J‐1 English Proficiency Requirement

The WashU Minimum Standards of English Proficiency, Home University English Assessment form, and WashU Department English Assessment form can be found on the ISD welcome page.

The Minimum Standard of English Proficiency for J-1 Scholars

J-1 scholars must have English proficiency corresponding to a 79 on the TOEFL iBT or a 6.5 on the IELTS Academic.

Why Washington University has a J‐1 English proficiency requirement

English proficiency for J‐1 scholars is a requirement of the Department of State. J‐1 scholars need strong English proficiency to function in their positions and perform daily living activities. Strong English proficiency will enable 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 proficiency could jeopardize the University’s entire J‐1 program.

Why there is an English proficiency requirement for J-1s and not H-1Bs

The J‐1 and H‐1B programs are overseen by different government agencies, so each status has its own set of regulations. While English proficiency is not a requirement for H‐1Bs, we assume that departments are screening H‐1B employees as they would any new employee to be certain the employee can perform the job duties (including English proficiency, which is necessary for success in any position). The “Assessing English Proficiency” sheet can be used during an interview with any prospective employee .

If the prospective J-1 scholar is a native English speaker

If the J‐1 scholar is a native English speaker and speaks English at home, the department does not need to complete the interview and checklist or request TOEFL scores.

Who should conduct the interview and complete the J-1 English Proficiency Checklist

We recommend that the supervisor conduct the interview since he/she will be working most closely with the prospective J‐1 scholar. In some cases, it may be appropriate to delegate the interview to another person, such as the visa department administrator.

If the prospective J‐1 scholar does not meet the minimum TOEFL score or minimum score on the J‐1 English Proficiency Checklist

OISS will advise the department that we cannot sponsor a J‐1 for the individual.

What the J‐1 scholar is told about the English proficiency requirement

On the International Scholar Dossier (ISD) welcome page, OISS has stated that strong English proficiency is necessary for an effective J‐1 program and has indicated the requirements of the TOEFL score or sponsor‐conducted interview.

What the department needs to indicate in ISD

The department needs to indicate how English proficiency was assessed in the Appointment tab in ISD. The department can indicate that official TOEFL or IELTS scores were sent. OISS will confirm receipt of TOEFL scores from ETS. Or, if English proficiency was assessed through an interview, attach the Home University English Assessment/WashU Department English Assessment form in the Documents tab.  If the J‐1 scholar is a native English speaker, the department should indicate that in ISD.

What happens when the J‐1 scholar arrives

If the scholar’s English proficiency is insufficient, OISS will follow up with the department to develop a plan for providing English support during the J‐1 program. The scholar must spend the majority of time on J‐1 program objectives; English language classes may only be incidental.