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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Starting your application

  1. How do I apply?
  2. How do I find a host? Which departments offer ICO Fellowships?
  3. The host I would like to select is not listed in the Directory.  What can I do?
  4. When should I start my application?  When is the application deadline?
  5. How do I know if I am from a developing country?
  6. What documents do I need to apply?
  7. The application requires a country code with my phone number.  What is my country code?
  8. I submitted my application and now some information has changed.  What should I do?

Evaluation of your application

  1. What is the difference between being eligible to apply for a fellowship, and being awarded the Fellowship?
  2. I have received an official notice that I did not pass the eligibility check. What does this mean?
  3. After being notified of eligibility, I have completed my application. How will I know if I have been accepted?
  4. What happens after I submit the host application letter?  May I contact more than one host to find out about vacancies?
  5. I have received an official notice of acceptance from the host.  What happens next?
  6. I received a notice of denial from the host, what happens next?

Questions about the ICO Fellowships Program

  1. If I am awarded a fellowship, how do I get a visa?
  2. Are there any language requirements?
  3. I have been awarded a fellowship, when will the funds be available in my bank account?
  4. Where will I stay during my fellowship?
  5. Does the fellowship provide health insurance or liability insurance? Is it required?
  6. I cannot begin my fellowship as planned. What should I do?

Applying for the ICO-Three Month Fellowship

  1. Am I eligible for the ICO Three-Month Fellowship? What are the application requirements?
  2. What documents are required to apply for the ICO Three-Month Fellowship?
  3. I applied for the ICO Three-Month Fellowship last year and received an official notice of denial.  May I reapply?
  4. In what subspecialties does the ICO-Three Month Fellowship offer training?
  5. How many ICO Three-Month Fellowships are awarded each year?
  6. If I am awarded an ICO Three-Month Fellowship, when does my fellowship start?
  7. How long are the ICO Three-Month Fellowships? What does the grant cover?

Applying for the one-year ICO-Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowship

  1. Am I eligible for the ICO-Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowship? What are the application requirements?
  2. What documents are required to apply for the ICO-Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowship?
  3. I applied for the ICO-Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowship last year and received an official notice of denial.  May I reapply?
  4. In what subspecialties does the ICO-Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowship offer training?
  5. How many ICO-Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowships are awarded each year?
  6. If I am awarded an ICO-Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowship, when does my fellowship start?
  7. How long are ICO-Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowships? What does the grant cover?

Applying for the ICO-Fred Hollows Foundation One-Year Subspecialty Fellowship

  1. Am I eligible for the ICO-Fred Hollows Foundation One-Year Subspecialty Fellowship? What are the application requirements?
  2. What documents are required to apply for the ICO-Fred Hollows Foundation One–Year Subspecialty Fellowship?
  3. I applied for the ICO-Fred Hollows Foundation One-Year Subspecialty Fellowship last year and received an official notice of denial. May I reapply?
  4. In what subspecialties does the ICO-Fred Hollows Foundation One-Year Subspecialty Fellowship offer training?
  5. How many ICO-Fred Hollows Foundation One-Year Subspecialty Fellowships are awarded each year?
  6. If I am awarded an ICO-Fred Hollows Foundation One-Year Subspecialty Fellowship, when does my fellowship start?
  7. How long are ICO–Fred Hollows Foundation One-Year Subspecialty Fellowship? What does the grant cover?

How do I apply?

Apply for the ICO Three-Month Fellowship through the online application.  The application steps are listed below.

  • You will need to create an ICO Account if you do not already have one.
  • Applications in progress may be saved and closed. To return to your application in progress, log in to your ICO Account.
  • Please be sure to check the eligibility requirements for the specific fellowship for which you are applying.
  • Apply for a Fellowship. Get started…

Application Steps:

1. Select a Fellowship:

  • When you begin your online application, you will be required to identify your home country.  
  • After identifying your country, the ICO Fellowship(s) you are eligible for will be shown.

2. Complete Eligibility Check:

  • The Eligibility Check is a part of the online application. You will be asked to provide information to determine if you are eligible to receive the ICO Fellowship you selected.
  • As part of the Eligibility Check, you will be required to upload the following documents:

3. ICO Eligibility Review:

  • After submitting all the required information on the Eligibility Check page:
    • You should receive an email confirming your Eligibility Check was successfully submitted. If you do not receive this within one business day, please contact fellowship@icoph.org.
    • You will receive an email that confirms or rejects your eligibility for the selected fellowship within 10 days.
    • If eligible, you should return to your application in progress by logging into your ICO account.
    • If you are not eligible, you may contact fellowship@icoph.org for more details.

