International studies open doors to multiple excellent opportunities in different areas. The US has become a global hub for students to explore different sectors of industry and earn a degree. Whether it is scientific research or learning ballet, the country gives equal opportunities to everyone. Students coming to the US can be on different visas like J1/J2, F1/F2, M1/M2, and more. However, before applying for any visa category, students must be accepted by a US institution that is SEVP (Student Exchange and Visitor Program) certified.
Let us understand more about the visa and the insurance involved:
J-visas are exchange visas meant for individuals who want to participate in exchange programs. The first step is to apply for and be accepted into an exchange visitor program through a designated sponsoring organization in the US. The exchange visitor category includes au pairs, camp counselors, government visitors, interns, physicians, international visitors, professors or research scholars, student/college/university, summer work travelers, trainees, short-term scholars, teachers, trainees, and more.
A J-1 visa is a short-term, non-immigrant visa the USA issues for international visitors. J2 visa holders are the dependents of J1 visa holders. It is a non-immigrant visa issued by the US to the spouses and children of J1 exchange visitors. Once students get accepted into exchange programs, they will be registered for the SEVP (Student Exchange and Visitor Program) and must pay the I-901 fee.
The US Department of State has a set of minimum insurance requirements for J-visa holders (J1 and J2). These are:
- $100,000 medical benefits per accident or illness
- $25,000 for repatriation of remains
- $50,000 for medical evacuation of the visitor to their home country
- $500 maximumdeductible allowed per illness or injury
- Plan to be underwritten by an insurance corporation with-
- An A.M. Best rating of “A-” or above,
- Or an Insurance Solvency International Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-I” or above,
- Or a Standard and Poor’s Claims Paying Ability rating of “A-” or above,
- Or a Weiss Research Inc. rating of B+ or above.
There can be more requirements from school, university, or work. It is recommended to check if they have any.
F and M visas
These are student visas required for students to study in the US. Students on F visas can enter the US to attend university/college, high school, private elementary college, seminary, conservatory, language training program, and others. Students on M visas can enter the US to attend vocational or other non-academic training other than a language training program. Schools will send Form I-20 once students have entered their information in the SEVIS database.
Students on F or M visas must buy insurance based on the institution’s insurance requirements, or else they will not be enrolled in classes. There are no State Department rules for these students to meet insurance requirements. Most schools offer their own insurance policies, though students can always opt for an outside health insurance policy if allowed. Students can buy a plan from outside, i.e., from a private insurance company, and then submit the completed waiver form to the school., F1 students get the work permit for OPT (Optional Practical Training) Program if they have completed or have been pursuing their degrees for one academic year. Under the OPT program, they may get part or full-time employment up to 12 months before or after graduation if it is related to their area of study.
When working on an OPT, employers can provide health coverage. In that case, students need not buy a separate plan. However, if employer-based health coverage is not available, OPT students must buy an insurance plan from outside that can protect them during this time.
It is not a surprise that the US attracts students from all parts of the world. The country welcomes and offers equal opportunities based on students’ merits. Therefore, it has become one of the prime destinations to pursue education. However, one cannot ignore the fact that the medical costs here can put them in severe financial debt and force students to return to their home country or country of residence, which is why a robust insurance policy is always recommended.
No matter which visa a student carries, they must buy a plan from the institution or outside using the waiver option. Students can find many insurance policies online, but those policies must meet the school’s or US State Department’s insurance requirements. To know more about these plans, contact an insurance agency.