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J1 Visa Holders: Do You Need Travel Insurance? 

Traveling to the US on a J1 visa can be an exciting and enriching experience. Whether you are a student, researcher, or cultural exchange participant, it is crucial to consider your health and safety during your stay. One important aspect to address is travel insurance. If you are wondering if J1 visa holders need a travel insurance plan or not, the answer is yes! 

If you are traveling to the US on a J1 or J2 visa, you must carry medical health insurance for the full duration of your program. Many sponsor programs provide both their students and dependents with health insurance, or you must buy an insurance plan from a private insurance provider. You must know that the US Department of State has minimum J1 health insurance requirements that your insurance plan must meet. 

The insurance requirements are: 

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness. 
  • Repatriation of remains of $25,000. 
  • Medical evacuation to the home country of $50,000. 
  • A deductible does not exceed $500 per accident or illness. 
  • A policy is underwritten by an insurance carrier with: 
  1. an A.M. Best rating of ‘‘A-’’ or above; 
  2. or a Standard and Poor’s Claims Paying Ability rating of “A-” or above; 
  3. or an Insurance Solvency International Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-I” or above, 
  4. or a Weiss Research Inc. rating of B+ or above. 

The reasons to carry travel insurance in the US: 

Medical coverage 

While in a foreign country, unexpected medical emergencies can occur. Without proper health insurance coverage, you may be responsible for substantial medical expenses. Travel insurance for J1 visa holders typically provides coverage for medical treatments, hospital stays, doctor visits, and prescription drugs, ensuring you receive the necessary care without incurring exorbitant costs. J1 visa holders must have medical coverage of $100,000  per accident or illness. 

Emergency medical evacuation 

Emergency medical evacuation coverage is a crucial component of travel insurance, particularly for individuals traveling internationally. It provides financial protection and assistance if you require emergency transportation for treatment. The coverage typically includes the cost of air ambulance services, ground ambulance services, or other necessary means of transportation, depending on the situation. 

Covid-19 treatment 

Insurance plans generally provide coverage for COVID-19 treatment, including hospitalization, doctor visits, medications, and other medically necessary services. However, the specific coverage and associated costs may vary based on your insurance plan and its terms and conditions. 

Acute onset of pre-existing conditions coverage 

An acute onset of a pre-existing condition refers to a sudden and unforeseen occurrence or worsening of a pre-existing medical condition. The condition must require immediate medical attention to prevent serious health complications or potential endangerment to your life. Typically, some visitor insurance plans cover acute onset, but the coverage limit can vary depending on the insurance plan. It is essential to review the policy details and definitions. 

Repatriation of remains 

Repatriation of remains coverage is a vital feature of insurance plans, particularly for international travelers or individuals living abroad. It provides financial coverage and assistance in the unfortunate event of a policyholder’s death, covering the costs of returning their remains to their home country. The coverage limit for repatriation of remains can vary depending on the insurance plan. It is important to carefully review the policy. J1 visa holders must carry at least a $25,000 coverage plan for the repatriation of remains. 

Travel assistance services 

Travel insurance often includes travel assistance services, which can be invaluable in unfamiliar surroundings. These services may offer 24/7 access to multilingual support, assistance with locating medical facilities, emergency cash transfers, or help with travel document replacement, providing peace of mind and practical support during your temporary stay. 


Having insurance provides peace of mind, knowing that you have financial protection and access to medical services if the need arises. It allows J1 visa holders to focus on their academic or cultural exchange experiences without worrying about the potential financial consequences of unexpected health events. When buying a plan, consult with your program sponsor or a reputable insurance provider because this can help you navigate the insurance process and select an appropriate policy that meets both the US State’s requirements and your personal needs. 

For more information, contact Visitor Guard®. 

Pallavi Sadekar

Pallavi Sadekar

Travel Insurance Expert

Pallavi Sadekar is a seasoned insurance professional with over 17 years of experience in the industry. As the Head of Operations at Visitor Guard®, she brings a wealth of expertise to the field. With a profound understanding of insurance, Pallavi has consistently demonstrated her commitment to helping clients make informed decisions about their coverage.

Pallavi’s insights and advice has earned her recognition in esteemed publications, including Forbes, USA Today, and various online platforms. Her contributions to these outlets have solidified her reputation as a trusted authority in the insurance domain. Whether it’s navigating the complexities of visitor insurance, finding the right coverage for clients, or understanding the intricacies of visitor health insurance, Pallavi’s in-depth knowledge allows her to offer practical and informed guidance to her clients.


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