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Middlebury Language Schools English Language Proficiency (ELP) Requirement

Regulatory Update

The U.S. Department of State updated the regulations for its J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.  Effective January 5, 2015 all sponsors of J-1 Exchange Visitor programs are required to determine that the Exchange Visitor has sufficient proficiency, “as determined by an objective measurement of English language proficiency” to successfully participate in the program and “to function on a day-to-day basis.”  [22 CFR 62.11(a)(2)].

Exchange Visitor sponsors, including Middlebury College, are required to verify English language proficiency through one of the following methods:

  • “A recognized English language test,
  • signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school, or
  • through a documented interview conducted by the sponsor either in-person or by videoconferencing, or by telephone if videoconferencing is not a viable option.”
    [22 CFR 62.11(a)(2)]

Sponsors also need to retain documentation that J-1 visa applicants have demonstrated the required level of English language proficiency.

Why the Change?

The U.S. Department of State has commented that this regulatory change was prompted because it found that "too many exchange visitors lack sufficient English proficiency to perform their jobs or complete their academic programs; to navigate daily life in the United States; to read and comprehend program materials; to understand fully their responsibilities, rights, and protections; and to know how to obtain assistance, if necessary."  [79 FR 60294, 60301]

English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standard for Faculty & Staff of the Middlebury Language Schools

It has been determined that a high-beginning level of English will be the standard for participation in the Language Schools as faculty, staff or scholars on a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa. Individuals who are hired for the Language Schools and who will need a J-1 visa must demonstrate that they have basic English vocabulary, can read and write basic sentences in English, and can conduct simple conversations in English.

Individuals who need a J-1 visa will be asked to submit evidence of English language proficiency at the time they submit a Form DS-2019 application to the ISSS office.  This may take the form of a score from a recognized English Language test or a signed document from an academic institution that confirms at least a high-beginning level of English.  If a faculty or staff member is unable to provide the requested documentation, an oral interview will be arranged by ISSS.


Please contact International Student and Scholar Services by emailing us at or by calling our office at (802) 443-5858.

To learn more about the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program please visit

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)

Service Building - Second Floor
14 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753
Phone: 802 443-5858