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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Smithsonian Fellowships and Internships

Applying

How do I apply for internships and fellowships?

You can apply to most internships and fellowships using our online application system – SOLAA.

Where do I start to find the best internship for me?

There are more than 60 Smithsonian internship opportunities, to find the best one for you visit this page and read more about them.

Can I apply to more than one internship and/or fellowship?

Yes! In fact, we encourage you to!

What is the minimum age for an internship or fellowship?

Smithsonian accepts applicants from the ages of fourteen and older. If an applicant is fourteen or older but less than eighteen he/she must attach the parental consent form to the application unless he/she is applying through SOLAA.

How does the general internship pool work?

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis as opportunities become available. Please know that if an internship does not become available that fits your interests and timeframe, you will not be contacted. If you have a specific interest, you are encouraged to apply for a specific appointment as well.

Can international students apply for internships or fellowships?

Some Internship and Fellowship programs do accept international students. It is up to the particular program. That information can be obtained by contacting the program coordinators listed on our website.

Can I get academic credit for my internship?

Yes, but it is your responsibility to arrange to receive credit with your university before arriving.

How competitive are Smithsonian internships and fellowships?

Smithsonian internships and fellowships are very competitive; the Smithsonian receives thousands of applications each year – but don’t let that discourage you from applying.

We work to make sure Smithsonian internships are prestigious, but not exclusive.

How do I know when my internship or fellowship application has been accepted?

If you are selected for an appointment you will receive an award letter in your email.

How long should it take to find out if I received an internship or fellowship?

How long until you receive a response depends on a lot of things: which internship you applied for, the time of year, as well as how many other applicants there are so it is hard to say how long it will take to receive a response.

 

After Applying

How does the ID process work?

All academic appointees in residence for 30 days or longer should have received paperwork from the museum unit for a background clearance to be sent or delivered to the Office of Protection Services (OPS) Personnel Security and ID Office.  The intern/fellow should make an appointment with OPS using the OPS appointment scheduler.

How do I find housing?

To find housing you can consult our housing guide here!

 

International Appointees

As an international visitor to the Smithsonian, there are some additional considerations regarding your participation in an internship or fellowship. This section provides useful information to help answer your questions about coming to the Smithsonian as an international visitor.

What is the Smithsonian Office of International Relations (OIR)?

The Office of International Relations (OIR)

The Office of International Relations (OIR) at the Smithsonian Institution serves as the central point for Institution-wide coordination of international activities. As the main external representative of international programs for the Institution, OIR leads institutional relationships with U.S. government and international organizations. Smithsonian staff currently work in more than 130 countries—across disciplines, in all corners of the world.  Each year, Smithsonian is also host to hundreds of international scholars, interns, fellows and priority groups. These international visitors engage in a variety of educational activities across the Institution.

OIR Work with International Visitors

The Office of International Relations hosts more than 250 individual international visitors, and nearly 100 international visitor delegations and VIP groups each year. In coordination with the Office of Fellowships and Internships, OIR provides immigration advising and visa assistance for international interns and fellows.

To connect with the Office of International Relations, contact us at global@si.edu

Come Visit Us:

OIR Office Hours are: Mondays- 1-4 p.m., Tuesdays & Thursdays, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. To schedule an appointment outside of Office Hours, please contact global@si.edu.

Physical Address:

The S. Dillon Ripley Center

International Center Suite 3123 (3rd level down)

1100 Jefferson Dr. SW

Washington, DC 20013-7012

Mailing Address:

Office of International Relations

Smithsonian Institution

1100 Jefferson Dr. SW

MRC 705 PO Box 37012

Washington DC 20013-7012

Do I Need a Visa?

As a non-U.S. citizen, you will need to present proof of legal authorization to participate in your internship or fellowship.  There are a variety of U.S. visa/immigration categories which would enable you to participate in your internship or fellowship. By filling out the U.S. visa/tax questionnaire (hyperlink?), OFI will help you determine your visa needs.

