When implementing a health insurance policy for international students, visa type should be largely irrelevant. Not only do most visas not require health insurance at all, but the State Department insurance requirements for the J visas are so limited that they should be seen as a baseline only, as adequate plans will all easily exceed these requirements.
Instead of visa status, the focus should be on factors that impact the type and level of insurance that your student population needs, like their duration in the States and family dynamic.
Surprisingly, the F, Q and M visa categories do not require proof of health insurance coverage to obtain a student visa – instead, it is left to the school to determine what insurance requirements (if any) these international students will need to meet. Further details will be provided in the Administering Insurance Plans section, but as a general overview, schools typically handle insurance coverage in one of the following ways:
The US Department of State requires international students (and their dependents) in the J visa category to purchase insurance coverage that meets a list of requirements, and to maintain that policy for the full duration of their J program. During the initial appointment at their local Embassy, these students will need to provide proof of insurance before their visa is granted.
Below is an outline of the main requirements:
Please see Appendix B for the full list of requirements as detailed in the State Department Regulations.
Since all students should have coverage that exceeds these guidelines, and other factors are more important than visa status when selecting coverage, we do not need more analysis or explanation of J visa requirements for purposes of this best practices guide. However, we have several other resources that delve more deeply into the J visa insurance requirements, including the impact of the ACA on various J visa categories, which can be found in Appendix C.