J-1 Visa: English Proficiency FAQ

J-1 English Proficiency Requirement For J-1 Research Scholars, Professors, & ShortTerm Scholars

About the Requirement

Question: Why does Case Western Reserve University have a J‐1 English proficiency requirement?

Answer: English proficiency for J-1 scholars is a requirement of the Department of State. There is a need for J-1 scholars to have strong English proficiency to function in their positions, as well as to perform daily living activities. Strong English proficiency will increase the possibility of cultural exchange, which is a goal of the J-1 program. Also, in the case of an audit, having J-1 scholars with insufficient English ability could jeopardize CWRU’s entire J-1 program.

Question: Why is there an English proficiency requirement for J-1s and not for H1Bs?

Answer: The J-1 and H1B programs are overseen by different government agencies and each program has its own set of regulations. While English proficiency is not a requirement for H1Bs, we assume that hiring departments are screening H1B employees as they would any new employee to be certain that the employee can perform the job duties. The “Assessing English Proficiency” sheet can be used during an interview with any prospective scholar or employee.

Question: What if the prospective J-1 scholar is a native English speaker or holds a degree from an institution where English is the language of instruction?

Answer: Proof of English proficiency must still be documented. The department may either complete the interview and checklist to document English proficiency or ask the scholar to provide proof of having received a degree from an institution where English is the language of instruction, whichever is most appropriate.

Interview & J-1 English Proficiency Checklist

Question: Who should conduct the interview?

Answer: A native or near-native English speaker should conduct the interview. We recommend that the supervisor conducts the interview, since he/she will be working most closely with the prospective J-1 scholar; however, it may be appropriate to delegate the interview to another department staff or faculty member.

Minimum Requirements

Question: What if the prospective J-1 scholar does not meet the minimum TOEFL score or minimum score on the J-1 English Proficiency Checklist?

Answer: The PI/Department will be advised that the J-1 scholar cannot be sponsored.

Question: What is the J-1 scholar told about the English proficiency requirement?

Answer: Case Western Reserve University has posted information on the website about how strong English proficiency is necessary for an effective J-1 program and has indicated the requirements of the TOEFL/IELTS score or sponsor‐conducted interview. We also encourage the PI/Department to share information about these requirements with the prospective scholars.

Question: What does the department need to indicate about English proficiency?

Answer: The department needs to indicate how English proficiency was assessed on the Recommendation For Appointment of Exchange Visitor (J-1) form. The department can either indicate that an interview was conducted (by attaching the J-1 English Proficiency Checklist) or that official TOEFL scores were sent; a copy of the scores should be attached. If the J-1 scholar is a native English speaker or earned a degree from an institution where English is the language of instruction, the department should supply the appropriate documentation.

J-1 Arrival

Question: What happens once the J-1 scholar arrives?

Answer: The RO/ARO will conduct check-in and orientation procedures to ensure that the scholars are well-informed of their responsibilities to properly maintain their visa status.