Some things to consider: you may already be in the U.S. in a particular immigration status, which may be eligible to use during your Smithsonian internship or fellowship (you should check with OFI). If you are coming from outside the U.S. and do not hold a current U.S. immigration status, the Smithsonian may be able to help you in securing a J-1 “Exchange Visitor” visa.

What is the J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa?

The Office of International Relations (OIR) at Smithsonian is authorized by the Department of State to be a designated sponsor of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program: http://j1visa.state.gov/.

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program provides countless opportunities for international visitors to come to the U.S. to teach, conduct research, demonstrate special skills, study or receive on-the-job training for periods ranging from a few weeks to several years. The broader objectives of the program are to facilitate the exchange of ideas and scholarly research in a variety of fields between people of the United States and people of other countries and to promote increased mutual understanding.

As a designated sponsor of the Department of State, OIR is authorized to issue the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status (“Form DS-2019”), the primary document used to support an application for a J-1 (Exchange Visitor) Visa.

OIR 1

J-1 Visa

OIR2

J-1 DS-2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Do I Get a J-1 Visa and DS-2019 Form?

When you indicate on the OFI visa/tax questionnaire (hyperlink?) that you require visa sponsorship, OFI will determine if you are eligible for a J-1 visa and then send you a J-1 Visitor Request Form.

1) Once you have completed the J-1 Visitor Request form, it will be submitted to the Office of International Relations.  If you have questions about filling out this form, you should contact the Office of International Relations at global@si.edu.

**The J-1 Visitor Request Form should be submitted two months prior to your intended start date at the Smithsonian**

In addition to the J-1 Visitor Request Form, you will also need to provide the following documentation:

  • CV
  • proof of academic degrees,
  • passport bio page with personal information (and any passport bio pages for accompanying J-2 Dependents)
  • Proof of funding in the amount of $24,000/year for fellows and $15,000/year for interns, pro-rated to $2,000/month for fellows and $1,250/month for interns. J-2 Dependents require additional funding per dependent/ year.

Funding options:

  • Smithsonian funding
  • Personal funds in the form of a bank statement (bonds and investments are not acceptable)
  • Salary, grants or scholarships in the form of an award letter
  • U.S. or home country government funding in the form of an award letter

2) When OIR receives your completed J-1 Visitor Request Form, a DS-2019 Form will be issued. OIR will send you this form via courier (please be sure to provide a valid mailing address to receive shipments from a courier service).

3) Once you receive the DS2019 form you should:

  • Complete the DS-160 application form.
  • Note: Smithsonian is a U.S. Government sponsor, and therefore J-1 visitors coming to Smithsonian are exempt from paying the SEVIS fee of $180.
  • Review the DS-2019 form for accuracy.
  • Prepare for your visa interview using these helpful tips and information here and here.
  • Note: OIR estimates an average of one month for an individual to book a visa appointment, receive the visa, and make travel and housing arrangements for your stay in the U.S.

What Do I Do When I Arrive at the Smithsonian?

When you arrive to the Smithsonian, you should plan to check in with your hosting supervisor upon your arrival.

If you do not hold J-1 Exchange Visitor Status, you should confirm with your supervisor whether any additional proof of immigration status is needed. Your supervisor can also direct you to next steps for securing a Smithsonian ID, setting up email and computer access, and any additional relevant paperwork.

**If you hold J-1 Exchange Visitor Status, you must complete the check in process within 30 days of your program start date as listed below**

J-1 Exchange Visitors are required to report directly to the Office of International Relations (OIR) for check-in with their immigration documents, including:

  • Passport
  • J-1 Visa
  • J-1 Entry Stamp or Proof of I-94 entry via cbp.gov/I94
  • DS-2019 form (with consular signature)
  • Health Insurance (confirmation form)
  • If applicable, dependent’s passport, visa, proof of I-94 card and DS-2019 form

The Office of International Relations Office Hours are: Mondays- 1-4 p.m., Tuesdays & Thursdays, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. To schedule an appointment outside of Office Hours, please contact global@si.edu.

