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Certification for Internationally Trained Ophthalmologists in the U.S.

The American Board of Ophthalmology is now accepting applications from qualified internationally trained ophthalmologists (ITOs) who are currently practicing in the United States and wish to become board certified. (Graduates of accredited United States and Canadian residency training programs should apply for board certification using the process outlined on the requirements page.)


Applicants for the ITO program must:

  • Have a current valid and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States for a minimum of five (5) consecutive years (since January 1, 2015). A license that permits practice only at a specific academic institution is not considered “unrestricted” for the purposes of this pathway. 
  • Have been practicing in the United States for a minimum of five (5) consecutive years (since January 1, 2015).
  • Have a certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).
  • Be in active practice in ophthalmology and have surgical privileges.
Not sure if you qualify? Click here to determine your preliminary eligibility.


Application for admission into the official ITO program requires:

  • Submission of the online application form and materials, including: contact/biographical information, medical school education, post-graduate ophthalmology training, fellowship training, list of all current active and unrestricted medical license(s), ECFMG certificate, attestation of ophthalmic practice, documentation of surgical privileges, peer letters of recommendation, personal statement, copy of CV, attestation & agreement
  • $1,000 application fee (nonrefundable)

Upon review and approval of these materials, participants must then qualify to take the 2021 ABO Written Qualifying Examination (WQE) before the WQE registration deadline of July 1, 2021 by completing the following activities:

  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills: Completion of the Patient Experience of Care (PEC) Survey.
  • Practice-Based Learning and Improvement: Participation in an ABO-designated activity designed to promote quality improvement.
  • Systems-Based Practice: Participate in an ABO-designated activity designed to promote patient safety.

Applicants who successfully complete these requirements must then pass both the WQE and the Oral Examination in order to become Diplomates of the American Board of Ophthalmology and earn a 10-year, time-limited certificate.

Please read and review the complete program policy for details before beginning the application process.


The cost for participation in the ITO Program is $1,000 plus the then-current costs of the Written Qualifying Examination and Oral Examination. The $1,000 application fee is nonrefundable. A payment link is provided below.

Links and Downloads


If you have questions about this program, please contact Christine Frieberg, Physician Services Coordinator, at or call (610) 664-1175.