Health Insurance Requirements

Cornell University requires that you have a medical insurance policy protecting you and your family in the event of a major illness or injury. US Government regulations also mandate that all exchange visitors (J1 visa holders) and their dependents (J2) must have health and accident insurance in order to participate in Cornell's Exchange Visitor Program. In addition, federal regulations prohibit an extension of your J1 status beyond the dates on the DS-2019 form without proof that you have maintained insurance for yourself and all family members during your entire length of stay in the US as an exchange visitor. Students/Scholars and their families may substitute a comparable external insurance plan for the Cornell plan, if it meets the minimum coverage requirements outlined below.

Minimum Level of Insurance Coverage Required

  • medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • expenses associated with the medical evacuation to home country in the amount of $50,000
  • a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness

The insurance must cover the Exchange Visitor for the period beginning with the program start date and ending with the program end date; in other words, the full duration of the J1 program.

Insurance policies secured to fulfill the requirement:

  • May require a waiting period for pre-existing conditions
  • May include provisions requiring the exchange visitor to pay up to 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness ("co-insurance").
  • Must not reasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program

Exchange visitors and their dependents also may be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

Upon arrival, J1 exchange visitors will be asked to show proof of insurance and/or to attest that they are covered by insurance meeting the requirements set forth in the regulations. Exchange visitors who willfully fail to comply with the insurance requirements, or who make "material misrepresentations" of their compliance with the regulations will be subject to the termination of their J1 program.

For complete information on the insurance requirements, please read the relevant section of the regulation, (22 CFR 62.14). Please contact the ISSO if you have insurance questions or need clarification about this policy. Those who have, or will obtain, health insurance through Cornell should contact the Benefits Office with any questions about their insurance plan.

Please note: In the United States certain kinds of elective medical care, such as eyeglasses or dentistry are ordinarily NOT covered by insurance and can be very expensive. Exchange Visitors should take care of those needs before leaving home.

J1 Staff members: J1 Staff members: Cornell has a medical insurance plan that most exchange visitors (not all) with academic appointments for a semester or longer may join. Eligibility depends on the conditions of your appointment. Contact Benefit Services, Office of Human Resources (130 Day Hall) for further information. You are required to make alternative plans to ensure required coverage for your entire visit if Cornell does not provide insurance for you. The ISSO cannot endorse or recommend any private health insurance plan. We recommend that you do a web search which includes, "health insurance plans for J1 exchange visitors."

Students: All Cornell students are automatically charged for insurance on their Bursar's bill. The annual cost is not included in tuition, assistantships, or fellowships.

Arrangements for family insurance can be made at the insurance office in Gannett Health Center. Family members must enroll within 30 days of arrival in the US, or they will NOT be eligible to enroll. Please note verification of date of arrival to the US may be required.