The Office of International Relations is located at the following address:

The S. Dillon Ripley Center

International Center Suite 3123 (3rd level down)

1100 Jefferson Dr. SW

Washington, DC 20013-7012

J-1 Exchange Visitor Information

While in J-1 Exchange Visitor status under sponsorship of the Smithsonian, there are a number of items to consider while you are participating in the program:

Maintaining Your J-1 Status:

  • Report address and name changes within 10 days of the change or move to a new location to global@si.edu.
  • Engage only in the approved activities at the authorized location for which the DS-2019 was issued.
  • Maintain required documentation throughout the J-1 program to include: DS-2019, passport valid 6 months into the future, valid J-1 entry stamp/I-94 record.
  • Maintain the required level of health insurance coverage for yourself and your dependents (link to insurance information).
  • While traveling outside of the U.S., your absence must be brief (30 days or less) and must not constitute a break in activities. If your absence will be more than 30 days, discuss options with OFI and OIR.
  • 30 day grace period: Following the completion of your program (box 3 on DS-2019 form), you are allowed 30-day period of stay in the U.S. often referred to as “Grace Period.” During this 30-day grace period, you are no longer in J-visa status, and are under the jurisdiction of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS). CIS grants this period to allow participants to settle their affairs and to prepare to return to their home countries. Program participants may no longer continue to work and/or complete exchange activities. Although participants may travel in the United States, it is recommended that they do not travel beyond the borders of the United States as they may not be permitted reentry in J-1 Status.
  • Your family’s immigration status depends solely on your J-1 status.

J-1 Program Change of Dates:

Extensions

  • The J-1 Research Scholar Status can be extended up to a five year maximum
  • The J-1 Short Term Scholar Status can be extended up to a six month maximum

If you are planning to extend your J-1 program, your Smithsonian supervisor must submit notice of the intent to extend your program to both OFI and OIR. When OIR extends your DS-2019 form, the following information is required:

  • New Start and End Dates
  • Amount and source of funding for the extension period
  • Any changes to your original activities

The request for extension should be submitted at least 30 days prior to the end date listed on your DS-2019 form. If you have applied for a J-1 Waiver, you are not eligible for further extensions of your J-1 program.

Once your program has been extended, you will receive a new DS-2019 form with new program dates from OIR. You should keep both your original DS-2019 form and your new one.

Please note: Your new DS-2019 form extends your permission to remain in the United States as a J-1 Exchange Visitor, but it does not extend the J-1 visa stamp inside of your passport. Please remember that the J-1 visa is only needed to gain entry to the U.S. If you do not plan to leave the U.S. and re-enter during your J-1 program, it does not matter if your J-1 visa remains relevant or expires. However, if you plan to travel outside of the U.S. and return during your J-1 program, you must have both a valid DS-2019 and valid visa. You may only obtain a new J-1 visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad (outside of the U.S.)

Early Terminations

If you will be departing the Smithsonian 30 days or more before the end date on your DS-2019 form, you should notify your supervisor, OFI and OIR. OIR will shorten your J-1 program dates on your DS-2019 form.

Transfer In/ Transfer Out:

As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, you are eligible to transfer your J-1 status to/from other institutions who host J-1 Exchange Visitors in the same J-1 category that you hold. (For example, if you are a J-1 Exchange Visitor in the Research Scholar Category, you can transfer to another sponsor that hosts J-1 Research Scholars.)

Currently, the Smithsonian hosts:

  • J-1 Research Scholar (Maximum 5 Years)
  • J-1 Short Term Scholar (Maximum 6 Months)
  • J-1 Specialist (Maximum 1 Year)
  • J-1 Government Visitor (Maximum 18 Months)

Transfer In

If you currently hold J-1 Exchange Visitor Status in any of the categories listed above, you are eligible to transfer your J-1 status to the Smithsonian you have been invited by a Smithsonian staff member/supervisor to engage in qualifying activities at the Smithsonian.  You should follow the steps below to transfer your J-1 sponsorship from your current sponsoring institution to the Smithsonian:

Procedures

  1. Contact your J-1 Responsible Officer at your current sponsor and ask that they initiate a transfer to the Smithsonian.
  2. Provide all previous and current copies of your DS-2019 form to the Smithsonian Office of International Relations.
  3. Your current J-1 sponsor must approve your “release” in the SEVIS system to the Smithsonian before the Smithsonian can access your SEVIS record and issue you a DS-2019 form.
  4. After your transfer has been initiated, you should depart your current sponsor on or before your scheduled date of transfer.
  5. Upon your arrival to the Smithsonian, please report to the Office of International Relations to check in and receive your new DS-2019 form.

