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International Visitor Program

Mandatory Health Insurance

In this section:


Mandatory Health Insurance

J-1 Visa holders, as exchange visitors to the United States, must carry health insurance for themselves and all J-2 dependents for the full duration of a J-1 program. A program can be terminated early for failure to carry the appropriate insurance. To comply with regulations, the insurance policy must include the following:

  • A deductible of no more than $500 per accident per illness
  • Minimum benefits of $50,000 per accident or illness
  • $7,500 benefit for repatriation of remains in case of death
  • $10,000 coverage for medical evacuation travel expenses
  • Any waiting periods for pre-existing conditions should be reasonable by current industry standards
  • Policy must be backed by full faith and credit of a home country government or must meet minimum rating requirements established by the US government (an A.M Best rating of “A-” or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-I” or above, a Standard and Poor’s Claims-paying ability rating of “A-” or above, or a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above.
Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-2) Status: Form DS-2019
Program Start and End Dates
30-Day Grace Period
Financial Support - Sufficient Funds
2-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement
24-Month Bar
Mandatory Health Insurance
Required Check In and Validation
10-Day Notice of Any Move
Notification of Changes in Program Sites or Activities
Travel Outside the US During Program
Program Progress Reports
Notification of Departure
Dependents (J-2 Visa Holders)
Employment and Taxes

International Visitors hosted by the US Forest Service are provided with health insurance that meets US Department of State requirements. International Programs provides the exchange visitor with an insurance policy description and identification card upon arrival. As premiums for the insurance are paid by International Programs, program budgets must include funding for this expense. The insurance must be valid for the entire duration of the program.

Research Scholars are often on longer-term programs, some of which might allow for lengthy international trips or stays in their home country in between periods of activity in the US . Like all program participants, they must be covered by insurance for the entire period of their program, even if considerable time will be spent outside the US during the span of the program.

J-2 dependents must also have insurance that meets the minimum requirements. If approval has been obtained and funding demonstrated for dependents to accompany the J-1 program participant (J-1principal), insurance for the dependents must be provided. Relatives visiting international visitors who come to the US on B-2 tourist visas should also obtain some form health or traveler’s insurance which will cover them during their stay in the USA .

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Policy Information and Rates

Please review all policy and coverage information for both plans.

Note: These rates are only available to official participants of the US Forest Service International Visitor Program.

  • Cultural Insurance Services International:
    Clickhere to download Program Brochure & Maximum Coverage

Monthly Premium

(all ages)

Participant and Spouse

Participant and Family




Monthly Premium



Participant & Spouse



Under Age 25





Age 25-34





Age 35-49





Age 50-64





Age 65 & Over





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Frequently Asked Questions

1) Why do international visitors have to carry health insurance?

It is dangerous for international visitors to be in the United States without adequate health insurance. In the United States, individuals, families and visitors are responsible for paying for health care costs themselves. Unlike many other countries where the government provides health care its citizens and sometimes visitors at no cost, the United States has multiple private health care systems, insurance companies and systems of payment. A single day of hospitalization and medical treatment can cost thousands of dollars and many hospitals and doctors refuse to treat or see uninsured patients except in life threatening emergencies. It is extremely important to have valid insurance policies to receive timely and more affordable health care.

2) How does medical insurance work?

When one purchases health “coverage” through an insurance company, the fees paid (the premium) is combined with the premiums of all others to form a large pool of money. The large fund is then used to pay the medical bills of those holding insurance policies who need health care services. An individual’s coverage remains valid only as long as s/he continues to pay insurance premiums. These premiums are usually based on a monthly rate. Also, in many cases, insurance only pays a percentage of the total bill for health care services.

Once a person purchases insurance, the company provides an insurance identification card for use as proof of coverage. Hospitals and doctors’ offices ask for this proof, or card, when a person arrives at their offices seeking healthcare. The company will also provide written instructions for reporting and documenting medical expenses (“filing a claim”). The company will evaluate any claim you file, and make the appropriate payment for coverage under your particular policy. In some cases, the insurance company pays the hospital or doctor directly. In other cases, you pay and the insurance company reimburses you after you have paid the bills and filed a claim.

3) Where can I get more information on insurance?

  • Your J-1 Sponsor or Responsible Officer in the International Programs Office
  • Directly from the Insurance Provider – Refer to the Policy Description of Coverage for contact information


Next Program Regulation: Required Check In and Validation

If you have any questions, please contact:
Brenda Dean, International Visitor Program Coordinator , Responsible Officer
Tel: (202) 219-9774
Fax: (202) 208-0873

Rima Eid, Program Specialist, Alternate Responsible Officer
Tel: (202) 208-3785
Fax: (202) 273-6570


Misty Sidhu, Program Specialist, Tax Specialist Tel: (202) 273-3324 Fax: (202) 273-4750 Email:

Kristin Corcoran, Program Specialist
Tel: (202) 273-4733
Fax: (202) 273-6570


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