In medical education, a clerkship refers to the practice of medicine by medical students during their later year(s) of study. Traditionally, the first half of medical school trains students in the classroom setting, and the second half takes place in a teaching hospital. Medical clerkships give students experience in all parts of the hospital setting, including the operating room, emergency department and various other departments that allow learning by viewing and doing. The intent of the clinical clerkship is to teach the medical student the fundamentals of clinical examination, evaluation, and care provision, and to enable the student to select the course of further study. Another purpose of the clerkship is for the student to determine if they really want to pursue a career in the field of medicine.  

An Observership program is an informal shadowing experience that enables participants to watch procedures and surgeries and attend patient rounds and teaching conferences. Federal regulations prevent observers from having patient care responsibilities or involvement in any form of volunteer research.

For electives/ observership, the B1 visa is permitted by the State Department. However, remember that this is not always the case. There have been applicants who have been called into second screening during and immigration officers have questioned the validity of this visa class for electives. Be prepared to articulate, explain and show the immigration officer your intend is just for the electives (and you will not receive any remuneration for it). You may state that the State Department website has clearly permitted B1 holders to pursue electives in their FAM manual- the official guidelines to visa classes and process.

NOTEMany immigration officers in the Custom and Border patrol are unaware of this.
The State Department website has the following information regarding the B1/B2 visa
B1: Business associates, travel for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention,
B2: tourism/recreation-non-scientific/business purpose.
The B1/B2 visa is usually issued together but it is advisable to Mention the B1 class when applying.
Important Tips:

  1. the B1/B2 visa class only permits you to stay for six months. Any rotation more than six months is not permitted under the B1/B2 visa class.
  2. All activities must be unpaid and you cannot receive any form of payment or work under this class of visa.
  3. It is advisable to stay less then six months at all times and extensions may be sought but may jeopardize your future travel to US.