as a scholar, you will need to determine which non-immigrant status is most appropriate for your visit to the U.S. You may contact the nearest U.S. consulate to find this information. You are responsible for the arrangement and any costs of a visa. If a visa is required, a copy of your visa must be submitted prior to the start of your scholar program. You also will need to submit a Wills Eye Immunization Record Form completed and signed by your physician. Please submit the form with supporting documentation (i.e. lab test results, vaccination records) in English. Keep in mind the required IGRA blood test must be done within 3 months of your observership start date.”

  • To find out if you are eligible for the Visa Waiver program, go to travel.state.gov. If you are not eligible, you may need to enter the U.S. in the B-1 visitor for business status. This status has provisions for unpaid, elective clerkships at U.S. medical facilities.
  • You must have proof of health insurance for the duration of your stay. See detailed requirements at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
  • Your housing in Philadelphia, PA is not provided. However, these sites may be helpful:


If accepted, you will receive a signed acceptance letter. A copy of your visa (if required) and verification of health insurance must be submitted prior to your arrival. On arrival you will be given a tour and your personal academic schedule, and be introduced to your preceptor(s). Please be sure to bring a lab coat and suitable attire for the climate and office.


The fee for the International Scholar Program is $1,500/first month and $200 each additional month, excluding all costs (travel, food, lodging, insurance, visa, etc) which are the responsibility of the applicant.

We look forward to meeting you at Wills Eye.

Inquiries about the program can be submitted to: Dalena Nguyen at Dnguyen@willseye.org.