J-1 English Proficiency Requirements
The U.S. Department of State requires all J-1 exchange visitors have sufficient English proficiency [22 CFR §62.10(a)(2)]. To comply with this regulation, the host department must submit documentation of a prospective J-1 scholar’s English proficiency as part of the DS-2019 request process. IFSS cannot issue a DS-2019 without valid documentation.

Once the scholar arrives at the UW, if IFSS deems that their English proficiency does not meet requirements or was misrepresented, the J-1 scholar’s program will be terminated.

The English proficiency requirement can be satisfied by submitting documentation of one of the following:
  • Proof of graduation from U.S. or foreign institution where the instruction occurred entirely in English. If the proof of graduation is more than five years old, IFSS may require additional details or documentation.
  • A signed letter from an internationally recognized academic institution or English curriculum school that states the prospective visitor’s level of English proficiency. The letter must be dated within the last two years, state the scholar’s affiliation with the school, and affirm the visitor achieved at least intermediate skills.  This letter cannot be from the UW-Madison hosting department.
  • Copy of official scores or transcript containing a photo and birthdate from one of the following English language tests taken within the last year and meeting the stated minimum scores below.
    • TOEFL: iBT-65 total (with the speaking portion scoring no less than 17)
    • IELTS: 6 total with no portion scored less than 5
    • Duolingo English Test: 95 total
    • Cambridge Assessment: 169 total (either on the B2 First, C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency tests only)
No other testing scores or certificates from other centers or English language schools will be accepted.

Important Notes:
If a scholar has ever taken TOEFL, IELTS, Cambridge, or Duolingo, a copy of all official scores must be included.
If the TOEFL, IELTS, Cambridge, or Duolingo score does not meet IFSS standards, the scholar must retake one of these tests and receive a passing score before their application will be considered. An interview will not be accepted in lieu of TOEFL, IELTS, Cambridge, or Duolingo.
  • J-1 English proficiency interview assessment report (see IFSS’s template) from an interview conducted in English by the hosting faculty member.
    • This can be done in person or by a videoconferencing method such as Zoom, WebEx or Teams.
    • The host faculty member must be proficient in English.
    • The interview must include the questions listed in the separate English proficiency interview template. Additionally, the interview must also include three questions focusing on the J-1 program content (such as research work, area of specialization, appointment directives, etc.).
    • The interview assessment must be completed in full with no blanks. The assessment comments should detail the answer to the individual questions as well as how the answer relates to their English proficiency.
    • The scores should be based on the TOEFL independent speak rubric scoring standards that are included with the English proficiency interview template document. Interviews can only be from within the last year.

IFSS reserves the right to determine English proficiency on a case-by-case basis.