Maintaining lawful nonimmigrant status is your responsibility. The International Offices are available to assist you in understanding your responsibilities if you have any questions.
All J-1 exchange visitors and J-2 dependents are required to have insurance coverage that meets the U.S. Department of State (DOS) J regulations for the duration of their program. The required coverage includes both:
- Health insurance
- Medical Evacuation and Repatriation (MER) insurance
Failure to maintain both types of required insurance can have severe consequences:
- Accrual of unlawful presence and potential 3-year, 10-year, or permanent bars to the United States. **Currently on hold, pending a Judicial decision.
- Termination of your J program, if the failure is willful.
J-1 and J-2 exchange visitors who are residents for tax purposes may be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. 22 CFR 62.14(a)
In order to understand what type of insurance you can obtain through Caltech/JPL, you must first determine whether or not you are eligible for Caltech/JPL benefits. If you are ineligible for coverage, you will need to obtain independent health coverage that meets the DOS J regulations for the duration of your program.
These positions are eligible for Caltech/JPL benefits and health insurance:
- Caltech, faculty, staff, instructors, postdocs, visitors, and visiting associates
- Caltech undergraduate (BS) and graduate (MS and PhD) students currently enrolled or registered.
- JPL regular and TMS hires, JPL postdocs, and Caltech postdocs at JPL
These positions are ineligible for Caltech/JPL benefits and health insurance:
- Caltech visiting student researchers, including SURF and VURP participants
- JPL volunteers, certain JPL postdocs (Hubble, Sagan, Einstein, and Visiting), and Education Office program participants (JVSRP, JPLGF, and JPLYIP)
These Caltech/JPL health insurance plans comply with the J regulations:
- Student health plan
- Anthem HMO plan
- Kaiser HMO plan
- Kaiser WA HMO plan in Washington
Certain Caltech/JPL health insurance plans do not comply with the J regulations. All other Caltech/JPL health insurance plans do not comply with the J regulations. If you work in an area where the Caltech/JPL health insurance plans do not comply with the J insurance regulations, you need to obtain independent insurance coverage.
MER coverage is provided to all J-1 students, scholars, and J-2 dependents who are participants in the Caltech/JPL exchange visitor program for free, by the Institute. MER coverage is provided at no cost, as a benefit of your Caltech/JPL affiliation. Enrollment in a Caltech/JPL health insurance plan is not required in order to be covered by the Caltech/JPL MER plan. You can access more information about the coverage provided by International SOS. The Caltech student health plan includes MER coverage.
Each year, in October or November, benefits-eligible Caltech/JPL individuals participate in Open Enrollment to select insurance coverage and benefits for the upcoming year, effective January 1. This is the time to select a Caltech/JPL health insurance plan that meets the J regulations. For benefits-eligible individuals, enrollment in the Caltech/JPL MER plan is automatic and does not require any selection.
J-1 student exchange visitors and J-2 dependents are required to maintain appropriate health and MER insurance coverage throughout their Academic Training.