J-1 Visa Insurance Requirement Changes

j1 visa insurance changesAfter waiting nearly 5 years, we finally have clarification on the new health insurance regulations set forth by the US State Department released into the Federal Register the changes to Sub-Part A of the Exchange Visitor Program.

Covering a wide range of areas, the key focus for us was the new insurance requirements for the J1 visa. Having been put in place in 1993, the current levels of $50,000 for medical coverage, $10,000 for evacuation and $7,500 for repatriation was generally perceived as too low – and many in the industry had been calling for higher limits to safeguard participants.

In 2009, when the original comment period was release for sub-part A, the levels were placed at $200,000 for medical, $50,000 for evacuation and $25,000 for repatriation – so it had been widely accepted that these levels would hold true through to the final rule.

However, when the rule was released yesterday, we learned that as of May 15th 2015 the new J1 visa insurance requirements will be:

  1. Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness;
  2. Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000;
  3. Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of exchange visitors to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000; and
  4. Deductibles not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

The other major change to the insurance requirements is the addition of two new rating categories, the ‘‘A-’’ rating by Fitch Ratings, Inc. and the ‘‘A3’’ rating by Moody’s Investor Services will now be accepted with the other rating agencies of AM Best, ISI, Standard and Poor’s and Weiss. Although the rule goes into effect on the 5th January 2015, sponsors have been given a grace period until May 15th 2015 to raise their levels of insurance coverage.

Overall, the insurance changes are a welcomed increase, and the only surprise was that the medical benefit coverage was only $100,000 and not $200,000 as had been widely accepted. For more information about group insurance coverage for J1 participants and sponsors, please visit our site Work and Travel Insurance Services for more information.

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Using the Advanced Responsive Classes of Bootstrap 3.2

Some of the tricker items to handle within a mobile first website are large images or tables, and embedded objects like videos/iframes. The 3.0 version of Bootstrap introduced us to the responsive image and table classes, but did not offer a truly elegant solution for mobile first treatment of embedded content. Thankfully, the 3.2+ version of Bootstrap has a solution for the embedded iframe, and they’ve also tackled some of the sticker issues relating to the .visible-* classes, which we’ll address at the end of this article.

In our previous post on Bootstrap, we took a look at the “img-responsive” class added with 3.0, but didn’t address the responsive table classes, so let’s start there.

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Introducing International Student Hangouts for Schools

If you are like most schools that are looking to increase or diversify your international student population, you have looked at many different ways to reach and recruit them.  You have gotten up early, gotten on an airplane, literally flown to the other side of the world looking for students that are a good fit for your school.  You have done virtual student fairs, listed with portal sites and taken your international social media to a new level.  You have the agents that represent your school on speed dial.  But other than traveling across the globe, how else can you put a face to your school and your recruiting efforts?  We have thought long and hard about that as well. That is why we are pleased to introduce International Student Hangouts.
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Helping International Students Budget for College

482232973One of the biggest challenges any student faces when they go off to college is creating and sticking to a budget. Now, to that add currency fluctuations, unknown living costs, unforeseen circumstances with little support in the host country, and international travel, and it becomes an even more complicated issue.

We work with thousands of international students all trying to navigate their way through the complex web of financing their degree. Sixty-three percent of international students fund the majority of their education out of their own pocket, according to the latest Open Doors Report. In some cases, they are just scraping by. So the question becomes, how can you help your international students when it comes to budgeting?
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Helping Students Understand Insurance

When it comes to insurance, even the most well versed can sometimes struggle with their deductibles, copays, coinsurance, maximum out-of-pocket – and that is all before you start looking at the actual benefits. When you have students accustom to their healthcare system, that uses different health insurance terms, and add a language barrier to that, you have a situation that can be pretty complicated when trying to introduce students to the US healthcare system!
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Back to School Tech 2014

I’ve collected some of the cooler and more interesting tech gadgets that could ease you back into the drudgery of school.

chromecastChromecast – One of the smallest and easiest to use streaming media devices out there. For $35 you get a tiny stick computer that plugs straight into the HDMI port on your TV or Monitor, connect to your WiFi network and then control the device from your cell phone, tablet or computer. You can stream Google’s own movie and music to it, Netflix, HBO’s Go service, Hulu, YouTube and dozens more.
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Hangout with Hiram College – Results from a Google Hangout

On July 30th, 2014, InternationalStudent.com held a Google Hangout with Hiram College. It was hosted by Victoria Troupe from International Student and featured Frank Bowman, the Director for International Recruiting at Hiram College and Jihyuk Yim (Estaban), an international student from Paraguay studying economics at Hiram. During the Hangout, prospective students from around the globe had the chance to learn what it is like to attend Hiram College and then to ask questions to Frank and Estaban, which were answered live during the hangout.

Hangout with Hiram
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New NAFSA Data Reveals International Student, Advisor Disconnect

Cartoon businessman shoulder debt box488222725Thanks to new survey data that made its debut at the recent NAFSA conference there was something more concrete for the assembled academics to talk about than usual. The new data gave clear form to the motivations behind international student retention and what it reveals will alternately confirm and confound the expectations of their advisors.

Same Page

The survey, which asked both students and their advisors about the main sources of dissatisfaction for international students, revealed that both parties cited financial concerns as the most pressing concern. 36% of the international students polled in the survey, for example, cited affordability and another 34% cited the availability of scholarships as their main sources of dissatisfaction. A parallel survey indicates that, by and large, international educators and advisors are on the same page: 64% cited “financial difficulties” as the main reason for student attrition – and, again, the student data seems to bear this out. The student survey separated students by “transfer status”* and found that those who do not plan to transfer were twice as likely to report that institutional aid or scholarships are their two principal sources of funding than are students who plan to transfer.

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Hangouts On Air with multiple presenters

This year we’ve started using Google’s Hangout On Air (HOA) tool to connect to our student visitors and help them find the information that they are looking for. We’ve done Hangouts for finding scholarships, using your contacts to find a job after school, how international student can build credit, choosing the right health insurance plan, among others.

hoa

One of the challenges to doing a HOA with multiple presenters is making the technology easy to use and robust enough to work almost anywhere. We decided that the easiest solution to implement would be to ship a Chromebook computer directly to the remote location, along with a headset, so that the remote presenter only needs to login to Google with our pre-configured account. Other than connecting to the local WiFi network and plugging in the USB microphone, there is almost no other configuration needed on the remote side.

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The Envisage International Video Series has Launched

As promised, the Envisage International video series has launched. Back in June, we blogged about a new video series that we would be starting in July that would be tailored towards best practices for schools that are marketing their institutions and programs online. Since then, we have introduced our first in a series that we hope will serve as a true resource to any school that is currently using online marketing as a recruiting tool or those that are considering it. In our video series, the videos will be produced by us, but will be case studies of how our partner schools are effectively marketing themselves online and will show you how they are following through with their marketing efforts to establish effective campaigns. If done right, an online marketing campaign can be a very effective way to cast a large net across the globe to find the students that are a good fit for your school. However, it takes more than just putting your school on the web.

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