"English3 gave us everything we were looking for. Our office is very happy with the interview and the process is now more convenient for departments and scholars."
Stephen Smith
Associate Director

University of Utah

Began using the English3 J-1 Interview:
June 2018

Annual J-1 Exchange Visitors:

Annual Research Expenditure:
$520 Million


Methods of Verifying English Proficiency:

For details, click below:

The University of Utah is dedicated to providing an exceptional experience for each exchange visitor (EV) they host. With hundreds of EVs arriving each year, Utah’s ISSS office relies on effective policies to ensure EVs can succeed in both their academic programs and on a day-to-day basis—communicating easily with academic peers and individuals in the community.

Stephen Smith, the Associate Director and Responsible Officer (RO) in the ISSS office, led the implementation of the English3 Interview. He recently sat down with us to discuss how the interview has improved the English verification process.

Challenge—Departmental Interviews

Until 2018, the most popular method EVs coming to the University of Utah used to prove English proficiency was the departmental interview.

“We did have some concerns with [the departmental interview] because the interview would either be done by a PI, professor, or department chair who were often not trained in language proficiency.”

The Department of State (DOS) requires that the university determine English language proficiency through an objective measure. Having a professor or department chair conduct the interview raised concerns about how qualified they were to assess English proficiency and about potential vested interests. The international office continued to allow the department interview because many universities have the interview in place, they were not aware of another good option, and there was no event to prompt a change.

A DOS Site Visit and A New Option

In 2017, Stephen Smith, then a Sr. Scholar Advisor, became aware of the English3 Interview and the ISSS office began considering adding the English3 Interview and removing the option for the department interview.

“When English3 approached us we were excited about that option, and we knew that if they were to conduct the interview it would be more consistent.”

Other anticipated benefits of the English3 Interview included decreased workload on the ISSS office and sponsoring departments, a better EV experience, and an automated and paperless process within Sunapsis.

While the international office was considering English3, they received a site visit by the DOS. After discussing English proficiency and the English3 Interview, the DOS representative praised their efforts for proactively ensuring compliance, stating, “we are aware of English3’s interview and we applaud the approach.”

Straight-forward Implementation

Despite concerns about implementing a new process campus-wide, adding English3 Interviews as an additional option progressed smoothly.

“Change for anybody is cause for hesitation but looking back it was just a much smoother process than I thought it was gonna be.

Once we rolled the process out we did have some pushback, the pushback was mainly for [when] a professor or researcher really wanted someone desperately and that individual did not meet the particular score that was set. We’re certainly going to get some pushback, but in the end, we are a compliance office and we are obligated to meet the rules and regulations of the Department of State.”

One Year Later

“I would certainly recommend English3. My office is very happy with their interview. We have used it for about a year. We like the ease and convenience of it. We like the idea of being able to review the interview recording and to forward it to departments for them to view it as well. One thing I really like is that there’s rarely a technical issue but if there is one English3 will work directly with that department and the response time is fairly quick. Our experience overall has been very positive and, at a minimum, I would recommend it as an additional option.”

Stephen Smith, Associate Director, RO

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