International Trainees

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

Below are some links and resources to consider during the planning process


Before Arriving in the US

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

Fox Chase Cancer Center recommends that you make your travel arrangements after you have received your visa application materials/entry documents and after your visa application has been approved by a U.S. Consular official.

What do I do once I receive my entry documents and pre-arrival materials?

First, your documents will be scanned to you for your review to make sure there are no misspellings or other mistakes on your documents. If everything is correct and accurate, we will FedEx them to you and you may use these documents to apply for a visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest you.

How do I apply for a visa?

Since visa application procedures differ from each consular office and sometimes from day to day, you should find information about the Embassy or Consulate you will use for your visa application on the internet at

Generally, however, you 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)
  • Your entry document (DS-2019 for J-1 status, form I-797 for H-1B status), signed by you and by the designated official/responsible officer
  • A passport valid for at least six (6) months
  • 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 you intend 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)
  • You also should be prepared for the consular official to review your English proficiency, unless there is a notation otherwise on your student entry document.
  • For more information about the visa interview, read about "What Consuls Look For" from the U.S. Department of State.

What are the health insurance requirements?

As an Exchange Visitor in the United States, under a rule effective September 1, 1994, you must carry health insurance for yourself and your J-2 dependents for the full duration of your J program. Government regulations stipulate that if, after that date, you willfully fail to carry health insurance for yourself and your dependents, your J-1 sponsor must terminate your 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.
  • 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.

When you land in the United States, you must go through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with your valid immigration documents to gain admission. 

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

After Arrival at Fox Chase Cancer Center

You will also be contacted by the Fox Chase Human Resources department, which will provide you with any other information you may need, including any additional guidance required on social security cards, address changes, traveling while on a visa, identification cards or a drivers license, and payroll and benefits information.

Adjusting to life in the US

International Postdoctoral Survival Guide - National Posdoctoral Association

Coming to America: Doing a Postdoc in the US -

Mind Matters: Culture Shock -

Postdoctoral fellowships in the US: top tips for international trainees -

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

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