UAB is, in the Department of State parlance, an “exchange visitor sponsor.” We pay a fee every two years and certify to the Department of State that we follow all regulations governing the privilege of being allowed to generate Form DS-2019 for an exchange visitor to apply for a visa and enter the US. Failure to follow the Department of State regulations can result in the revocation of UAB’s designation as a J-1 exchange visitor sponsor and the end of being able to host J-1 exchange visitors at UAB.

We cannot issue a Form DS-2019 without documentation that the exchange visitor has both a minimum level of English proficiency and a minimum level of insurance coverage. The department is not responsible for providing ISSS with this documentation—the exchange visitor is.

  • English Proficiency Verification

    Department of State regulations at 22 CFR 62.10(a)(2) require documentation of English proficiency sufficient to “function on a day-to-day basis in the [academic] environment.” Proficiency must be “determined by an objective measurement of English language proficiency.” Exchange visitors who are native English speakers or residents/citizens of a country where English is an official language are of course exempt from this requirement.

    For the safety and quality of experience for both the exchange visitor and the wider UAB community, ISSS cannot rely solely on subjective English proficiency determinations derived from interviews by the UAB supervisor or faculty member who is inviting the exchange visitor.

    The Department of State’s concern is that “good English communication skills are essential to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of exchange visitors. Moreover, the Department continues to find that too many exchange visitors lack sufficient English proficiency to perform their jobs or complete their academic programs; to navigate daily life in the United States; to read and comprehend program materials; to understand fully their responsibilities, rights, and protections; and to know how to obtain assistance, if necessary.” - State Department rule 10/06/2014

    Acceptable methods of English verification for J-1 purposes at UAB are:

    • Proof of graduation from a four-year institution where the curriculum was conducted in English
    • Signed documentation from an English language school confirming oral and reading comprehension proficiency
    • Evidence of passing a recognized English language exam, such as the TOEFL (minimum iBT of 77), IETLS (minimum 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 on each section), or PTEA (minimum 51)
    • Passing score on UAB's J-1 Visiting Scholar English Language Proficiency Test (EPT)
  • Health Insurance Requirements

    Department of State regulations require exchange visitors to be enrolled in health insurance that meets certain statutory minimums. Even if your exchange visitor will be a postdoc, or otherwise covered by UAB health insurance after employee orientation or an open enrollment period, the visitor still must provide ISSS with proof of insurance coverage for the first month of time in the US. All exchange visitors are informed of this before they arrive. All exchange visitors must have insurance coverage from the moment they set foot in the US.