4. Apply to a Host Training Center:

  • If you are found eligible for the fellowship to which you applied, you will select and apply to a host using the online system. 
  • The Host Training Center section of the online application lists hosts by Name, Medical Center, Subspecialty, Country, and City. 
  • Select the host that best meets your goals and interests.  Click on the “Select Host” option under “View Host Details.” 
  • Fill out the online form and submit it.
  • It is recommended that you use this form to explain to the host the reasons why you should be selected and your plans for the knowledge you gain during the fellowship.
  • Applicants may not fulfill fellowships in their home countries.
  • Contacting two or more hosts at the same time is a violation of ICO policy and may lead to immediate exclusion from the ICO Fellowship Program.

5. Host Application Review:

  • Your request will be reviewed by the host you have selected.
  • If you do not hear from your host, you must wait two weeks before contacting him or her.  After two weeks, you may inquire about the status of your request.
  • If the host accepts your request, you will need to confirm details like the fellowship start date, subspecialty, supervisor name, and email.
  • Complete the Host Notice of Acceptance form and forward to the host with a request for their confirmation signature
  • If your request is declined, please contact the Fellowships Executive to return to the application to select another host.

6. Fellowship Application Submitted:

Apply for a Fellowship. Get started…

How do I find a host? Which departments offer ICO Fellowships?

  • If you are found eligible for the fellowship to which you applied, you will select and apply to a host using the online system.
    • The Host Training Center section of the online application lists hosts by Name, Medical Center, Subspecialty, Country, and City. 
    • Select the host that best meets your goals and interests.  Click on the “Select Host” option under “View Host Details.” 
    • Fill out the online form and submit it.
    • It is recommended that you use this form to explain to the host the reasons why you should be selected and your plans for the knowledge you will gain during the fellowship.
  • Applicants may not fulfill fellowships in their home countries.
  • Contacting two or more hosts at the same time is a violation of ICO policy and may lead to immediate exclusion from the ICO Fellowship Program.

The host I would like to select is not listed in the Directory.  What can I do?

Please select a host from the ICO Directory.

If you are applying for a One-Year ICO-Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowship, you may select a host outside of the ICO Directory. Contact the Fellowships Executive at fellowship@icoph.org to see if your desired host is acceptable.

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. 
  • The ICO Fellowship Committee strongly recommends starting the visa application process as early as possible.   The Committee is not able to advise fellows in the pursuit of visas.  You will need to research the type of visa and application requirements for your destination country.  The Committee will provide successful applicants with a letter confirming the fellowship award.
  • Details on the timeline of the application are outlined in How do I apply?

How do I know if I am from a developing country?

The ICO uses the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) list of developing countries. Please refer to the following list: www.icoph.org/downloads/ICO-Fellowships-Developing-Countries.pdf.

What documents do I need to apply?

Please see Fellowship Application Documents or refer to the FAQ for the fellowship to which you would like to apply. 

Uploaded file types are limited to: jpg, pdf, doc, docx, and png.  There is a 20MB size limit for all uploads.  Zip files are not allowed.

If you are awarded a fellowship, the Fellowships Executive (fellowship@icoph.org) will request a copy of your visa and verification of your health and liability insurance coverage.  The Executive will also request your banking information so that wire transfers can be correctly routed to your account.

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

Look up your country code on the following website: www.howtocallabroad.com/codes.html

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

If any information in the application has changed, contact the ICO Fellowship Committee  (fellowship@icoph.org) immediately. The Executive will discuss further steps with you.

Failure to inform the ICO Fellowship Committee of changed contact information will 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 and required documents and the ICO Fellowship Board approving your application.

If you are eligible to apply, you must then select a host through the online application system and complete the application before the published deadline.

I have received an official notice that I did not pass the eligibility check. What does this mean?

This notice means that you do not meet the basic requirements for the fellowship to which you applied.  If you meet the eligibility requirements by the next application deadline, you may resubmit the eligibility check.

Please contact fellowship@icoph.org if you would like the specific details regarding your eligibility determination.

After being notified of eligibility, I have completed my application. How will I know if I have been accepted?  

Applicants are notified by email. Please refer to the specific fellowship for the notification dates.

If your application has been evaluated and rejected, you will receive an official notice of denial. The Fellowship Committee’s decision is confidential, final, and non-negotiable. ICO Three-Month Fellowships and One-Year ICO-Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowships are competitive and fellowship funding cannot support all the qualified candidates who apply.

If your application has been evaluated and awarded, you will receive an official notice of acceptance. You will receive further instructions and guidance via email. Please be sure your visa is being processed.  It is important that your visa is ready when your fellowship start date arrives.

What happens after I submit the Host Application Letter?  May I contact more than one host to find out about vacancies?

  • You should receive a confirmation email after you have submitted the Host Application form.
  • 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 fellowship@icoph.org.  The Fellowship Executive will confirm if it is okay for you to proceed with applying to a second host. 
  • Do not apply to, or contact, more than one host at the same time.  
  • Contacting two or more hosts at once is a violation of ICO policy and may lead to immediate exclusion from the ICO Fellowship Program.

