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J-1 Exchange Visitor – VU

Before completing the Exchange Visitor Application please make sure the Principle Investigator (PI) or hiring/hosting manager has completed the Visa Deemed Export Questionnaire (VDEQ). As of September 1, 2017 this form must be completed online and submitted directly to Vanderbilt Export Compliance (VEC) via the following link:

Once the VDEQ has been completed, please be sure to have the following documents available for upload before submitting the Exchange Visitor Application:

  1. Exchange Visitor’s Personal Information Form
  2. Exchange Visitor’s English Proficiency Documentation
  3. Appointment Letter
  4. J-1 Department Invitation letter – Sample Letter Letter of Invitation
  5. Proof of Financial Support, if prospective Exchange Visitor is not supported entirely by Vanderbilt funds
  6. J-1 Health Insurance Acknowledgment 
  7. J-1 Department Invitation Letter

In addition, if the Exchange Visitor is a transfer they must complete the SEVIS Transfer Form. Transfers include those who are currently in the United States in a J-1 Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) and those wishing to change departments within Vanderbilt.

The requesting department should ensure that both the Exchange Visitor Personal Information and Visa Deemed Export Questionnaire are both complete before completing the Exchange Visitor Application.

If the prospective scholar will be sponsored wholly or in part by non-Vanderbilt funds, a copy of the appointment letter and proof of financial support must be attached.

If the scholar is eligible, ISSS will prepare a Certificate of Eligibility (DS-2019) for the requesting department to mail to the scholar, along with the additional information provided by ISSS. The scholar will then need to take the DS-2019 to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for a J-1 visa and will enter the US in J-1 status.

English Proficiency Requirement

As of January 5, 2015 new regulations require that exchange visitors demonstrate sufficient English language proficiency to successfully participate in this program and to “function on a day-to-day basis” [22CFR62.11(a)(2)].

This requirement can be met in one of three ways for Vanderbilt University Exchange Visitors:

  1. Submitting results of a recognized English language test – TOEFL or IELTS
    • Minimum acceptable TOEFL scores: 550 paper-based test; 213 computer-based test; 79 internet-based test
    • Minimum acceptable IELTS score 6.5
    • Please note that test scores are only valid for two years beyond the test date. Scholars who choose to submit test scores should submit results of a test administered within two years of the J-1 program start date
  2. Submitting signed documentation from an English language school or from the scholar’s current academic institution.
    1. Certification from an English language school confirming the necessary level of English proficiency must be based on completion of a program within two years of the J-1 program start date.
  3. A documented interview conducted in English either in-person or by videoconferencing. ISSS will need to know the following information:
    1. Date of interview
    2. Who conducted interview
    3. How was interview conducted? In-person, Skype, video/web camera, other
    4. Was your candidate able to manage your regular rate of speech? Yes or No
      • If not, did slowing your speech rate impair the focus on meaningful conversation? Yes or No
    5. Did you have to repeat questions, phrases, expressions? Yes or No
      • If so, did repeating yourself impair the focus on meaningful conversation? Yes or No
    6. Did the candidate seem to understand and respond to your actual question(s)? Yes or No
    7. Was the candidate’s pronunciation understandable? Yes or No
      • If not, could you understand enough of what the candidate said to sustain the conversation? Yes or No
    8. Based on your review of the exchange visitor’s English language proficiency do you think the scholar will have any difficulty participating in his/her program at Vanderbilt or functioning on a day-to-day basis? Yes or No

If yes, please explain:

Confirmation of Health Insurance Coverage

US federal law mandates that J-1 Exchange Visitors and J-2 dependents maintain health insurance throughout the duration of their Exchange Visitor program. Because this requirement is included in the rules for maintaining J non-immigrant status, willful failure to maintain health insurance is considered a violation of status. Status violations must be reported to the US Department of State and can result in the termination of your Vanderbilt employment and exchange visitor program activities, among other consequences. For more information –

Incoming J-1 scholars who have been invited by a Vanderbilt University department will need to complete the J-1 Health Insurance Acknowledgment form for incoming Vanderbilt J scholars who are in the DS-2019 application process. This form must be completed before your host department can submit the DS-2019 application to ISSS.

If you will arrive to the US before your university health benefits will be effective, or if you will not be eligible for university health benefits, we strongly recommend that you purchase coverage for your first months prior to arriving in the US. Before making a purchase, review the insurance policy to make sure it meets all of the federal requirements.

Upon arrival to Vanderbilt University you will be required to complete a new J-1 Scholar SEVIS Check-in. During this process you will need to provide proof of your J-1 compliant health insurance coverage and complete the J-1 Exchange Visitor Health Insurance Requirement Pledge. This form must be completed each year during your Exchange Visitor program at Vanderbilt.