Health Insurance Requirements
United States federal law requires all J-1 Exchange Visitors and J-2 Dependents to have accident and sickness health insurance coverage valid for the entire duration of the J-1 program. Their J-1 program duration is determined by the dates listed in section 3 of your DS-2019 form. If they have been in the US for longer than 2 years, then they are likely a tax resident and must have an Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan.
Note: This is a federal regulatory requirement. Not maintaining your health insurance is a violation of your J-1 status.
The willful failure to obtain and maintain insurance that meets U.S. Department of State standards is considered a violation of the regulations and the Exchange Visitor is subject to termination of their J visa status.
Minimum coverage requirements:
|Type of Claim||Requirement|
|Repatriation of Remains||$25,000|
How to Report Insurance Documentation
Continuing Exchange Visitors will update ISSS of insurance coverage in iStart, via the Health Insurance Update e-form.
It is the responsibility of the Exchange Visitor to obtain documentation from their insurer that clearly states the following:
- Name of Exchange Visitor
- Period of coverage (start date – end date)
- Policy coverage
NOTE: The documentation uploaded must clearly show all the U.S. Department of State requirements are being met. This may require the Exchange Visitor to communicate with their insurance provider to obtain an acceptable document.
ISSS is not able to contact an insurer to obtain missing information.
Georgia State Employee Insurance
If the Georgia State employee insurance is not effective on the program start date, Exchange visitors must obtain supplemental insurance to cover the visitor until Georgia State insurance becomes effective.
NOTE: Georgia State employee insurance does not cover medical evacuation and repatriation. Exchange Visitors are responsible for obtaining supplemental insurance to cover these requirements.
It is the responsibility of the J1 Exchange Visitor to research, purchase, and provide acceptable documentation of insurance that meets all U.S. Department of State requirements.
Below is a list of the top 5 insurance providers of J1 Exchange Visitors in the scholar categories for the 2018-2019 FY.
- PGH Global
- International Medical Group
- ISO Insurance
- Seven Corners
- PING AN
A scholar is eligible to apply for an extension of status if:
- They are working towards the original program objective indicated in section 4 of your most recent Form DS-2019,
- They are maintaining your status as a J-1 Exchange Visitor
- They can demonstrate adequate funding for themselves and any J-2 dependents during the period of the proposed extension.
- The J-1 and their J-2 dependents are currently maintaining and will continue to maintain health insurance coverage that meets J visa requirements and
- Their extension will not carry them beyond five years in the United States as a J-1 Visiting Professor or Research Scholar or beyond six months in the United States as a J-1 Short Term Scholar.
At least two weeks before the end date of the current Form DS-2019, the department must initiate and submit the extension request through e-Forms on iStart at istart.gsu.edu. The documents required for an extension request are as follows:
Extension Request Letter from Department
- The Georgia State host department must write a letter supporting the extension request.
- The letter must be on university letterhead and include the following information:
- Dates of the requested extension period (MM/DD/YYYY - MM/DD/YYYY)
- Reasons more time is needed in order to complete the original program objective and why the objective could not be completed within the original period
- Description of the activities in which the J-1 scholar will engage
- Funding/salary to be provided by Georgia State (if applicable)
- If funding/salary provided by Georgia State, the research/academic job title the scholar will hold (ex: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Limited-Term Researcher).
- Please note that temporary professional or classified staff titles are not eligible for J-1 scholar sponsorship.
Proof of Financial Support
Proof of Insurance
Obtain a Valid Travel Signature
In order to obtain a travel validation signature, please go to iStart to access J-1 Scholar Services. The request for Travel Validation will be available under the J-1 Scholars Services section.
J-1 scholars traveling within the United States should carry their original immigration documents with them.
J-1 scholars traveling outside the United States must have all necessary documents for entry into all countries they intend to visit and for re-entry into the United States. For re-entry into the United States, the exchange visitor needs:
- a valid passport
- a valid J-1 visa
- a valid Form DS-2019 with a recent travel validation signature (no older than 6 months) from your Georgia State J-1 advisor
- proof of financial support as indicated on the Form DS-2019
If you are a J-1 scholar who is sponsored by an agency other than Georgia State (for example, Fulbright), a Responsible Officer/advisor from your sponsoring agency must sign your Form DS-2019.
