Eligibility: Risk Management - Northwestern University

University staff, students and formal visitors are required to have health insurance while on campus. This section outlines the eligibility to participate in this plan.  

International Scholars and Visitors

Under regulations of the United States Department of State, international visitors must have adequate health insurance for themselves and any accompanying dependents while in the US. Coverage must meet Northwestern University's minimum health insurance requirements and be in effect for the entire length of stay. See Waiver Process for requirements.

International personnel eligible for University-sponsored health care plans may not be covered immediately upon arrival. Therefore, international visitors must have interim coverage until employee health benefits take effect.

Effective July 1, 2010, employee health benefits will commence on the date of hire for those appointed on the first of the month. Those hired on the second of the month or later must wait until the first of the following month for active coverage.

International scholars who will arrive in the US prior to their date of hire, including those scheduled to start on the first of the month, may enroll in the Visiting Scholar Health Insurance Plan until employee benefits commence. Please remember that international visitors must have continuous coverage for the entire length of stay, not the just the time they are at Northwestern.

To establish temporary coverage during this initial uninsured period, please complete a Visiting Scholar Plan Application, found on the Enrollment Process webpage. If interim coverage through the Visiting Scholar Health Insurance Plan is not needed, please use the Waiver Request Form found on the Waiver Process webpage, to complete the visa application.

Due to visa and travel delays, many visitors do not arrive as scheduled. Please report all delays to Risk Management as soon as possible to avoid a gap in coverage.

Domestic Scholars and Visitors

Domestic unpaid visitors and scholars are also required to maintain adequate health insurance coverage while at Northwestern. Domestic visitors are not eligible to enroll in the Visiting Scholar Plan due to the regulatory requirements applicable to the Plan.

Domestic visitors should secure health insurance coverage from their home institution or employer. If such insurance is not available, the health insurance marketplace exchanges offered by the states are also options. For domestic visitors with no other source of health insurance, the Northwestern Student Health Insurance Plan (offered through Aetna) may be an option. Please contact the Office of Risk Management for more information.

To participate in activities in Northwestern laboratory/office facilities without a formal appointment, a Volunteers and Visitors Lab Use Agreement Form must be completed.


In compliance with its responsibilities under federal law, Northwestern University requires dependents of international exchange visitors to have health insurance that meets University standards. Review the Waiver Process webpage for requirements. It is the responsibility of the exchange visitor to make certain that all J-2 dependents are properly insured while in the US. Willful failure to maintain the required coverage is considered to be in violation of visa status and may result in termination of the exchange program.

Eligible dependents include the scholar's lawful spouse and any unmarried children (under age 21 and dependent upon the scholar for support and care). Please fill out a Dependent Form found on the Enrollment Process webpage to enroll dependents in the plan or to waive this coverage for J2 dependents.

Employees and Paid Research Staff

Regular research staff appointees, including postdoctoral fellows, are considered employees of the University. If the appointee is a US Citizen, the department is not required to establish temporary coverage through the Visiting Scholar Plan or request a waiver until employee benefits take effect. Verification of continuous health insurance coverage is mandatory for non-citizens and international visiting personnel only.

Occasionally, visitors are paid a stipend through the University payroll system and may qualify for employee health benefits. To determine eligibility, please contact the Department of Human Resources Benefits Division.