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Visa Insurance Requirements in the US

The insurance requirements for international student visas for the USA

International students who study in the US will be required to obtain a visa in order to enter the country and enroll in classes. Every school that admits international students will have a Designated School Officer, also known as a DSO, who can help students navigate the admissions process. Depending on the visa and school, students may be required to obtain international student insurance coverage for their time in the US – which may be enforced and regulated either by the US Department of State or the student’s school.

Types of Visas

In order to enter the US, international students will be required to obtain a visa. There are four main categories of international student visas: F-1, J-1, M-1 and Q1. The type of visa that is given will depend on the type of program, length of study, and purpose for the course. Here is a description of each category and what the insurance requirements are. It is important to understand the insurance regulations that come with that visa, and to verify this with your school directly.

F-1 visas are the most common form of international student visa in the US. F-1 visas are issued to students who are attending an academic or English language program in the US. These students must maintain the minimum course load required for full-time students and are expected to complete their studies by the expiration date on the I-20 form. F-1 students are allowed to maintain part-time on-campus employment. Although there is no health insurance requirement for this visa, most colleges and universities impose a health insurance requirement before the international students can enroll in classes. Learn more on our F-1 visa page.
International students who will attend a non-academic or vocational school should apply for the M-1 visa. Since these students are not permitted to work during the course of their program, they must be able to prove that they have the ability to pay tuition and living costs for the entire period of their stay. Students on a M-1 visa may have insurance requirements that are enforced by their school.
J-1 visas are a very common form of international student visa, typically for students who want practical training or will be arriving to do research. Students on a J-1 visa must meet the US Department of State insurance minimums, and maintain continuous coverage for the length of their stay in the US. Learn more on our J-1 visa page.
Q1 visas allow international students to participate in an international cultural exchange program. This program should provide practical training, employment, and the sharing of one’s culture with people in the US. Applicants for this visa usually won’t have a long wait, as with other visas. It’s important for students on a Q1 visa to check with their program to see whether insurance coverage is required.

Other Insurance Requirements

International students should contact their school to confirm what their insurance requirements are. In addition to the visa and school insurance requirements, it’s also important to check whether or not the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will apply. Most international students are exempt from the ACA and will never have to comply with its requirements.

If an international student will be a “resident alien for tax purposes” – for those with a F visa, this means having lived in the US for more than 5 calendar years – you may be subject to the ACA. For more on this, please check out our more in-depth article on the ACA.

Though US visa insurance requirements can be complex, there are many resources to help international students along the journey. By understanding which visa you should apply for, you will be able to know what the visa insurance requirements will be for your stay.

Best Insurance Plans for the USA

We have a range of insurance plans, however for students studying in the USA the best insurance options are: