Visiting Scholars & Postdocs Services

Health and Welfare Benefits for International Visiting Scholars

Please note: The weekly health insurance meetings for international exchange visitors at the Tang Center have been discontinued. The health insurance advisor will be available to answer questions at the mandatory Berkeley International Office Scholar Information Meetings held at the International House.

University Health Services - Tang Center Visiting Scholars and their spouses can use the Tang Center for health care services on a fee-for-service basis (with some limitations). Payment is due at the time of service. For more information, view this link. To learn about University Health Services - Tang Center, see this link.
Definition of Visiting Scholar See the Visiting Scholar Definition.
Overview of Insurance Requirement EFFECTIVE 12/1/2015: All domestic and international scholars whose appointment dates are on or after 12/1/2015 are required to show proof of medical coverage that meets specified benefit levels.

1. US State Department Requirement:

All international non-immigrant Exchange Visitors at UC Berkeley with J-1 visas (visiting scholars and visiting student researchers, collectively, "scholars") are required to have health insurance that meets the US State Department J visa health insurance requirement (see below for a summary). The health insurance must be in effect for the entire duration of their stay in the United States. This requirement also applies to all accompanying J-2 dependents (spouses and/or children).

2. UC Berkeley Requirements:

UC Berkeley policy requires both domestic and international scholars to have health insurance meeting specified benefit criteria. This policy took effect on December 1, 2015. It is now mandatory that international J-1 visa exchange visitors have health insurance that meets both the J visa requirement and the new UC Berkeley policy, which is stricter in two respects:

  • Coinsurance cannot exceed 25%
  • Pre-existing conditions must be covered with a waiting period no longer than 12 months
Because UC Berkeley's policy regarding medical coverage is stricter, it takes precedence over the J visa requirements. To ensure that all scholars have health insurance meeting all requirements, scholars can enroll in the UC Berkeley Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan (UCBVSBP), which is managed by Garnett-Powers & Associates ("GPA"). The UC Berkeley-sponsored health insurance plan is specifically designed to meet both the J visa and UC Berkeley policy requirements.
US Department of State J Visa Health Insurance Requirements

These guidelines meet the U.S. Department of State regulations for J-1 visa holders in effect as of 10/7/99

Each J visa exchange visitor must have health insurance with minimum coverage described below. The health insurance plan must meet all of the following coverage requirements established by the US Department of State and required by UC Berkeley:
  1. Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness.
  2. Deductible no greater than $500 per accident or illness.
  3. $50,000 minimum coverage for expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country.
  4. $25,000 minimum coverage for expenses associated with repatriation of remains to exchange visitor's home country.
  5. Policy must be underwritten by an insurance corporation meeting the US Department of State rating requirements or backed by the full faith and credit of the visitor's home country government, designated sponsor, or exchange visitor's employee group plan.

Cost of US Health Care: Health care in the US is very expensive, and many US healthcare providers will not bill international insurance companies. We recommend that you have a readily available income source (such as a credit card with a high spending limit) to pay for treatment of accidents, illnesses or preexisting conditions. Be prepared to pay for any and all medical services and to be responsible for submitting claims to the insurance company for reimbursement.

US Government Programs: Scholars can contact Wells Fargo for assistance with finding plans they may be eligible for. Wells Fargo can provide personalized assistance to help make an informed decision on a health plan. There is no fee for using their services. Please call them at 1-800-853-5899 or email them at

Coverage Options All scholars must provide proof of insurance that meets all of these requirements or purchase an alternate insurance plan that meets these guidelines within 31 days of arrival at UC Berkeley.

The UC Berkeley Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan (UCBVSBP) is underwritten by UnitedHealthcare and IMG, leading US health insurance companies, and is managed by Garnett-Powers & Associates. See policy information and rates here.

NOTE: Scholars must complete an enrollment form to purchase the UC Berkeley Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan or waive (opt out of) enrollment. Detailed instructions are found here. If the scholar chooses to waive the UCBVSBP, he or she must provide written proof of policy benefits in English, with coverage limits converted to US dollars. The scholar may also complete a Certificate of Health Insurance Coverage to accompany policy documents.

Preferred Provider Organization ("PPO") Plans The UCBVSBP is a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan. In a PPO plan, the insurance company contracts with specific groups ("networks") of health care providers (doctors, hospitals and other medical facilities) to offer services at a reduced cost. Using PPO "network" providers saves patients money. Services received from providers that are not part of the PPO network are more expensive to the patient because the services are reimbursed at a lower rate. See Health Insurance Terms and How U.S. Insurance Works.
Eligibility for Enrollment All domestic and J-1 visa international visiting scholars and visiting student researchers are eligible to enroll in the UCBVSBP. Scholars may only enroll in the UCBVSBP within 31 days of first arrival at UC Berkeley. After that time period, the scholar must purchase other insurance and provide proof of coverage by completing the online enrollment form to opt out of the UCBVSBP.

The UCBVSBP is available to scholars' dependents provided the J-2 dependents enroll within 31 days of their first arrival in the US. J-2 dependents cannot enroll in the plan unless the J-1 scholar is also enrolled.

UC Berkeley Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan

Scholars have the option to choose from three different health insurance plans that meet the insurance requirements. The three health insurance plan options vary in price and in the benefits that are offered. For details on coverage information or to enroll, please visit the Garnett-Powers & Associates website here.  If you have any questions about the new plans or new insurance requirements, please contact Garnett-Powers and Associates via telephone at 888-441-3719 or via email at

Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Insurance All J visa holders must have insurance coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. If your health insurance policy does not cover these provisions, you may purchase a policy through the University. The policy is available for download here.
Additional Health and Welfare Services See Additional Health and Welfare Services for Visiting Scholars & Postdocs.

For all questions, please call Garnett-Powers & Associates at (888) 441-3719 or email Scholars can also contact Sam Castaneda at 510-643-9681.

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