Are you an International Medical Graduate who has completed the USMLE examinations? Congratulations! Are you wondering what to do next? Your next step is choosing the best Medical Residency for you. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? There are many options to take in the consideration – where to go, what specialty to choose etc. Choosing the right city for your residency can make a significant impact on your career. Let’s explore the most favorable cities for IMG program that you can choose for a Residency in the United States.

Matching for Residency is not an easy task. It is an uphill battle. As soon as the ERAS application and the Personal Statement are processed, it is time to wonder which residency to choose and where to go for the best program.

An International Medical Graduate is free to Match for Residency in any of the cities on the American soil. With 51 states to choose from, the options are countless. You need to research both the advantages and limitations of each state before making a final decision.

A perfect score on the interview and a stunning application are not sufficient to get into the best program of your choice. Choosing the right residency matters, but what matters most is choosing the right place for the program.

map of the United States with pins in it

Which city to choose?

Best states for IMG residencies

At the end of the Match program, the selection is made based on vacancies available, choice availability, application quality and interview. What no one speaks about is the biased preference for United States Medical Graduates rather than the International Medical Graduates. So, if you want to tackle these barriers, quality research is the best way possible.

According to 2018 NRMP Main Residency Match®: Match Rates by Specialty and State study, the Top 10 US Most Favorable States for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) to Match for Residencies are:

New York 1,384
Florida 529
Michigan 496
Pennsylvania 462
New Jersey 399
Texas 378
Illinois 378
Ohio 341
California 290
Massachusetts 242


Here is also a full list of the states and the total number of International Medical Graduates per state:

State Number of IMGs
Alabama 87
Alaska 1
Arizona 71
Arkansas 66
California 290
Colorado 7
Connecticut 218
Delaware 7
D.C. 116
Florida 529
Georgia 194
Hawaii 23
Idaho 10
Illinois 360
Indiana 44
Iowa 41
Kansas 27
Kentucky 45
Louisiana 153
Maine 9
Maryland 180
Massachusetts 242
Michigan 496
Minnesota 72
Mississippi 35
Missouri 113
Montana 6
Nebraska 51
Nevada 47
New Hampshire 14
New Jersey 399
New Mexico 21
New York 1384
North Carolina 72
North Dakota 27
Ohio 341
Oklahoma 40
Oregon 15
Pennsylvania 462
Puerto Rico 77
Rhode Island 36
South Carolina 20
South Dakota 15
Tennessee 84
Texas 378
Utah 8
Vermont 3
Virginia 115
Washington 22
West Virginia 65
Wisconsin 66
Wyoming 5

Source: 2018 Match Results by State, Specialty, and Applicant Type


Below are the most favorable cities for IMG residencies:


To take admission in a California residency program, you need to provide a Postgraduate Training Authorization letter.  It is known as the California Letter. You also need to have a social security number to take admission in any University in California. The program here is a bit more strict than in other states. Non-resident students can get entry via the J1 or the H-1B visa.

Des Moines:

Des Moines is a city based in the state of Iowa. It is a mid-sized city. The opportunities for IMG students are great here. As Des Moines has the lowest number of physicians per capita, the chances of landing a job are high. It also has the best quality medical practices for IMG students. If you are looking for a calm and peaceful city, then this is the best place for you.


Minneapolis is the home to many famous institutions for IMG students. The economy is developing every year, and the average salary of physicians is higher than average. Minneapolis is renowned for its quality of life. Besides studies, you can also spend time on its beautiful lake during the summer.


Boise, Idaho, is one of the largest cities in the state. It is also one of the cleanest cities in the United States, and people are amiable. Emerging number of immigrants from nearby states is increasing its population making it an excellent opportunity for IMG students as it creates more medical related demands.


Houston is one of the biggest cities in Texas. It has a significant population with a huge demand for good doctors. This city has the most prominent Asian community in this part of the States which makes it suitable for IMG students.  It also provides ample opportunities for International Medical Graduate students with its ever-expanding population. Houston boasts a higher than average physician salary.

Houston city skyline with a cloudline

Houston is one of the best cities for IMGs

Kansas City:

Kansas City is flat terrain with field grains. It could be an excellent opportunity for IMG students to start their practice from. It is known for its quality health care and is really popular among incoming Physicians or IMG students. This place is the least competitive due to fewer crowds. It’s the best choice for IMG students to land a job.


Madison is one of the centers for medical studies and research. It has one of the highest average salaries for a physician in the country. The cost of living is not as high so students can lead a good life. People here are kind and helpful. The only concern is the taxes as they can be quite high.


With the low taxes and low cost of living this city is surely one of the best choices for IMG students. Physicians just starting out can find this place suitable as they can save a lot. It is one of the fastest growing and dynamic cities in the United States. With its population growing, it opens more and more opportunities in the healthcare sector.


Miami is a great place for students looking to relocate with their whole families. The average salary is a bit lower than the country’s average, but the quality of life is higher than average. This place is known for the quality of its medical practices.


Orlando is an excellent choice for IMGs. The regulations are quite similar to Miami. Actually, almost all cities in Florida have the same standards. IELTS is a must for international students to take admission in IMG programs. Orlando is one of the bigger cities in the East, so there are plenty of opportunities.


I hope the above list gave you enough information to choose the right city for your IMG practice. Make sure to visit the places in person before making any decision. Sometimes, it looks good on paper, but in reality, it can be quite different.