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A complete guide to health insurance for students holding J1 Visa 

A complete guide to health insurance for students holding J1 Visa

International students coming to the US on J1 visas must carry health insurance that meets the US State Department. The insurance statute differs for visitors and foreign students coming to the US on J1 visas. Visitors coming to the US for leisure, business, or visiting family may carry health insurance, whereas it is mandatory for J1 students to carry a health insurance plan that meets the State Department’s guidelines. 

What are the State Department’s guidelines? 

  • $100,000 medical benefits per accident or illness 
  • $25,000 for repatriation of remains 
  • $50,000 for medical evacuation of the visitor to their home country 
  • $500 maximum deductible allowed per illness or injury 
  • Plan to be underwritten by an insurance corporation with- 
  1. An A.M. Best rating of “A-” or above,  
  2. Or an Insurance Solvency International Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-I” or above,  
  3. Or a Standard and Poor’s Claims Paying Ability rating of “A-” or above, 
  4. Or a Weiss Research Inc. rating of B+ or above. 

What are J visas? 

The J1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued to visitors who come to the US to participate in cultural exchange programs. These visitors are research scholars, professors, part-time teachers, au-pairs, students, and others. The exchange visitors receive training, gain experience, enrich their skills, and pursue education, which they can make use of after returning to their home country. 

On the other hand, J2 visa holders are the dependents of J1 visa holders. A J2 visa is also a non-immigrant visa issued to the spouses and children of J1 visitors. A J2 visa holder is permitted to work after they file Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with the USCIS. Once approved, they can work. 

What are the categories of J-visas? 

Au pair, camp counselor, government visitor, college or university student, intern, international visitor, physician, professor, research scholar, secondary school student, short-term scholar, specialists, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) students, teacher, trainer, summer work travel are some J-visa categories. 

What is J1 visa insurance? 

J1 visa insurance is designed for J1 visa holders coming to the US for a temporary stay for an exchange program. The insurance plans must meet the requirements of the US Department of State. The plans cover medical expenses, repatriation of remains, medical and political evacuation, acute onset of pre-existing conditions, trip benefits, and more. Insurance keeps the finances safe while the visitors can concentrate on their work, training, and education and build intercultural skills and professional networks. 

J1 visa programs offer cultural and educational exchange opportunities throughout the US. It was established in 1961 under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act. These exchange programs have served an essential role in maintaining and strengthening international ties. 

What is the schedule of benefits of the J1 insurance plan? 

You will receive various medical benefits based on your policy. Most plans cover doctor’s visits/consultations, hospitalization, prescription and drugs, surgical procedures, emergency ambulance, physical therapy, lab, and diagnostic tests. Some health plans also cover dental, AD&D (Accidental Death & Dismemberment), acute onset of a pre-existing condition, and evacuation and repatriation. Many plans with maternity coverage are available only if the J1 requires this coverage. If you wish to purchase maternity coverage for J2, the J1 visa holders need to be included in the plan. 

What other information do you need to know? 

  1. J1 visa applicants must find a sponsor to secure admission to an exchange visitor program. The US Department of State has designated sponsor organizations in various program categories across the country. Once the applicants find a program, they can apply and secure an offer. They will then be issued a DS-2019 form. 
  2. All J1 exchange visitors must be able to speak, understand, read, and write in English. Moreover, the visitors must prove to the US government that they intend to return to their home country after the program finishes. As a part of the evidence, one can show property ownership or investments in their home country or letters from the current employer stating that the employee will resume work in the home country once the training program is finished. 
  3. Some plans can cover maternity for J1 visa holders, while some plans will not. Each plan comes with different eligibility requirements and benefits.  Many plans with maternity coverage are available if the J1 requires this coverage. If you wish to purchase maternity coverage for J2, the J1 visa holders must have the plan. 
  4. If you want your spouse/kids to be eligible for a J2 visa, your program sponsor must approve their accompaniment and issue a DS-2019. The application procedure for a J2 visa is the same as that for a J1 visa. However, the J2 visa holder is not allowed to enter the US before the J1 visa holder arrives. 
  5. Visitors need to provide Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility) issued by the program sponsor, passport, Form DS-156 (Non-Immigrant Visa Application), Form DS-157 (Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application), and Form DS-158 (Contact Information and Work History), photographs, and other supporting documents. Also, they are required to pay a processing fee of $160 for each application. 
  6. The J-1 program sponsor who issued the original Form IAP-66 (Certificate of Eligibility) may extend your J-1 Status by completing a new IAP-66 with the extended expiration date, provided the date falls within the maximum duration period. Also, they must notify the State Department of the change. 


It is evident that without J1 visa insurance, exchange visitors cannot come to the US. The plans offer comprehensive medical coverage to them during their temporary stay. They can get cashless treatment for their eligible medical emergencies, helping them safeguard their finances. As each plan has different coverages, not all plans suit every exchange visitor’s needs. That is why reading the plan’s brochure is important. 

Visitor Guard® has several J visa insurance plans like Patriot Exchange, Study USA, Student Secure, Geoblue Navigator, Atlas America, and Student Health Advantage. Our plans catered to the need of the exchange visitors and meet the US State Department’s guidelines. To know what suits you the best, call us. 

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