F1 visa insurance is necessary for international students studying in the U.S.
What is an F1 Visa?
Most international students that would like to study in the U.S. apply for an F1 visa. Their dependents, spouse, and minor children under the age of 21 years apply for an F2 visa. In order to get an F1 visa, you must be accepted to study at a private elementary school, middle school, high school, college, seminary, conservatory, English Language School (ESL), or an academic institution.
Do F1 Visa Students Have Health Insurance Requirements?
The F1 visa is issued by the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in the person's home country abroad. However, unlike a J1 visa for Exchange Visitors and Scholars, there are no set requirements for health insurance by the U.S. Department of State for F visa holders. Therefore, most schools come up with their own health insurance requirements, and they fall into the following major categories:
Compulsory school-sponsored group health insurance plans
Some schools require that all of their international students enroll into their school-sponsored group health insurance plan. They do not provide any option to buy F1 visa insurance from anywhere else. They typically already add the cost of such insurance into the overall tuition fee. Students attending these schools have no choice but to enroll into this insurance.
An example of such a school is University of Texas at Austin.
Such insurance plans are generally very expensive. However, they provide more comprehensive coverage, and may include an unlimited policy maximum and provide coverage for pre-existing medical conditions with no waiting period, pregnancy, birth control, abortion, wellness checkups, preventive care and mental health. Such medical insurance plans are usually PPACA compliant.
Even in such cases, you should always confirm if they will provide coverage during school breaks, such as summer break or winter break. If not, you can consider purchasing Travel Medical Insurance for these durations.
Do they provide coverage once you graduate and are on Optional Practical Training (OPT)? Or are you still required to have the school-sponsored group health insurance while you are on OPT? We have several OPT Medical Insurance plans available.
Many of those health insurance plans tend to be from a major domestic health insurance company. Therefore, they may not provide coverage for Emergency Medical Evacuation or Repatriation of Remains. In such cases, you can purchase a standalone Emergency Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Plan for this coverage.
Some of these schools mandate only F1 visa holders to enroll into school-sponsored group health insurance, but may still allow F2 visa dependents to purchase from anywhere they would like. Such dependents can purchase F2 visa insurance .
Additionally, if such students participate in Study Abroad (study for a summer or semester), school-sponsored group health insurance may not provide coverage outside the U.S. Therefore, they should consider purchasing Study Abroad Insurance for that duration.
School-sponsored group health insurance plan with the Waiver option
Some schools offer school-sponsored group health insurance. However, enrollment into that insurance is not mandatory as long as the student purchases a comparable international health insurance plan that meets the minimum requirements set by the school.
An example of such school is University of Central Florida, Orlando.
Such schools provide a "waiver form" that must list the minimum requirements that F1 visa insurance purchased from a third party must meet. Many such F1 visa insurance plans are available on this website. After purchasing international student insurance, the student would complete his/her portion, including the signature in the waiver form, and send it to us. Once we receive the waiver form, we would have the remaining portion of the form completed and signed by the insurance company, then return it to the student. The student would then provide the form to the school to enroll in the classes.
Many students who are planning to purchase F1 visa insurance end up waiting until the last moment. Even though purchase of the insurance itself is online and instant on this website, getting the waiver form completed is a manual process and may take some time during the busy enrollment season. Therefore, it is best to plan at least a few days in advance.
Many international student insurance plans we offer already meet the minimum requirements of most schools. However, you should consider sending your waiver form to us by email so that we can review the requirements of the school, and a licensed insurance representative can suggest the plan most suitable to you that would meet your school's minimum requirements.
Whether you enroll into school-sponsored group health insurance or buy insurance from us, it is mandatory either way to purchase medical insurance while in the U.S., as the healthcare costs are very high.
No school-sponsored group health insurance plan
Some schools, typically smaller ones, do not offer any school-sponsored group health insurance. Many of them do not set any specific international student insurance requirements either. Some of those schools may state that you must buy any health insurance you choose, while others leave it as optional and it is entirely up to the student if they would like to buy insurance for themselves.
Of course, it is never a good idea to be in the U.S. without proper health insurance coverage. However, such schools provide the maximum flexibility to choose insurance that is most suitable to you, either in terms of your needs or your budget.
Fortunately, from our International Student Medical Insurance section, you can get instant quotes from various plans, compare them side-by-side, and make an instant purchase online. In any case, you should review the brochure and the certificate wording carefully to understand what it covers and what is excluded. Some F1 visa insurance plans cover dependents on an F2 visa, but others do not. If you have dependents, you should consider purchasing F2 visa insurance.
As healthcare costs are extremely high in the U.S., it is necessary to have health insurance throughout your stay in the U.S. In the case you were to fall sick or get injured, it could be financially devastating for you without proper health insurance. Therefore, it is best to always purchase F1 visa insurance. Research and compare numerous plans. The best insurance for F1 students in your situation will depend upon your school and individual needs.