Some exchange visitors traveling to Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island for fewer than 30 days may be eligible for automatic revalidation of their expired J-1 visas; contact the J-1 Scholar Advisor for more details.
“Know Your Rights” at the U.S. Port of Entry
- This document published by the American Civil Liberties Union, contains information about your rights in case you come into contact with law enforcement at the airport or other ports of entry into the U.S. ISSS encourages you to review this information, especially before international travel into the U.S. It contains useful questions and answers, and a list of other resources and referral contacts should you ever need them.
J-1 scholars should NOT accept or engage in employment not authorized on their DS-2019 without first consulting ISSS.
J-1 scholars holding a DS-2019 form from Georgia State may conduct program activities at Georgia State only and only at the Primary Site of Activity listed on their DS-2019 form unless they have requested and received special authorization from ISSS in advance. This includes one-time speaking engagements where payment is tendered.
Circumstances Where Incidental Work Authorization May Be Granted
Although occasional lectures and consultations may be authorized, examples of work that would NOT be authorized are listed below:
- Employment for which the scholar has expertise but does not fall under the purposes of the program (Example: A Spanish-speaking scholar in history, conducting research in the history department, who wishes to be paid to teach Spanish language classes, may not do so because the scholar's program is in the field of history, not Spanish language).
- Any type of on-going employment with an entity outside of Georgia State that could not be considered occasional or short-term.
Procedure to Request Work Authorization for Incidental Employment (Occasional Lectures or Short-term Consultations)
- A letter from the institution that is offering you the employment opportunity. This letter must fully describe the terms and conditions of the offer, including: description of the activity; duration of employment (MM/DD/YYYY - MM/DD/YYYY); number of hours; field or subject of employment; amount of payment or financial compensation; a statement confirming that the J-1 scholar will be paid as an independent contractor for tax purposes
- A letter from the Georgia State host department/faculty, recommending the activity and explaining how it enhances the scholar's program at Georgia State.
The J-1 scholar may NOT engage in employment until written authorization has been provided by International Services.
Transfer Out (from Georgia State to another J-1 sponsor)
J-1 scholars who wish to transfer from Georgia State to another J-1 sponsor may do so as long as:
- The transfer is consistent with the goals of the original program objective at Georgia State
- The J-1 scholar is currently invalid program status
- The transfer will not extend the scholar’s stay beyond the permissible duration for his/her category
- The transfer occurs BEFORE the expiration date on the J-1 scholar’s current DS-2019 form.
If you wish to transfer out of Georgia State to another program sponsor, please complete the Transfer Out e-form in iStart found under J-1 Scholar Services.
Transfer In (coming to Georgia State from another J-1 sponsor)
If you are currently a J-1 scholar at another program/university and you wish to transfer your J-1 sponsorship to Georgia State, please contact your prospective Georgia State host department to initiate the process.
Completion or Withdrawal of J-1 Program
Before the completion of a J1 Exchange Visitor Program, the Exchange Visitor needs to have a plan of action. There are many questions to consider, for example:
- Will I return to my home country once my DS-2019 expires? How long may I remain in the U.S. before I must leave?
- Am I subject to the J1 Repeat Participation Bars?
- Am I subject to the 212 (E): Two-Year Home Residency Requirement?
The information provided below provides information regarding the departure process and important immigration restrictions to consider.
Upon review of the information provided below, an Exchange Visitor should schedule an appointment with the J1 Scholar Advisor to discuss their questions or concerns.
Departure Procedures & Grace Period
The email will direct the recipient to the Scholar Departure e-form in iStart. This e-form will collect necessary information, such as the visitor’s flight itinerary. A survey will also be sent to the Exchange Visitor which provides an opportunity to give feedback on their time at Georgia State.
Upon completion of a J1 program, Exchange Visitors are allowed a 30-day grace period. During this time travel within the U.S. is permitted; however, the Exchange Visitor must depart the U.S. on or before day 30.
NOTE: An Exchange Visitor cannot depart the U.S. and re-enter in J1 visa status during the 30-day grace period following completion of their program.