Transfer Out

If the Smithsonian is currently sponsoring you in J-1 Exchange Visitor Status and you have received an offer to engage in activities at another J-1 Sponsoring Institution, you should follow the steps below to begin the process of transferring your J-1 status to your new institution.

Procedures

  1. Contact the Office of International Relations to discuss your plans to transfer out.
  2. Work with your supervisor to provide written notice to the Office of International Relations agreeing to your new program end date (in the case that it is different from your original end date).
  3. Contact the J-1 Responsible Officer at the new institution to request instructions on the procedure to transfer in to the new university.
    • Obtain the program number of the institution
    • Confirm the contact information for J-1 Responsible Officer at the new Institution
    • Discuss a release date.
  4. With the information listed above, OIR will schedule your transfer on the agreed upon release date.

Incidental Employment

J-1 Exchange Visitors must engage only in the approved activities at the specific location for which the DS-2019 form was issued. To engage in any type of work or paid activity for any employer/institution other than the Smithsonian, you must first obtain approval in writing from your J-1 Responsible Officer. To do so, contact global@si.edu. Note that the proposed employment:

  • Must be directly related to the objectives of your Exchange Visitor program;
  • Must be incidental to your primary program activities (short-term in nature)
  • Must not delay the completion of your Exchange Visitor program.

What Should I Know About Taxes?

Tax requirements for international interns and fellows vary based on duration and purpose of visit and your country of citizenship. The Office of Fellowships and Internships provides some guidance on this topic.

Do I Need a Social Security Card?

Social Security Numbers are issued for tax purposes only. They are used to identify you within the government tax and pension system. Accordingly, you do not need a Social Security number to:

  • open a bank account
  • rent an apartment
  • open a utility account (e.g. electricity, gas)
  • set up a cell phone account
  • register your children for school
  • conduct business with other financial institutions
  • receive a driver’s license

If a business representative or service provider asks you for a Social Security number, simply inform him/her that you are an international visitor and do not have a Social Security Card.

However, as a nonimmigrant in the U.S., you will need a Social Security Number if you plan to engage in paid employment. A Social Security card is not proof of work authorization.

Procedures

To apply for an SSN go to the nearest Social Security Office (locations and addresses provided below) and bring the following:

  • Completed SSN Application: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf
  • Your Internship/Fellowship Offer letter from OFI
  • Your passport, original and copy. It must be at least one year old or you will need a second form of photo ID in English.
  • I-94 (print out from cbp.gov/I94)

**You may apply for a social security number 10 days after you have checked in with OIR.**

When you apply for an SSN, ask the service representative to give you a receipt for your application. After you turn in your application to a social security representative, your documents will be returned to you. You will receive your SSN card by mail several weeks later.

Social Security Office Locations:

The phone number for all offices is: 1-800-772-1213 Offices are open Monday-Friday from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Maryland

Silver Spring Office Suite 304 10230 New Hampshire Ave. Silver Spring, MD 20903

Rockville Office 315 N Washington Street Rockville, MD 20850

Greenbelt Office Maryland Corporate Center 7401C Forbes Blvd. Seabrook, MD 20706

Washington, DC

DC Office 2100 M Street NW Washington, DC 20037

Virginia

Alexandria Office Plaza 500 Suite 190 6295 Edsall Road Alexandria, VA 22312

Arlington Office Suite 200 1401 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA 22209

Do I Need Health Insurance?

