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For J-1 Scholars and Student-Interns

Vanderbilt University adheres to federal law that mandates that J-1 exchange visitors and J-2 dependents maintain health insurance throughout the “J” program. If you willfully fail to maintain health insurance, Vanderbilt must terminate your program and report to the U.S. Department of State. At that time, you will be deemed “out-of-status” and ineligible for extension of stay, employment, or change of status.


An Exchange Visitor (J-1 research scholar, professor, short-term scholar, or specialist) must maintain adequate health insurance coverage for him or herself and for any dependents residing in the United States in J-2 status.  Governmental regulations stipulate that Exchange Visitors who willfully fail to maintain adequate health insurance coverage must be reported to the United States Department of State (US DOS).

All J-1 Exchange Visitors and J-2 visa holders must meet the five insurance policy requirements in the following section. We recommend that you purchase health insurance for yourself, and any dependents who will accompany you, before you depart for the US. You will be required to show proof of adequate health insurance by the end of your second week at Vanderbilt University.

Failure to maintain adequate health insurance coverage is a violation of J-1 status and will result in the loss of employment authorization, extension of stay, change of status, etc.  Health insurance deemed adequate by the Department of State meets or exceeds the benefits listed below. J-1 Exchange Visitors and J-2 dependents must have a health insurance policy that meets or exceeds these benefits.

1. Your insurance must provide lifetime/per-occurrence maximums of no less than $100,000. This is the maximum the insurance will pay over your lifetime and/or for each specific illness or injury.

2. Your insurance must have a deductible of no more than $500 per accident or illness. A deductible is the expense amount paid by you before the insurance will provide coverage.

3. Your insurance must provide $50,000 for medical evacuation to your home country. This is the amount your insurance will pay to send you home for medical treatment on the advice of a doctor.

4. Your insurance must provide $25,000 for repatriation of remains. This is the amount your insurance will pay to send your remains to your home country in the event of death in the U.S.

5. The insurance that you choose that meets the above requirements must at minimum be:
(1) Underwritten by an insurance corporation with an A.M. Best rating of “A-” or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-I” or above, a Standard and Poor’s Claims Paying Ability rating of “A-” or above, or a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above; or

(2) Backed by the full faith and credit of the government of your home country; or

(3) Part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor. (i.e. part of your Vanderbilt University benefits if you are eligible to receive them)

Additional information

The insurance policy may:
(1) Establish a waiting period before it covers pre-existing conditions if the waiting period is reasonable by current industry standards.
(2) May include provisions for co-insurance under the terms of which the exchange visitor may be required to pay up to 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness. Co-insurance is the percentage of expenses for which you are responsible for on a covered service. If your policy includes a co-insurance provision, it must establish that the provider will cover 75% of the covered medical expenses.
(3) Must not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which you will participate.

The insurance must cover the J-1 exchange visitor and accompanying J-2 dependents for the “actual duration of the exchange visitor’s participation in the exchange visitor program. (For exchange visitors who are participating in multiple year programs, the coverage can be purchased annually.)

Prospective J-1 scholars who are applying for a DS-2019 from Vanderbilt should complete the J-1 Health Insurance Acknowledgement.

J-1 Health Insurance Acknowledgment – form for incoming Vanderbilt J scholars who are in the application process

Review your insurance policy to make sure it meets all 5 of the above listed requirements, then complete the J-1 Exchange Visitor Health Insurance Requirement Acknowledgement and Pledge within two weeks of your arrival to Vanderbilt University and then annually.

J-1 Exchange Visitor Health Insurance Requirement Pledge – form for current Vanderbilt J-1 scholars already in the US

Insurance for Vanderbilt Employees

J-1 Exchange Visitors who are in a benefits eligible employee role at Vanderbilt are eligible to enroll in health benefits plans through the university. Currently, none of the employee health benefit plans available through Aetna Health Care are compatible with the J-1 regulations. You can click here to view the Aetna Health Care Plans available.  If you choose to enroll in the Aetna insurance plans, you must purchase an additional policy to meet the minimum insurance standards required for J-1 Exchange Visitors.

Insurance for Exchange Visitors in the US

Vanderbilt University cannot recommend, or endorse any specific health insurance company or policy. A list of health insurance providers can be found by clicking here. Additional options are below:


Medical Evacuation and Repatriation

Some insurance plans meet most of the immigration requirements but do not provide adequate coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains.  None of the insurance plans available to Vanderbilt employees as part of the employee health insurance benefits provide this coverage.  If your preferred insurance does not include these two types of coverage, you can purchase an additional policy for a small cost.  Two available options are listed below.

Harbour Group Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Plan

  • All plans available through this website are specifically for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. The levels available are single, dual, and family. All of these plans have the same level of coverage, but the cost is based on number of people included on the plan.
  • In order to enroll in the above Harbour Group plans, you will be asked to provide the member ID for your main health insurance provider. If you do not have your insurance ID yet, you can enter a “dummy” number, such as 12345.  Please contact Harbour Group later to update with the correct number.

International SOS Scholastic Traveler Plans

  • Review the details of the available plans to see which best suit your needs. Both plans here meet the J-1 requirement.
  • You can get a quote for a plan by providing information on the right side about your length of stay and type of plan you want. This will give you an idea of what you will pay for this plan.