Health care in the United States is extremely expensive. Even a minor surgery with a brief hospital stay can end up costing more than $100,000. Please be aware that medical costs could exceed the minimum insurance required. In that case, the exchange visitor is responsible for paying any amount beyond their insurance coverage. We strongly encourage exchange visitors to enroll an insurance program that provides comprehensive coverage that offers more than the minimum coverage.
The U.S. Department of State requires that all participants in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program obtain health insurance, as well as coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains.  It is mandatory that the J-1 Exchange Visitor and all family members in the J-2 Dependent status, obtain the required insurance to be in compliance with J-1 visa regulations.  Failure to do so could result in termination of their J-1 program.
Effective September 1, 2014, all J-1 Visiting Scholars must obtain health insurance coverage through the UCSB Visiting Academic Scholar Injury and Sickness Insurance Plan (VASISP), unless you are eligible for UCSB-Sponsored Postdoctoral insurance benefits, or UCSB-Sponsored Full or Mid-Level insurance benefits.  Please visit the Garnett-Powers website to:
  1. enroll in the insurance program, or
  2. apply for a waiver, if you will provide your own insurance. To be eligible for a waiver, the insurance evidence that you provide must meet the J-1 insurance requirements below. Your evidence of insurance coverage will be evaluated by Garnett-Powers. Please note: any plan which excludes coverage for pre-existing conditions will not meet the requirements. Waivers will not be granted for policies which exclude pre-existing conditions. Your insurance must cover pre-existing conditions (a required waiting period of no more than 1 year is acceptable).

You will need to provide evidence of enrollment in this plan or an approved waiver form from Garnett-Powers to successfully check-in at our office.

These are the health insurance requirements for a J-1 Exchange Visitor program participants and their family members:

  • $100,000 per accident & illness in medical coverage
  • Deductible cannot exceed $500 per accident or illness per occurrence
  • Coinsurance cannot exceed 25%
  • Medical evacuation coverage must be at least $50,000
  • Repatriation coverage must be at least $25,000
  • Must not exclude pre-existing conditions, but may include a waiting period of no longer than 12 months
  • Carrier must be at least A- rated or backed by the full faith and credit of the Exchange Visitor's government.
Insurance companies are assigned a rating based on their ability to pay claims. In order to meet the J-1 requirements, an insurance policy must be underwritten by an insurance corporation with 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.

Alternatively, an exchange visitor may hold a policy that is backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor's home country.

Proof of health insurance is required upon arrival and checking in with UCSB’s Office of International Students and Scholars and when the DS-2019 form is extended.

If an exchange visitor fails to maintain the required health insurance coverage, the university is required to terminate the scholar’s J-1 exchange program. 

OISS wants to emphasize the importance of insurance coverage in general because of the expense of medical care in the U.S.