Important Notice: Exchange Visitor Services English Proficiency Requirements Are Changing
To better uphold the U.S. Department of State’s requirement for proving appropriate English proficiency for sponsored exchange visitors within the J-1 Program and to strengthen UF’s compliance with the federal guidelines for English proficiency, the UF International Center Exchange Visitor Services (EVS) will be instituting new options for English proficiency for scholar, professor, and student intern category DS-2019 requests.
The new options go into effect on February 17, 2020.
Current English proficiency options will be accepted until 5pm on Friday, February 14, 2020. Please note the current “Required Documents” PDF indicates the faculty confirmation letter is accepted only until 01/01/2020; this has changed to February 14, 2020. The PDF will be updated shortly.
See the following for a list of the upcoming changes:
Current options which will remain the same are as follows:
- If the exchange visitor applicant is a citizen of an exempt country, English proficiency is waived. For the exempt list click here.
- If the exchange visitor applicant graduates from an institution where English is the primary language of instruction, English proficiency is waived. Proof if required such as official transcripts, diploma, diploma supplements, or academic evaluations.
- Official test of English proficiency, taken within the last two years, meeting minimum noted scores.
- IELTS (International English Language Testing System): 5.5 overall
- TOEFL iBT (Test of English as a Foreign Language): 69
- PTE (Pearson English Language Test): 44
- CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages): B1
Changes include the following:
- EVS will no longer solely accept confirmation letters from faculty confirming the exchange visitor applicant has sufficient English skills to participate in the program and to navigate daily life in the US (confirmation letters will be accepted with new packet requests up until 5pm on February 14, 2020).
- If the incoming exchange visitor applicant can provide none of the above, a third-party English verification through English3 will be required with a minimum score of 3.0. The exchange visitor applicant will conduct this process after the department submits the DS-2019 request, and the exchange visitor logs in to the EVS platform. An additional fee of $99 (USD) will apply (additional registration fees may apply for registration in China due to Chinese government taxes on American companies conducting online business in China). Please note EVS does not receive any compensation or “kick back” from the English3 fee.
- English3 interfaces with the EVS online request platform. Once the exchange visitor applicant takes the online test, the final score and certificate will upload in our platform. EVS advisors will have queries established to know when test scores are received. Exchange visitor applicants will have access to their certificates should they wish to use the certificate for another opportunity. Scores and certificates upload in the EVS online platform 2-5 days after a test is completed. Applicants may take the test on their own time and within their own time zone as everything is online.
- Englsih3 uses questions from a bank of more than one hundred questions, therefore each test will never be the same. Various mechanisms are in place to help ensure the true applicant is taking the test. The applicants must scan their passport and upload it to the English3 program. A human staff with a background in Linguistics will review the recorded test for scoring and to make sure the applicant in the recording matches the passport.
- Returning exchange visitors (new program) who previously completed the English3 test may use the certificate again with UF for up to 4 years. (must be a minimum score of 3.0).
- Exchange visitor applicants who score a 2.5 are not disqualified. The faculty host then may submit a detailed confirmation letter within the guidelines from our online “Required Documents” PDF (guidelines will be added to the PDF this week). Applicants with a 2.5 score and an appropriate faculty confirmation letter may use this acceptance once. Future visits to UF under the Exchange Visitor Program will reset English proficiency requirements.
- Student Interns may not solely use English proficiency confirmation confirmed by their foreign institution of higher learning. Student interns will have to adhere to the same English proficiency requirements as the scholar categories.
This week there will be a drop down menu on the main DS-2019 request page. The drop down menu will have you select what type of English verification EVS should expect. Either the requesting staff will have a document to upload or staff will choose the “English3” option which will indicate to the reviewing EVS advisor to expect the exchange visitor applicant to complete the English3 test, thus not submitting any English proficiency documents. We are working to see if our online platform will send an automatic email to the exchange visitor with more information on starting the English3 process. EVS will provide you a final solution to what happens at this point and how the exchange visitor will know they must do the English3 test.
If a score of 2.5 is obtained, the processing EVS advisor will then reach out to you with the option of the faculty host completing a confirmation letter after conducting a SKYPE, ZOOM or similar live interview. Our guidelines will require information in the letter such as what type of live interview was used, what was the date and time conducted, list at least five questions asked, and a final confirmation the faculty host believes the exchange visitor applicant possess adequate English proficiency to participate in the proposed program as well as navigate daily life in the U.S.
The J visa is for cultural and educational exchange. Please note the U.S. Department of State is looking out for the safety and well-being of exchange visitors. If an exchange visitor can speak the same foreign language as the hosting faculty, the exchange visitor can navigate the work environment to a degree. But if the faculty member is not in the work environment, difficulties then arise. Navigating daily life in the US, outside of the work environment, is important and part of a positive cultural exchange experience. Being able to understand traffic laws, general laws and regulations, being able to communicate if help or medical assistance is needed is important. EVS thanks everyone for their understanding with these changes.
More information about English3, see https://english3.com/.
For more information about the EVS program, contact Scott S. Davis, Director of Exchange Visitor Services at (352) 273-1527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.