Health Insurance Requirements

US Government regulations mandate that all exchange visitors (J1 visa holders) and their dependents (J2) have health and accident insurance in order to participate in Cornell's Exchange Visitor Program. In addition, federal regulations prohibit an extension of J1 status beyond the dates on the DS-2019 form without insurance for yourself and family members. 

Cornell has a health insurance plan that many international scholars with academic appointments may join. Eligibility depends on the conditions of your appointment. Please check with your university department’s human resources or hiring manager. Additional information can also be found at Cornell's Benefits website. Those who have, or will obtain, health insurance through Cornell should contact the Benefits Office with any questions about their insurance plan. If you do not qualify for Cornell insurance, Cornell has negotiated an excellent plan with GeoBlue that exceeds the Department of State minimum requirements, is accepted by Ithaca area medical providers, and covers preexisting conditions. We strongly recommend use of the GeoBlue plan.

We cannot recommend other plans or guarantee that they will be accepted by Ithaca area providers, but the following companies offer insurance plans that minimally satisfy Department of State requirements. Note that although many target insurance services for international students, these companies also offer plans for J exchange visitors (scholars):

·        Betins International Health and Travel Insurance (

·        Compass Student Insurance (

·        Cultural Insurance Services international (

·        Insubuy (

·        International Student Protection (

·        International Student Insurance (

·        Visit International health Insurance (

It is important to remember that 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 may wish to consider taking care of dental and eye needs before leaving home.

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 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 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). 

Note for 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 student 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.