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International Trainees

Beginning a training program can be a daunting task for anyone and particularly for international trainees.

The following is a collection of information to consider during the planning process as well as links to helpful resources.

Before Arriving in the US

When can international students make arrangements for travel to the U.S. and Fox Chase Cancer Center?

Fox Chase Cancer Center recommends that international students make their travel arrangements after they have received their visa application materials/entry documents and after approval of the visa application by a U.S. Consular official.

What happens after the entry documents and pre-arrival materials are received?

First, Fox Chase Cancer Center will complete the trainee's documents (DS2019, information sheet, and proof of Sevis fee). These will be scanned and emailed to the trainee for review to ensure there are no misspellings or other mistakes on the documents. If everything is correct and accurate, Fox Chase will courier the original documents via FedEx to the trainee. Once received by the trainee, these documents may be used to apply for a visa at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

How do international trainees apply for visas?

Since visa application procedures change often and differ between consular offices, each trainee should find information specific to their Embassy or Consulate at http://www.usembassy.gov.

Generally, however, international trainees will be expected to present the following to the consular officer:

  • The completed online visa application Form DS-160 available at the U.S. Department of State website,
  • Visa application fee,
  • Proof of paid I-901 SEVIS fee (for J-1),
  • Trainee's entry document (DS-2019 for J-1 status, form I-797 for H-1B status), signed by the trainee and by the designated official/responsible officer,
  • A passport valid for at least six (6) months from the date of entry to the U.S.,
  • Proof of "non-immigrant intent"--intention to stay in the U.S. temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing a full course of study,
  • Proof of a residence outside the U.S. to which the trainee intends to return after completing the temporary period of study, research or training,
  • Proof of financial ability to cover the cost of education and living expenses while at Fox Chase Cancer Center (see above on original financial documentation)

International trainees should also be prepared for the consular official to review their English proficiency.

What are the health insurance requirements?

Under a rule effective September 1, 1994, international trainees in the United States must carry health insurance for themselves and their dependents for the full duration of their J program. Government regulations stipulate that if, after that date,  a trainee willfully fails to carry health insurance for themselves and their dependents, the trainee's sponsor must terminate the trainee's program, and report the termination to the United States Department of State (DOS).  Fox Chase Cancer Center provides health insurance to Postdocs and Graduate Students.  If you are not covered by a Fox Chase Cancer Center plan, you must have the following coverage:

The following requirements have been established for the type and amounts of coverage you must carry if you hold J-1 or J-2 status:

  • The policy must provide "medical benefits of at least $100,000 for each accident or illness."
  • If you should die in the United States, the policy must provide at least $25,000 in benefits to send your remains to your home country for burial.
  • If, because of a serious illness or injury, you must be sent home on the advice of a doctor, the policy must pay up to $50,000 for the expenses of your travel.
  • The deductible must not exceed $500.00 per accident or illness.
  • The policy may establish a waiting period before it covers pre-existing conditions (health problems you had before you bought the insurance), as long as the waiting period is reasonable by current standards in the insurance industry.

The policy must be backed by the full faith and credit of your home country government, or the company providing the insurance must meet minimum rating requirements established by DOS (an A. M. Best rating of "A-" or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of "A-i" or above, a Standard & Poor's Claims-paying Ability rating of "A-" or above, or a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above).

What to expect at the Customs and Border port of entry.

To gain admission into the United States, international trainees must go through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with their valid immigration documents. 

For information on what to expect, please visit the following Department of Homeland Security pages: 

After Arrival at Fox Chase Cancer Center

International trainees will meet with a representative of the Fox Chase Human Resources department to get additional guidance on obtaining a social security card, identification card, and driver’s license, changing their address, traveling while on a visa, and payroll and benefits information.

Adjusting to life in the US

International Postdoctoral Survival Guide - National Postdoctoral Association

Coming to America: Doing a Postdoc in the US - Sciencemag.org

Mind Matters: Culture Shock - Sciencemag.org

Postdoctoral fellowships in the US: top tips for international trainees - blog.nature.com

The Stages of Cross Culture Adjustment - from the University of Georgia

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