Language Proficiency

J1 Regulations Require English Proficiency

Upon being selected to participate in a J1 program at Cornell, you must provide proof of sufficient English language knowledge. The academic department must certify that:

  • "The prospective exchange visitor has the English language skills sufficient to function on a day-to-day basis in the United States." Functioning on a day-to-day basis may be defined as being able to successfully communicate with the local community, such as negotiating with a landlord, explaining symptoms to a physician, understanding emergency instructions by police and/or fire departments, etc.
  • "The prospective exchange visitor has the English language skills sufficient to conduct his/her proposed academic activities (research, teaching, internship, etc.) in the exchange activity environment." The prospective visitor must be able to efficiently communicate and understand the academic concepts in English, including understanding of safety issues/instructions in a lab context.

This regulation impacts incoming J1 visitors; those already present in J1 status and those whose initial DS-2019 forms were issued prior to January 5, 2015 are not required to demonstrate English proficiency at the present time.

Though you must be able to demonstrate this basic proficiency prior to receiving the DS-2019 form, if you would like to increase your English language ability after arriving, several opportunities for English language study exist in Ithaca. Contact the ISSO for more information about the language requirement or local English programs.

Certification of English Proficiency

English proficiency may be demonstrated in one of several ways:

  • Through an objective interview conducted in English
  • By valid test score meeting the following standards: TOEFL (79 or above), CEFR (B1/B2)
  • By documentation (e.g. a letter of certification from an academic institution or English language school)
  • N/A because the exchange visitor is a native speaker of English and/or from a country with English as an official language (see list below)
  • N/A because the exchange visitor received education in a country with English as an official language and the language of instruction in higher education (see list below)

Countries with English as an Official Language and the Language of Instruction in Higher Education

Anguilla Ireland, Northern Singapore
Antigua and Barbuda Ireland, Republic of Solomon Islands
Australia Jamaica South Africa
Bahamas Kenya Swaziland
Barbados Lesotho Tanzania
Belize Liberia Tonga
Bermuda Malawi Trinidad and Tobago
Botswana Malta Turks and Caicos Islands
British Virgin Islands Mauritius Uganda
Cameroon Montserrat United Kingdom
Canada (except Quebec) Namibia Vanuatu
Cayman Islands New Zealand Wales
Dominica Nigeria Zambia
England Papua New Guinea Zimbabwe
Fiji St. Kitts and Nevis  
Gambia St. Lucia  
Ghana St. Vincent and the Grenadines  
Gibraltar Scotland  
Grenada Seychelles  
Guyana Sierra Leone