I received a notice of acceptance from the host, what happens next?

  • If the host is able to accommodate your request, you will receive an automated notice in your personal email account. 
  • Log in to your application and complete the online form.  The form requires confirmation of the fellowship start date, subspecialty, and your supervisor’s name and email.  You may need to contact the host for this information.
  • You should receive a confirmation email that your application is complete and is being reviewed. If you do not receive this within one day please contact fellowship@icoph.org.
  • You may request that the host also fills out and sends you a Notice of Acceptance. It is part of your application file.

I received a notice of denial from the host, what happens next?

  • If the host is not able to accommodate your request, you will receive a notice of denial in your personal email account. 
  • Contact the Fellowship Executive before applying to a new host. Then log in to your application, go back to Step 4 of the application, and apply to a new host training center. 

If I am awarded a 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. 

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 center.

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

After official notice of the fellowship award, the Fellowship Executive (fellowship@icoph.org) will request information from you, including information about your bank details.

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 fellowship@icoph.org) that you will take up your fellowship according to schedule.

Please send a scanned copy of your visa and your health and liability insurance certificate to fellowship@icoph.org.

At this time, the ICO can wire the grant funds to you. Please confirm with us (by emailing fellowship@icoph.org) when you have received the funds in your bank account.

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 ICO Fellowship Committee cannot help you organize your accommodations in the host country.

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

No, the ICO Fellowships Program is not able to 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 ICO Fellowship Committee 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 ICO Fellowship Committee (fellowship@icoph.org) and your host immediately and give an expanation about why you cannot take up your fellowship. The Executive will discuss further steps with you.

Am I eligible for the ICO Three-Month Fellowship? What are the application requirements?

Application requirements are as follows:

  • Residency training must be completed before applying for the fellowship.
  • Specialist Exam (Master of Surgery, Diploma of National Board etc.) in Ophthalmology must be successfully passed. The certificate must be in English or French.
  • Applicant must be from a developing country. Please refer to the following list: www.icoph.org/downloads/ICO-Fellowships-Developing-Countries.pdf.
  • Applicant must be under 40 years of age at the time of applying.
  • Applicant must return to home country after the training, resume previous positions, and apply the knowledge gained during the fellowship.
  • Applicant must be reasonably fluent in the language of the fellowship training center.
  • Applicants who have passed the ICO Basic Science, the ICO Clinical Sciences, or the ICO Advanced Examinations for Ophthalmologists (www.icoexams.org) will receive special consideration.
  • Applicants from countries with ophthalmologic societies that are Members of the ICO will receive special consideration.

What documents are required to apply for the ICO Three-Month Fellowship?

**Note:  Uploaded file types are limited to: jpg, pdf, doc, docx, and png.  There is a 20MB size limit for all uploads.  Zip files are not allowed.

I applied for the ICO Three-Month Fellowship last year and received an official notice of denial.  May I reapply?

No. If an application has been processed and is rejected, the candidate receives an official letter of denial and cannot reapply. 

In what subspecialties does the ICO Three-Month Fellowship offer training?

The ICO Three-Month Fellowship offers training in the following subspecialties:

  • General Ophthalmology
  • Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus
  • Uveitis
  • Glaucoma
  • Cornea & External Diseases
    (no Refractive Surgery)
  • Medical Retina
  • Vitreo-Retinal Surgery
  • Oculoplastics
  • Cataract Surgery
  • Ocular Oncology
  • Neuro-Ophthalmology
  • Ocular Pathology
  • Community Eye Health
  • Trauma

How many ICO Three-Month Fellowships are awarded each year?

Approximately 60 three-month fellowships are awarded each year.

If I am awarded an ICO Three-Month Fellowship, when does my fellowship start?

  • For applications submitted by the 31 March deadline, the fellowship is awarded and notices are sent out in July.   The earliest start date is 1 October of the same year.  This allows the fellow to ensure they have the required documents (such as a visa) and have made appropriate housing and work arrangements.
  • For applications submitted by the 30 September deadline, the fellowship is awarded and notices are sent out in January of the following year.  The earliest start date is 1 April. This allows the fellow to ensure they have the required documents (such as a visa) and have made appropriate housing and work arrangements.

How long are the ICO Three–Month Fellowships? What does the grant cover?

  • US$6000 (maximum) to cover travel and living expenses for three months.  The exact amount is subject to actual student-style living expenses in the host country. 
  • Fellows are expected to return to their home country after three months of training to apply what they learned. The candidate’s return to his or her home country must be guaranteed.

Am I eligible for the ICO – Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowship? What are the application requirements?

