New changes to J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

Dec. 1, 2014—The US State Department recently announced regulatory changes to its J-1 Exchange Visitor Program that will go into effect January 5, 2015 (with the exception of the new health insurance requirements that will be implemented in May 2015).

To make this transition easier, ISSS is offering several open forums in the coming weeks for J-1 students, scholars, and hosting departments to go over the changes and share the new processes that will be implemented. Please check your email for the invitation. 

Here’s how those changes will affect Emory’s J-1 students and scholars, as well as hosting departments:

English language proficiency

Under the new regulations, the State Department requires that J-1 sponsors verify that J-1 exchange visitors have sufficient English fluency to:

  1. Perform their J-1 activities or complete their academic program;

  2. Navigate daily life in the US;

  3. Read and comprehend program materials;

  4. Understand fully their responsibilities, rights, and protections; and

  5. Know how to get help if needed.

The State Department allows 3 options to verify English language proficiency:

  1. A recognized English language test (TOEFL or IELTS);

  2. Signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school (download template letter); or

  3. A documented interview by Emory’s hosting department with the J-1 exchange visitor, either in person or by videoconference
    (evaluation template for scholars | evaluation template for students)

New J-1 students will be able to upload a copy of their test score or other documentation through ISSS Link as part of the DS-2019 request. If a new student chooses to take the TOEFL, the minimum score varies by school.

For new J-1 scholars, the hosting department at Emory will be able to upload this documentation as part of the J-1 Program Funding Details e-form in ISSS Link. This documentation will be a required part of any J-1 scholar request submitted on or after December 15, 2014. If a new scholar chooses to take an English language test, these are the minimum scores:

TOEFL (paper) TOEFL (internet) TOEFL (computer) IELTS Pearson
550 79 213 6 59

Handling DS-2019s

Duplicate DS-2019s
Under the new regulations, Emory is not permitted to make copies of or email DS-2019s, even to the J-1 exchange visitor.

Loss or theft of DS-2019s
If a DS-2019 is lost or stolen, log in to ISSS Link and submit a DS-2019 Replacement Request within 10 calendar days. 

Unused DS-2019s
If Emory issues a DS-2019 to a student or scholar who later decides not to come to Emory for whatever reason, they should mail the original DS-2019 back to ISSS.

New reporting requirements for J-2 dependents

ISSS will email all Emory’s J-1 students and scholars a new e-form to collect J-2 dependents’ contact information, such as email addresses, phone numbers, and residential addresses (if not living with the J-1).

Please remember that if any J-1 or J-2 contact information changes, those changes should be reported to ISSS within 10 calendar days. Updating your contact information >>

In addition, if a J-2 dependent leaves the US before the end date on their DS-2019, the J-1 exchange visitor should report their departure using the new Dependent Departure/Removal e-form in ISSS Link within 10 calendar days. 

Sites of activity

The new regulations put greater emphasis on timely, accurate reporting of J-1 sites of activity. Please refer to the J-1’s DS-2019 for the approved site of activity. If there are any changes or additions, they will need to be approved by ISSS in advance. If approved, ISSS will issue an updated DS-2019.

To get ISSS approval, a J-1 student or scholar should email their ISSS advisor with the name and address of their proposed site of activity before any change takes place.

In rare circumstances, a J-1 scholar might conduct their program activities at a non-Emory site but still under the supervision of an Emory faculty member. More info on other sites of activity >>

Health insurance requirements

Effective May 15, 2015

Health insurance for J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents must now meet new State Department requirements (see below).


Current requirements

New requirements (effective 5/15/15)

Medical benefits



Repatriation of remains



Medical evacuation



Deductible per accident or illness




ISSS is currently working with offices across campus to ensure that health insurance offered to students and employees meets these new State Department requirements by May 2015. We will provide more detailed information shortly.