Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

Health Insurance for Scholars

Main content start

Health Insurance for Scholars on J-1 Visas

Department of State (DOS) regulations require all J-1 visa holders and their J-2 dependents be covered by medical insurance at all times for the entire duration of their J program. The requirements for this medical insurance are very specific. Many health insurance policies will provide coverage for most of the requirements listed below, but most will not include coverage for two J visa insurance requirements: repatriation and medical evacuation. If this is the case, please buy a “rider” (Betins or Travelex are two companies, for  example, which provide this specialized coverage although not Stanford endorsed) to satisfy this J visa medical insurance requirement for the duration of your stay.

The requirements are:

  • 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* of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000.
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
  • If a particular activity is a part of your Exchange Visitor program, your insurance must cover injuries resulting from your participation in that activity.
  • The policy may establish a waiting period before it covers pre-existing conditions (health problems you had before you bought the insurance), as long as the waiting period is reasonable by current standards in the insurance industry.
  • The policy must be backed by the full faith and credit of your home country government or the company providing the insurance must meet minimum rating requirements established by DOS (an A. M. Best rating of "A-" or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of "A-i" or above, a Standard & Poor's Claims-paying Ability rating of "A-" or above, or a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above).

Note to J-1/J-2 Visa Holders: The Bechtel International Center is obligated, by federal regulations, to cancel the J-1 visa of any J-1 visitor who neglects to obtain and maintain medical insurance that meets J visa requirements for themselves or their J-2 dependents.


Stanford requires all postdocs, regardless of visa status, to be covered by a comprehensive medical plan that is ACA compliant. Stanford Postdoc medical insurance meets this ACA requirement, as well as the J visa requirement for those under J sponsorship. All postdocs under Stanford visa sponsorship are eligible to participate in the Stanford Postdoc Benefit plans.

You can learn about coverage options for you and your dependents on the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs Benefits Page

Visiting Student Researchers

Registered Visiting Student Researchers are automatically enrolled in Cardinal Care (the university sponsored health insurance plan) and must submit a waiver request if they wish to waive enrollment with an alternative health insurance plan that meets minimum waiver requirements. Visiting Student Researchers come on J visas and are subject to the specific J visa health insurance requirements outlined above. All inquiries concerning the waiving of Cardinal Care should be directed to the Insurance and Referrals Office at Vaden Health Center.

More information about enrollment in Cardinal Care for Visiting Student Researchers can be found on the Student Services website

Please note that in addition to purchasing health insurance, Visiting Student Researchers are also required to pay the Campus Health Service Fee

Visiting Scholars

As a visiting scholar on a J-1 visa, you may choose to be covered by insurance plans obtained abroad, or purchase a plan in the U.S. from an U.S. insurance carrier. However, these plans must meet Department of State J visa requirements outlined above.

Visiting scholars are not eligible for Stanford's insurance plans and must obtain their own insurance coverage.

Insurance Information for Dependents

Dependent insurance services offered by Stanford University vary according to the primary visa holder’s Stanford affiliation. Please see the above sections for more information. 

Additional Resources for Finding Health Insurance

Although Bechtel International Center does not endorse any specific insurance plan, these companies offer insurance to international students and scholars: