A Division of the International Studies Office

Health Insurance Requirement for J-1 and J-2

Health Insurance Requirement for J-1 and J-2

As a matter of U.S. law, J-1 and J-2 visa status holders are required to maintain appropriate health insurance for the duration of their J-1 program. Willful failure to carry insurance is considered a violation of your legal status and can result in termination of your program. The U.S. government established minimum levels of health insurance coverage in order to protect exchange visitors and their families from the high cost of health care in the U.S. You are required to submit verification that your coverage meets these requirements when you check in with the ISO. The coverage levels are as follows:

  • $100,000 per accident or illness with a deductible of not more than $500
  • Repatriation of remains, in the event of death, in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses associated with medical evacuation to your home country or to your country of permanent residence in the amount of $50,000.

 Additionally, the insurance company underwriting the policy must have one of the following ratings:

  • An A.M. Best rating of “A-“ or above
  • A McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying Ability rating of “A-“ or above
  • A Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above
  • A Fitch Ratings, Inc of “A-“ or above
  • A Moody’s Investor Services rating of “A3” or above

OR the policy must be backed by the full faith and credit of your home country government.

The University is required to document compliance with these regulations. You will need to upload confirmation from your insurance provider in English that confirms that your policy meets  ALL the stated requirements.

You do not need health insurance in order to apply for a J-1 visa or to receive J-1 status upon admission to the U.S., however you must have insurance coverage effective on the date your J-1 program begins as listed on your DS-2019 form. You are required to maintain health insurance coverage for the duration of your program in order to maintain your legal status during your period of stay.

The J-1 status health insurance requirement includes every J-2 dependent with you in the U.S. Both you (the J-1 visitor) and each of your J-2 dependents must be covered by health insurance as described.

If health insurance will be provided to you by UVA as part of a comprehensive salary and benefits package, the only option that meets the US government requirement is the J-1 Insurance option offered through UVA Benefits. The other options listed for UVA employees have deductible limits that are too high and do NOT meet the U.S. government's health insurance minimum coverage requirements for the J-1 program. UVA's health insurance becomes effective on the 1st of the month. If your start date for your employment is the 1st of the month your insurance begins immediately. If your start date is any other date your insurance does not become effective until the 1st of the month following your joining date. In that case, you will need to obtain short term insurance to cover the period of time until your UVA insurance becomes effective.  

You will need to apply for the social security number as soon as you can after arriving in the U.S. as this number is required by the University for enrollment in the health insurance program. In addition, if you have J-2 dependents with you, be sure they are included in your UVA health insurance plan when you enroll.

Information about health insurance provided by UVA for faculty and research scholars with faculty appointments, (e.g. Research Associates of 6+ months), and their dependents is available here. (Not available to students, or non-salaried appointments).

If health insurance will not be provided to you by UVA as part of a comprehensive salary and benefits package, please secure it before departing for the U.S.  If you are required to purchase your own health insurance in order to satisfy the J-1 regulations, you will be asked to provide evidence in English that you have done this when you attend a New J-1 Scholar Orientation.  

UVA does not endorse a particular health insurance plan. You are free to choose your own health insurance plan. You can purchase any insurance policy that meets these requirements, but your policy must clearly state that all provisions are included. If your policy documentation does not clearly include all provisions in English please bring a letter from your insurance provider that attests all provisions are met. Evidence of appropriate insurance coverage must be documented by the International Studies Office. 

There are many companies that offer insurance that will meet these requirements. We do not endorse any specific company, but the following companies provide plans that will meet the U.S. government requirements:

ISO J1 Exchange Insurance Plan

Gateway Patriot Exchange Program

VISIT International Health Insurance Program


Compass Health Insurance

*The International Studies Office cannot make a specific recommendation on which insurance provider to choose or endorse any of the companies listed above.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) and International Scholars and Students

Program sponsors are required to notify J-1 visa holders that they and their J-2 dependents may be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Details regarding the ACA can be found at http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/rights/index.html, and penalties for lack of coverage can be found at https://www.healthcare.gov/fees-exemptions/fee-for-not-being-covered/.

Who is subject to ACA?

• The answer depends on whether an individual is considered a non-resident or resident for tax purposes.

  Non-residents for tax purposes are not subject to ACA, whereas residents for tax purposes are subject to   ACA.

How do I determine whether or not I am a resident or non-resident for tax purpose?

• An individual’s tax residency status is determined by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service)

• Detailed information on determining tax residency status can also be found here: