In October of 2014, the U.S. Department of State revised Subpart A of the exchange visitor regulations. Changes to the reporting and English language proficiency requirements for exchange programs went into effect on January 5, 2015. Another major change that went into effect on May 15, 2015, involves increases to the required health insurance levels for all exchange visitors coming in on J-1 or J-2 visas. For programs beginning on or after May 15, the following insurance levels will be required:
- medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
- medical evacuation to home country coverage in the amount of $50,000
- repatriation of remains coverage in the amount of $25,000
- deductibles not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
All participants must be covered at these levels by the start of their programs. Full details on the new insurance requirements set forth in the federal regulations is available on the electronic Code of Federal Regulations.
All J-1 exchange visitor sponsors will need to review their current health insurance plans to ensure that the plans meet the new minimum requirements. Sponsors with insurance plans that may not meet these new requirements should take immediate action to ensure continued program compliance related to the insurance requirements.