Frequently Asked Questions

From application file to IOFF-Subspecialty Fellowship stay

  • Submission of online application and supporting documents
  • Eligibility confirmation through IOFF Executive
  • Candidate chooses and contacts favorite host clinic
  • Host clinic provisionally accepts and sends invitation
  • Application review and ranking
  • Funding decision
  • Submission of requested documents for release of grant
  • Transfer of stipend and IOFF Subspeciality Fellowship commences

When should I start my application? 

  • Refer to the specific fellowship to learn about the fellowship’s application deadline. 
  • It is important to start your application at least 2-3 months before each fellowship deadline. 
  • Please note the required documents.  Some documents, like a letter from your department chair, may take some time to obtain. 

Can I apply for the one-year opportunity and the three-months opportunity at a time?

No, we do not support this. You may apply to both opportunities one after the other, leaving some 1-2 years in between both applications.

How do I know if I am from a low-resource country?

The IOFF uses the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) list of low resource countries as basis. 
Here is the list of eligible countries: low-resource or underserved countries.

I live abroad from my home country (which is a low-resorce country). Can I appply?

Should you live in another low-resource or underserved country you may start your application file.
Should you live in another country, you may get back to us once you are permanently based to live and work in a low-resource or underserved country.

Where do I find the application forms?

For English please go to:
For French please go to:
For Spanish please go to:
For Portugese please go to:

Besides the application forms what additional documents do I need to apply?

  • Scan of the passport showing nationality
  • Candidate‘s picture (portrait)
  • Scan of Specialist in Ophthalmology degree certificate
  • Confirmation issued by present chair that residency training has been completed
  • Recommendation letter issued by present chair
  • Recommendation letter issued by previous chair
  • Recommendation letter from the chair of the voluntary work position
  • Scans of ICO Exams certificates (if any)
  • Postfellowship confirmation (mandatory for candidates who apply for an IOFF-One-Year Subspecialty Fellowship)

File types are limited to: jpg, pdf, doc, docx, and png. There is a 20MB size limit for all uploads.  Please upload your documents into the online application form. All documents should be duly and personally signed and carry the institute’s stamp.
To all documents that are not issued in English language, please include a certified translation into English of the document and provide with the original and the certified translation.

The application requires a country code with my phone number.  What is my country code?

Look up your country code on the following website:

I submitted my application and now some information has changed.  What should I do?

If any information in the application has changed, contact the IOFF-Subspecialty Office at immediately. The office will discuss further steps with you. Failure to inform the IOFF-Subspecialty Fellowship Office of changed contact information may lead to exclusion from the program.

What is the difference between being eligible to apply for a fellowship, and being awarded the Fellowship?

Being eligible for a fellowship means you can proceed with completing your application.
Being awarded the fellowship would only occur after submitting the full fellowship application, related documents incl. a confirmed host notice of acceptance and the IOFF-Subspecialty Fellowship Office approving your application.

What is the next step after being determined eligible?

Now you may choose and contact a host from the IOFF-Fellowship Host Network, please send your application summary together with a letter of intend.

  • You should receive a reply after you have submitted your application summary to the host’s office.
  • Please wait at least two weeks for the host to respond. You may contact the host to follow up, but only after two weeks have passed.  Use the contact information listed in the directory and send the host an email from your personal email account.
  • If the host has still not responded after you have sent one email inquiry about the status of your request, please contact  The IOFF Subspecialty Fellowship Office will confirm if it is okay for you to proceed with applying to a second host.
  • Should the host deny your request, please contct for further instructions. 

Am I allowed to contact more than one host at a time?

In fairness to other candidates we do not allow apply to, or contact, more than one host at the same time.  
Contacting two or more hosts at once is a violation of IOFF policy and may lead to immediate exclusion from the IOFF-Subspecialty Fellowship Program.

Are there any language requirements?

In order to get the most out of your experience, please be sure to acquire basic knowledge of the language of the host country prior to your start date.
It is mandatory that you are reasonably fluent in the language spoken at your training centre. We strongly recommend learning some basic knowledge of the language in the host country so that you can communicate in your daily life outside the host institute.

If I am awarded an IOFF-Subspecialty Fellowship, how do I get a visa?

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the embassy or consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you intend to apply. 
The visa application process may take up to 2-3 months, so you should begin the visa application process at least 2-3 months before you expect to need a visa. Be sure that your fellowship start date is not set too early.  If you cannot begin your fellowship because you did not apply for your visa early enough, you may have to give up your fellowship. A letter confirming the award of fellowships will be sent out to successful applicants.  This letter may be required in the visa application. 

I have been awarded a fellowship, when will the funds be available in my bank account?

After official notice of the fellowship award, the IOFF-Subspecialty Fellowship Office will request information from you, including information about your bank details. Please provide with these details:

  • Account holder’s name and address
  • Account number
  • IBAN
  • Bank’s Name and address

Six weeks before the start date proposed in the host’s notice of acceptance, reconfirm your start date with your host and find out what paperwork may be required before your start (for example, vaccination proof, etc.). Confirm (by emailing that you will take up your fellowship according to schedule.
Please send a scanned copy of your visa, your health and liability insurance certificate and proof of your accommodation in the host city to
At this time, the IOFF Office can wire the grant funds to you.
Please confirm with us (by emailing when you have received the funds in your bank account.

How much is the grant for an the IOFF-Three–Month Subspecialty
Fellowship and what does it cover?

US$ 6.000 (maximum) or 5.000 EUR to help cover travel and living expenses for three months.  The exact amount is subject to actual student-style living expenses in the host country. Fellows can spend their grant as needed. An increase of the grant is not possible. Additional expenses will be covered by the fellow’s own means.

How much is the grant for an the IOFF-One Year Subspecialty Fellowship and what does it cover?

US$ 25.000 resp. US$ 30.000 to help cover travel and living expenses for one year. Fellows can spend their grant as needed. An increase of the grant is not possible. Additional expenses will be covered by the fellow’s own means.

Can I apply for an IOFF-Subspecialty Fellowship award to add up my salary from paid job (e. g. a fellowship position)?

No, this is not possible. IOFF-Subspecialty Fellowship positions are unpaid.
An application for an unfunded IOFF-Subspecialty Fellowship is possible.

Where will I stay during my fellowship?

Fellows must arrange their own housing.  The host’s office may be able to provide you with a list of accommodation options or advice about where to look on the internet. You may also conduct your own internet search. The IOFF-Subspecialty Fellowship Office cannot help you organize your accommodations in the host country.

Does the fellowship provide health insurance or liability insurance? Is it required?

No, the IOFF-Subspecialty Fellowship Office or the Host institute cannot offer health or liability insurance.  The program does require that you have health and liability insurance coverage and will ask for verification of coverage.

I cannot begin my fellowship as planned. What should I do?

The IOFF-Subspecialty Fellowship Office approves of changes in schedule (e. g. postponement of the fellowship) only in exceptional and very well-founded cases. If you cannot begin your fellowship because you did not apply for your visa early enough, you may be excluded from the program.
If you cannot take up your fellowship, you must contact the IOFF-Subspecialty Fellowship Office and your host immediately and give an explanation about why you cannot take up your fellowship. The IOFF Office will discuss further steps with you.
The Fellowship cannot be postponed for more than 9 months after the initial proposed start date from the host notice of acceptance.

Should you have any other questions or concerns, don’t hesitate and contact

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