June 11th, 2015
-ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates)
-Iranian medical school graduates
-Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury
Once upon a time in America, over the course of a week, there happened to be some confusion at the ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates) on what to do with medical school graduates from Iran. What transpired in those seven days demonstrates the state of confusion that exists concerning the sanctions placed on Iran which prohibit individuals/entities in the U.S. from engaging in commerce with Iran or otherwise face severe repercussions.
Here’s how it started:
On May 29, 2015, the ECFMG announced that it would no longer accept medical degree graduates from Iran. In their announcement they noted that Canada too would no longer accept Iranian medical school graduates. This prompted a huge outcry from the Iranian diaspora and educators leading to the circulation of a petition to have ECFMG place Iranian medical school graduates back on its list. Had ECFMG done its due diligence before reaching the controversial decision? Perhaps not, as seen by what transpired five days later.
On June 3, 2015, the ECFMG issued the following update:
“ECFMG has consulted with officials of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of Treasury to clarify whether OFAC restrictions permit ECFMG to engage in verification activities for medical credentials issued in Iran. Based on this consultation, ECFMG is diligently working toward resolution of this important issue. Once again, we regret any inconvenience, and we thank all of our clients for their patience and cooperation.”
Two days later, this happened…
On June 5th, ECFMG amended its position and released the following statement:
“ECFMG is pleased to announce that it will resume processing of requests for verification of medical credentials issued by educational, health care, and medical registration/licensing institutions in Iran. As previously announced, ECFMG was not processing such requests, pending clarification of restrictions of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. On June 5, ECFMG was advised by OFAC officials that it is permitted to engage in verification activities for medical credentials issued in Iran. ECFMG would like to thank all affected physicians and clients for their patience and cooperation while we worked toward positive resolution of this important issue”. See more at: http://bit.ly/1IxiVYL
My 2 Cents:
In most likelihood, the ECFMG was apprised by the OFAC and the US Department of Treasury of the issuance of General License G in 2014 which allows for education and cultural exchange between the USA and Iran. For a summary of the activities allowed under General license G, please also see the blog on General License G. For the PDF copy of General License G: http://1.usa.gov/1Ixjthc
All and all, a story with a happy ending!
The Frustrated Evaluator