Effective January 5th, 2015, all scholars are required to demonstrate English proficiency before a scholar can be invited to the United States. This new restriction is dictated by the U.S. Department of State, hence there is no flexibility. English Proficiency can be proven in one of three ways:
- Through a recognized English language test
- Through signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school
- Through an interview "conducted by the sponsor" in-person, by videoconference, or by web camera
Recognized English Test
International Programs, along with ESL Programs, recommends that results of either the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) be accepted as they are the most widely utilized tests in higher education and are available throughout the world:
- IELTS overall score of 5.0, with a subscore of 6.0 in either reading or listening.
- TOEFL (internet based) overall score of 60 with either a listening or reading subscore of 15 or above.
Transcript from an English-speaking institution
International Programs will accept a transcript showing enrollment and grades from a post-secondary academic institution where English is the primary institutional language of instruction.
Departments may conduct the interview by following this procedure:
- Members of the department must use an interview "script" and evaluation rubric developed by English as a Second Language Programs when assessing language proficiency (available here:interview_script_and_grading_rubric.pdf).
- The interviewer must ask the questions as written in the script. The evaluation process, including the script and rubric used to rate interviewees, was created by second language learning professionals. Deviation from the script, such as asking the questions using colloquial expressions, may cause confusion and lead to lower ratings.
- The interview must be live and recorded electronically and a copy emailed to International Student and Scholar Services before a DS-2019 will be issued. Prospective scholars should not receive any coaching or copies of the interview script beforehand. Recommended programs include Skype, Google, and MSN or using smartphone apps such as FaceTime.
- Interviews should be conducted as video interviews, unless the scholar being invited is personally known to the faculty host, in which case a recorded telephone interview is sufficient.
- The minimum acceptable score is a 2.5 overall average with a 3.0 in Listening
ISSS is required to keep a digital copy of the interview, which must be received before a DS-2019 will be issued. Failure to do so will cause the University of Iowa to lose certification to host J scholars.