English Language Proficiency Requirement

A J-1 exchange visitor's success in his/her particular program is dependent upon sufficient English language capability. Adequate English communication skills are essential to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of exchange visitors.

All J-1 applicants must possess sufficient English proficiency not only to participate in their academic program activities but also to live and function in the United States. Exchange visitors must be sufficiently proficient in English in order to do the following:

  • Navigate daily life in the United States (e.g. grocery shopping, renting an apartment, banking, transportation)
  • Be able to seek help when necessary (e.g. medical attention, police intervention)
  • Perform J-1 program activities in the academic/laboratory environment
  • Read and comprehend information regarding maintaining J-1 status and complying with J-1 program requirements
  • Understand his/her rights, responsibilities and protections as a visitor in the United States

US government regulations require all J-1 program sponsors to verify English proficiency for all prospective J-1 exchange visitors through objective measures. Sponsors are required to retain detailed documentation indicating how English proficiency was verified for each Exchange Visitor. At MUSC, the sponsoring MUSC department is responsible for verifying the English proficiency of J-1 applicants and providing documentation to the Center for Global Health during the J-1 sponsorship application process.

At MUSC, there are currently two acceptable methods to verify the English language proficiency of a J-1 exchange visitor applicant:

  1. A documented interview to assess English proficiency conducted by the sponsoring department; or
  2. Signed documentation from an academic institution to verify one of the following
    • The applicant currently teaches courses in English at his/her home institution or has taught coursework in English within the past 10 years
    • The applicant completed an undergraduate or graduate degree within the past 10 years from an institution where English was the primary language of instruction

In most cases, option 1 (English proficiency interview) is the method used to verify English proficiency for J-1 applicants. The sponsoring MUSC department must designate a person in the department to conduct the English proficiency interview other than the proposed faculty supervisor. In other words, the proposed faculty supervisor for the exchange visitor cannot be the person to conduct the English proficiency interview. After the English proficiency interview is conducted, the sponsoring MUSC department must complete a form that will be submitted along with other J-1 sponsorship application materials.