New and returning scholars are required to check in and attend the mandatory orientation hosted by the International Students & Scholar Services (ISSS) office. At the required check-in, this is where you will complete your health insurance paperwork.

U.S. immigration law requires that every J-1 exchange visitor and J-2 dependent maintain health insurance coverage for the duration of their stay in the United Stateds. J-2 dependents must maintain continuous insurance coverage throughout the period of the J-1 scholar program as indicated on the DS-2019. No exceptions will be allowed by International Programs or University Benefits. 

Health Insurance Enrollment

You will enroll in your plan(s) during the J-1 scholar check-in and orientation with the International Students & Scholar Services (ISSS) Office. Once your enrollment has been approved and authorized by ISSS, your form will be sent to University Benefits for processing. It may take up to 2-3 weeks for you to receive your insurance cards at your residing Iowa address. Please ensure that your address is up-to-date in the system to avoid any delays.

Dental Insurance Enrollment

Enrolling in a dental insurance plan is voluntary. It can only be added and/or cancelled during the following situations:

  • At the check-in/orientation with ISSS when you arrive 
  • Student open enrollment periods that occur at the start of each semester
    • Fall Semester:  August 1 to September 9
    • Spring Semester: January 1 to February 9
    • Summer Semester:  May 1 to June 9
  • Employee Annual Open Enrollment which occurs every fall with a coverage effective date of January 1.

Dental coverage must be maintained throughout the semester and cannot be dropped outside of an open enrollment period. 

Please note: The dental plan available to you is based upon the health plan you elect. The Student Dental plan is available for those enrolling in SHIP and the Dental II plan is available for those enrolling in UIChoice or UISelect.

Enrolling your J-2 Dependent(s)

Scholars who are already in the U.S. and invite J-2 dependents to join them must add the spouse and/or children to their UI insurance plan within 10 days of their arrival to the U.S. You must contact ISSS to complete this process. This process is also in effect if a Scholar were to give birth here in the United States.


Scholars or their dependents who cancel their UI coverage before their program ends will lose legal status as per U.S. law.

Your coverage will be continuous unless one of the following occurs:

  • Coverage will terminate at the end of the month in which you are no longer affiliated with the university.
  • Coverage can only be terminated through the International Student & Scholars Services Office.
  • University Benefits will cancel coverage for non-payment of premium, which could result in the loss of visa rights!

If you enroll in dental insurance, you must maintain that coverage throughout the semester and will not be able cancel until the next Student Open Enrollment period.

All enrollments and changes for unpaid J-1's must be authorized by ISSS. Questions should be directed to the International Student & Scholars Services office at