  • Applicant must be from a developing country. Please refer to the following list: www.icoph.org/downloads/ICO-Fellowships-Developing-Countries.pdf.
  • Applicant must be under 40 years of age at the time of applying.
  • Applicant must be a graduate of an ophthalmology residency training program.
  • Applicant must be recommended by the ophthalmology head of a teaching institution or public service hospital in a developing country. Present Chair's Recommendation (DOC: 80 KB)
  • Applicant must be accepted for ophthalmology subspecialty fellowship, one year in duration, at an advanced ophthalmology training center. Host Notice of Acceptance (DOC: 5 MB)
  • Applicant must be reasonably fluent in the language of the fellowship training center.
  • Applicant must be committed to return to a position at a teaching institution or public service hospital in the fellow's home country.
  • Candidates who have passed the ICO Examinations in Basic Science, Optics, or Clinical Sciences will receive special consideration. However, passage of the ICO Examinations is not a requirement for application.
  • Applicants from countries with ophthalmologic societies that are Members of the ICO will receive special consideration.

What documents are required to apply for the ICO – Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowship?

  • Scanned copy of passport
  • Confirmation of completion of ophthalmology residency
  • Letter of Recommendation (DOC file: 80 KB) by the ophthalmology head at teaching institution or a public service hospital documenting your training and surgical experience, and potential benefits of fellowship to home country
  • Letter of Confirmation of Post-Fellowship Position (DOC file: 80 KB) at a teaching institution or public service hospital

**Note:  Uploaded file types are limited to: jpg, pdf, doc, docx, and png.  There is a 20MB size limit for all uploads.  Zip files are not allowed.

I applied for the ICO – Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowship last year and received an official notice of denial.  May I reapply?

Yes, applicants may reapply if their previous application was rejected.

In what subspecialties does the ICO – Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowship offer training?

This fellowship is open for training in any ophthalmology subspecialty.

How many ICO – Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowships are awarded each year?

Two ICO – Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowships are awarded each year.

If I am awarded an ICO – Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowship, when does my fellowship start?

  • For applications submitted by the 30 September application deadline, applicants are notified by 30 November
  • of the same year. The fellowship is to commence anytime within 15 months after award notification.

How long are ICO – Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowships? What does the grant cover?

  • The fellowship is one-year long. The fellowship award is US$25,000 to cover round trip travel, living expenses, health coverage, liability coverage, and professional expenses.  The fellowship must commence within 15 months after award notification.

Am I eligible for the ICO–Fred Hollows Foundation One–Year Subspecialty Fellowship? What are the application requirements?

  • Applicant must reside in a developing country. Please refer to the following list:www.icoph.org/downloads/ICO-Fellowships-Developing-Countries.pdf.
  • Applicant must be under 40 years of age at the time of applying.
  • He or she must be a graduate of an ophthalmology residency training program.
  • Specialist exam in ophthalmology must be successfully passed.
  • He or she must be recommended by the ophthalmology head of a teaching institution or public service hospital in a developing country. Present Chair's Recommendation (DOC: 80 KB)
  • He or she must be accepted for ophthalmology subspecialty fellowship, one year in duration, at an advanced ophthalmology training center.
  • Applicant must be reasonably fluent in the language of the fellowship training center.
  • He or she must be committed to return to a position at a teaching institution or public service hospital in the fellow's home country.
  • Candidates who have passed the ICO Examinations in Basic Science, Optics, or Clinical Sciences will receive special consideration.
  • Applicants from countries with ophthalmologic societies that are Members of the ICO will receive special consideration.

What documents are required to apply for the ICO–Fred Hollows Foundation One–Year Subspecialty Fellowship?

**Note: Uploaded file types are limited to: jpg, pdf, doc, docx, and png. There is a 20MB size limit for all uploads. Zip files are not allowed.

I applied for the ICO–Fred Hollows Foundation One–Year Subspecialty Fellowship last year and received an official notice of denial. May I reapply?

Applicants may reapply if their previous application was rejected. Note that the ICO Fellowship Committee will assume the applicant's qualifications have significantly improved since last applying.

In what subspecialties does the ICO–Fred Hollows Foundation One–Year Subspecialty Fellowship offer training?

Any subspecialties offered by a designated ICO Fellowship Training Center. Once you have been found eligible for this fellowship, you will be able to select the subspecialty, host, and country through the online application system.

How many ICO–Fred Hollows Foundation One–Year Subspecialty Fellowships are awarded each year?

Two fellowships will be awarded each year.

If I am awarded an ICO–Fred Hollows Foundation One–Year Subspecialty Fellowship, when does my fellowship start?

Fellowships commence the year following application. For example, a successful 2013 applicant will begin his or her fellowship after January 2014.

How long are ICO–Fred Hollows Foundation One–Year Subspecialty Fellowship? What does the grant cover?

US$24,000 for one year to cover round-trip travel, living expenses, and professional expenses for one year.

 

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