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UC Merced International

English Proficiency Requirement

J-1 English Proficiency Requirement


Beginning January 2015, the U.S. Department of State will be implementing new English language proficiency requirements. The new guidelines are as follows: 

"The exchange visitor possesses sufficient proficiency in the English language, as determined by an objective measurement of English language proficiency, succesfully to participate in his or her program and to function on a day to day basis. A sponsor must verify an applicant's English language proficiency through a recognized English language test, by signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school, or through a documented interview conducted by the sponsor either in-person or by videoconferencing or by telephone if videoconferencing is not a viable option" [22 CFR 62.10(a)(2)]. 

In order to comply with the U.S. Department of States regulation, the Office of International Affairs will now require a English language proficiency form to be included with all J-1 Exchange Visitor DS-2019 request packets, along with the supporting documentation. 

There are three methods in which a scholar can comply with the English proficiency requirement;

1. Certification by a language test recognized by UC Merced's graduate admissions. Provide a copy of the test score. 

  • The test must have been taken within the past 5 years
  • IELTS overall band score of 7 or higher
  • TOEFL test score must be at least 550 (paper based), 213 (computer based) or 68 (internet based iBT)
  • For more information regarding the toefl, please visit their website, here:

2. Certificate by an academic institution or english language school. Provide a copy of letter/certificate

  • Verifies the exchange visitor possesses English language proficiency high enough to function within the UC Merced position and within the local U.S. community. 
  • Issued on letterhead and in English within the past 2 years. 
  • Includes signature from school official. 

3. Certification by the Sponsoring Professor. 

  • The host professor/PI can conduct an interview with the prospective scholar, either in-person, by video conference, or by telephone. The host professor would use his/her discretion to determine if the visitor has enough English skills to function at UC Merced and the local U.S. community. The professor/P.I. needs to complete the Certification of English Language Proficiency form, attesting to completing the interview.