Overview for J-1 Students

A J-1 student visa allows you to participate in study-based exchange programs in the United States. If you are studying in a language and/or academic program at WSU on a J-1 visa, you must comply with regulations of the U.S. Department of State, as well as university requirements.

If you have any questions or concerns, or need to contact us about your personal status regarding this issue, please email us at ip.intlservices@wsu.edu.

Students who are citizens of China: Please note

A Presidential Proclamation issued in June 2020 suspended entry into the United States only of graduate students and researchers from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) who hold an F- or J-visa and whose study, research, or OPT arrangement contributes to the PRC’s “military-civil fusion strategy.” Undergraduate students are exempt, as well as “any alien who is studying or conducting research in a field involving information that would not contribute to the PRC’s military-civil fusion strategy.” The proclamation will remain in effect until terminated by the president.
  • If you are a citizen of China and a new student planning to join WSU, this Proclamation will affect you only if you are pursuing a graduate program AND are deemed to be associated with the PRC “military-civil fusion strategy.” Processing of your F- or J-visa stamp at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in China may be delayed until this determination can be made. Please notify us if you experience or expect to experience any delay of your arrival on campus.
  • If you are a citizen of China and a current WSU student or engaged in post-completion OPT, it will affect you only if you are pursuing a graduate degree AND/OR are deemed to be associated with the PRC “military-civil fusion strategy” by the U.S. Secretary of State, at the Secretary’s discretion. You will receive a formal notification if you are determined to be in this situation. Please notify us of any communication you receive in this regard.

Enrollment requirements

J-1 students are required to maintain full-time student status.

In certain situations, you can request to drop below a full course load. (For instance, you are in your last semester before graduation, or working on a dissertation, or have a qualifying emergency.)

Inform WSU of any change in program

J-1 Status

Your Form DS-2019 must accurately reflect your current status as a student. You are responsible for keeping it up to date. If you change your academic program in any way, please let WSU know.

Your DS-2019 will need to be changed and updated if you anticipate any of the following:

  • Change of major
  • Graduating from your academic program
  • Change of level (e.g., from undergraduate to graduate study)
  • Extending your J-1 immigration status
  • Dropping below full-time enrollment
  • Canceling enrollment
  • Traveling outside the United States

Check the detailed status requirements to be sure you follow proper procedure and meet U.S. government requirements.


If you will be traveling outside the United States while your J-1 visa is in effect, you will need to follow certain procedures.

Change of address

If you move to a new local residence, you must update your address within 10 days of your move. Your new address will be sent to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security automatically via the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Medical insurance

WSU will automatically enroll you in its international Student Health Insurance Program (iSHIP), but you will need to purchase separate coverage for anyone else who comes with you.

Minimum coverage requirements

Below are insurance requirements for international students and families. Each accompanying dependent must be covered by insurance in the same amounts.

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Medical evacuation $50,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness

Policy requirements

To ensure reliability, the policy you choose should meet 1 of the following requirements:

  • Underwritten by an insurance corporation having 1 of the following ratings:
    • M. Best rating of “A-“or above
    • Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-I”’ or above
    • Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying Ability rating of “A-“or above
    • Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above
    • Other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify
  • Backed by the full faith and credit of the government of your home country
  • Part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor
  • Offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or eligible Competitive Medical Plan (CMP) as determined by the Health Care Financing Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Acceptable provisions

Waiting period for pre-existing conditions: If required, it should be reasonable relative to current industry standards.

Co-insurance:  You may be required to pay up to 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness.

Unacceptable provisions

The policy shall not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which you participate.

Finding the policy that is right for you

Evaluate different insurance products to find one that best suits your circumstances. Consider factors such as:

  • If you are married or single
  • Whether you participate in sports activities that might raise your risk of injury
  • If you need maternity coverage

The following companies offer insurance products that meet or exceed the Department of State J exchange program minimum requirements for medical insurance. This is a partial list of companies and products and is provided only as a starting point. It is not an endorsement of any company or product.

Take the medical insurance requirement seriously

Willfully failing to maintain required insurance coverage is a violation of the law. Your participation in the exchange visitor program could be terminated as a consequence.


If you have questions about the insurance requirement, contact an advisor in International Programs International Student and Scholar Services.


For quick questions, stop by Bryan Hall Room 206 during open-advising hours or join us via Zoom during open-advising hours, Monday-Friday, 1-3 p.m.

To schedule an appointment for personal advising, call 509-335-4508. No same-day appointments are available unless there is an emergency.

International student portal

The Washington State University Office of International Programs International Student and Scholar Services now offers many of its services online. International students can conveniently request new I-20s/DS-2019s, reduced course loads, Optional Practical Training, visa support letters, and many more services through myPassport. Students may still meet in person by appointment or by coming in during open-advising hours of 1-3 p.m. Monday through Friday in Bryan Hall 206.

Please check in at the front desk to meet with an advisor. The last check-in to meet with an advisor is 2:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Email advisories

The Office of International Programs will email you important reminders and immigration updates on Fridays throughout the academic year. If you are not receiving these messages, please contact International Student and Scholar Services department at ip.intlservices@wsu.edu to verify your correct email address.

Health care services

WSU Cougar Health Services provides low-cost medical services for minor illnesses and injuries. The clinic is located in the Washington Building on Stadium Way.

Extracurricular activities

Get involved through volunteer opportunities, cultural sharing, and student government and organizations.