A Division of the International Studies Office

English Proficiency Requirement

English Proficiency Requirement

One of the stated purposes of the J-1 Exchange Visitor program is to introduce participants to U.S. culture and customs and to ensure that they are able to fully participate in the life of the University and Charlottesville communities. A level of English proficiency that will allow them to communicate on a day to day basis in the U.S. is required. Many departments may require more fluency depending on the program goals and objectives for the individual Exchange Visitor. Documentation of English language proficiency is a U.S. government regulatory requirement in order to issue form DS-2019.

The U.S. government has specified appropriate documentation for this purpose as follows:

  • A recognized English language test

Examples of approved recognized language exams include TOEFL, IELTS or IBD.  Exam results should be no more than 2 years old.  

  • Signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school

If the scholar earned a degree in the U.S. or from an institution whose language of instruction is in English a copy of the diploma or transcript will fulfill this requirement. 

  • A documented interview conducted by the sponsor either in-person or by videoconferencing, or by telephone if videoconferencing is not a viable option.

The supervising faculty can conduct the interview but should ensure that the prospective Exchange Visitor is proficient enough in listening and speaking to function on a day to day basis in the community. The U.S. State Department provides definitions of language proficiency levels that can be helpful in determining whether a potential visitor has an appropriate level of proficiency.

The department is responsible for maintaining a record of the date of the phone or videoconference interview, name of the interviewer, topics addressed during the interview, and duration. Interview attestation must be attached to the J-1 request form.