J-1 Scholars Insurance Requirements and Appointment Timeline Guidance

There is a federally mandated health insurance requirement for all J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents. According to federal regulations, 22 CFR sec. 62.14, all J-1 Exchange Visitors in the U.S. must purchase medical insurance which meets U.S. federal requirements for themselves and their dependents for the duration of their stay. The duration of their stay is defined by the start and end dates of their program in the DS-2019.

  • Paid scholars who receive health insurance through their appointment must document to SHIP the front/back of their insurance card AND submit a qualifying waiver
    • If their J-1 program is extended, they must also go to SHIP and extend the waiver
  • Unpaid scholars must purchase SHIP (Student Health Insurance Plan) insurance for the duration of their program

This requirement is important to account for when drafting appointment letters and determining start dates.

  • For benefits-eligible, paid scholars, it is best practice to start their appointment on the first of the month
  • For unpaid scholars, choose the 15th of the month as start dates and 14th as end dates, to avoid them paying an extra month of SHIP insurance.

Important reminders:

  • SHIP Insurance billing runs from the 15th  of the month to the 14th of the next month
  • If a scholar is outside the US for an extended period of time, they still must comply with the insurance requirement
    • They should communicate with IFSS and their department prior to leaving to be sure they are compliant with their program and able to return to the US
  • If a scholar ends their program early and leaves the US, they must notify IFSS in writing so they can shorten their program
    • Until the program is shortened, they will still have to comply with SHIP insurance
    • IFSS cannot back date the end date after they have left the US
  • If a scholar’s paid appointment qualifies for benefits and starts the first of the month, State Group Health Insurance coverage (SGH) will also start the first of the month so long as their new hire enrollment paperwork is submitted within 30 days of their start date (not the date they enter the US)
    • For example, the start date in HRS and in the appointment letter is May 1 and the scholar enters the US on May 12
      • So long as the enrollment paperwork is completed and turned in by May 30, SGH will still start on May 1
      • Paperwork must be submitted as a new hire and not loss of coverage for this scenario to work
    • They can do eBenefits enrollment while outside the US not more than 7 days before their start date so long as the appointment is already in HRS
      • If the appointment is not in HRS, they will have to submit a paper application