Repeat Participation Bars
Applies to any Exchange Visitor seeking new J-1 Research Scholar or Professor status and who was physically present in the United States in any J-1 or J-2 status for 6 months or more during the 12-month period immediately preceding the start date of the newly-requested program. The Exchange Visitor is not eligible for the J-1 Professor or Research Scholar categories if this is the case; however, s/he may be eligible for the J-1 Short-Term Scholar category.
Does not apply to participants transferring to Georgia State from another J-1 program or to participants previously in the U.S. in J-1 Short-Term Scholar status. Visitors subject to the 12-month bar cannot begin a new program as a Research Scholar or Professor until 12 months have passed since they were physically present in the U.S. in any J status. However, they may be eligible to come as J-1 Short Term Scholars or on other visa types.
24-Month Bar (22 CFR 62.20(i)(2):
Applies to any J-1 Professor or Research Scholar with previous program completion on or after 11/18/2006. An Exchange Visitor is not eligible for repeat participation as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar for a period of 24 months following completion of a previous Professor or Research Scholar program. The 24-month clock begins on the day following the date on which the individual's previous SEVIS record is made Inactive due to program completion.
Two Year Home Residency Requirement
The two-year home-country residence requirement (212(e)) affects some J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents. Please see the United States Department of State’s website for more information. The information below summarizes some very complex and sensitive issues. It is intended only to help you understand the nature of the requirement, not to serve as a legal reference. Do not assume, from reading this web page, that you are or are not subject to the requirement. Please consult with ISSS if you have questions.
Intent of the Requirement
Terms of the Requirement
- An H, K, L or immigrant visa, or for H, K, L or immigrant status in the United States. An immigrant is the same as a permanent resident or holder of a “green card.”
- A change of your status, inside the United States, from J to any other nonimmigrant classification except A or G.
How You Are Made Subject
- your J-1 participation is or was funded in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of exchange, by your home government or by the United States government
- as a J-1 Exchange Visitor, you are acquiring a skill that is in short supply in your home country, according to the United States government’s Exchange Visitor Master Skills List
- you have participated as a J-1 in a graduate medical education or training program (i.e. a residency, internship, or fellowship) sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates
- you are the J-2 dependent of an Exchange Visitor who is subject to the requirement
- you have ever been subject to the requirement in the past and have neither obtained a waiver nor fulfilled it by spending two years in your home country or country of last legal permanent residence (your previous subjectivity still holds if not fulfilled, even if a more current Form DS-2019 reflects no basis for such a requirement.)
How To Tell If You Are Subject
If you are unsure whether you are subject…
- Consult your Georgia State J-1 advisor in International Student and Scholar Services. Be sure to take your passport, all copies of current and previous Forms DS-2019, your l-94 Departure Record card, and copies of prior l-94 cards if they are available. Your J-1 advisor can often tell from the source of funding, or the Exchange Visitor Skills List, whether the requirement applies or not.
- If you are still uncertain, you might consult an attorney. Make sure that you talk to an immigration specialist, preferably a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. In selecting an attorney a personal recommendation is best, but if none is available, call the local chapter of the American Bar Association for a referral.
- If you prefer not to see a lawyer or are still uncertain, your J-1 Responsible Officer at Georgia State can request an advisory opinion from the U.S. Department of State (USDOS). For more information, please contact ISSS.
Waiver of the Two Year Home Residency Requirement
- Exceptional hardship to your spouse or unmarried minor child who is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. If, for example, you had a child who was born in the United States and was therefore a citizen of this country and if the child had a serious medical condition that could not be treated in your country, you might obtain a waiver because the child would suffer hardship by going there with you to live.
- Fear of persecution on account of race, religion or political opinion
- Interest of a United States government agency (only applies to alien physicians).
- A “no objection” statement from your home country's government. Your country’s embassy in Washington, DC can submit a no-objection statement to the U.S. Department of State through diplomatic channels.
Waiver Request/Approval and J-1 Program Extension
An extension of the J-1 program may be obtained while a waiver request is pending, as long as you are within the maximum period of duration for your J-1 program category. However, if and when you receive a favorable recommendation or approval of the waiver, you are no longer considered by USDOS to be eligible for further extension, although you may complete the current J-1 program period. For this reason, you should time your application after your program has been extended to the maximum time available and while there is still plenty of time remaining in the program in case of delays in the waiver procedures.