J-1 English Proficiency Requirement

For J-1 Research Scholars, Professors, & Short-Term Scholars

In order for Case Western Reserve University to sponsor a J-1 visa for an individual, the individual must possess sufficient English language skills to enable them to successfully participate in the J-1 program and to function independently in the community (i.e., banking in the U.S., grocery shopping, understanding a lease agreement, meeting people). English proficiency is a requirement of the Department of State.

The English proficiency requirement can be met in one of the following two ways:

  • The individual may submit TOEFL iBT or IELTS scores with a minimum score of 79 or 6.5, respectively. The test must be administered within two years of the J-1 program start date. Official scores must be sent to the VISA Office. If an individual wants to use an alternative test, the VISA Office must be consulted in order to determine equivalent scores.
  • The sponsoring department may conduct an interview with the individual (in-person or by video conference (Skype, Zoom, or similar) and complete the J-1 English Proficiency Checklist. The completed checklist must be provided to the VISA Office for review.

If a department chooses to conduct an interview, please refer to the Assessing English Proficiency sheet for suggestions.

Please note: These are minimum standards for J-1 sponsorship at Case Western Reserve University. If a PI/Department feels that the University’s minimum score requirement is too low, the PI/Department has the flexibility to set higher minimum score requirements. If scholars will act as supervisors, have teaching duties, or work in situations where safety is paramount, the expectation is that the PI/Department will require proof of earning either a higher TOEFL/IELTS score that is more in alignment with the standards for admission set forth by the School of Graduate Studies- 90 for the TOEFL iBT or 7.0 for the IELTS- or a higher J-1 English Proficiency Checklist score- 15 (of 18). The PI/Department will be charged with ensuring that these higher standards are met and documented upon submitting the material required to generate the scholar’s DS-2019.


For additional guidance, please contact the Visa Office at 216-368-6964 or visa@case.edu.

View the J-1 English Proficiency Requirement FAQs.