OFI provides comprehensive information regarding health insurance. However, it is important to note that the Department of State requires all J-1 Exchange Visitors to purchase insurance that meets the following levels of coverage:

  • The J-1 (as well as J-2 dependent) is required to maintain health insurance for the entire period of the program indicated on the DS-2019.
  • The health insurance must cover all accompanying dependents in J-2 status, with the same terms as below.
Accident or Illness Coverage (Amount of the cost of care that the insurance plan will cover) $100,000 minimum for each accident or illness
Evacuation (Insurance to cover the cost of return travel home due to serious illness) $50,000 minimum
Repatriation  (Insurance to cover the cost to send your remains to your home country in the unlikely event should you die in the United States) $25,000 minimum
Deductible (Amount you are responsible to pay before insurance begins its coverage) $500 maximum

Rating: Any insurance policy, plan, or contract must, at a minimum, be underwritten by an insurance corporation having one of the following: an A.M. Best rating of ”A-” or above; a McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying Ability rating of ”A-” or above; a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of ”B+” or above; a Fitch Ratings, Inc. rating of ”A-” or above; a Moody’s Investor Services rating of ”A3” or above; or such other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify; or be backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor’s home country; or part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor; or offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization or eligible Competitive Medical Plan as determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

How do I Choose Insurance that’s right for me?

If you have specific questions regarding health insurance as it pertains to J-1 Exchange Visitors, contact the Office of International Relations at Global@si.edu.

 

After Arrival

How do I get to my internship or fellowship on a daily basis?

You can use the WMATA to get to your internship or the Smithsonian shuttle service. More information about transportation is available in the Academic Appointment Handbook.

What do I wear to my internship/fellowship?

All offices have different dress codes so ask your intern/fellow coordinator before arriving.

What are the perks/discounts associated with my academic appointment?

  • 20% discount at all Smithsonian Museum Stores
  • 20% discount at the National Gallery of Art Museum Stores
  • Reduced rate at selected Smithsonian public food facilities
  • Reduced rate at the National Gallery of Art public food facilities
  • Use of Smithsonian staff food facilities (food served is already discounted)
  • One free IMAX, Planetarium or Butterfly Pavilion ticket/week, subject to availability (does not include
  • special feature-length commercial movies), and additional tickets at a reduced rate
  • Free weekday parking after 3p.m. and weekend parking at NASM and NMNH
  • Free parking at NASM’s Udvar-Hazy Center
  • Use of the physical fitness facility at NASM
  • Smithsonian Library card
  • Free membership in the Agricultural Federal Credit Union (visit the branch in the basement of the
  • Smithsonian Castle)
  • Scholarship applications to selected TSA courses, seminars and lectures
  • Free admission to other non-Smithsonian museum who have reciprocity with the Smithsonian

If I am awarded an internship or fellowship, will that guarantee me a job when the appointment is over?

No. You will gain excellent knowledge and experience by participating in the appointment. Information on employment at the Smithsonian Institution can be found online at here.

Should interns check in with OFI on arrival?

Check-ins for interns are optional, but all interns are strongly encourage to attend an OFI New Academic Appointee Orientation. Find out when the next one is happening here.

Should our fellows check in with OFI on arrival?

Yes. All fellows should schedule an appointment with their OFI liaison. Not sure who that is? Call 202-63-7070.

An intern/fellow is a non-U.S. Citizen. Does the intern/fellow need to check in with the Office of International Relations?

Foreign interns and fellows should check in with Office of International Relations after they arrive.

I have an incoming international intern/fellow, which visa type should they choose?

Visas are very case dependent. There are many variables that are taken into consideration. This includes previous entry into the US, paid vs. unpaid appointment, length of stay, and country of residence. Reach out to Office of International Relations (OIR) for further guidance. Their email is global@si.edu.

How does the ID process work?

All academic appointees in residence for 30 days or longer should have received paperwork from the museum unit for a background clearance to be sent or delivered to the Office of Protection Services (OPS) Personnel Security and ID Office.  The intern/fellow should make an appointment with OPS using the OPS appointment scheduler.

Are Interns or Fellows eligible for Workers' Compensation for on-the-job injuries?

If a fellow is injured or becomes ill during the appointment, he/she is generally not eligible for workers’ comp. If an intern is injured or becomes ill during the internship, he/she may be eligible for workers’ comp, depending on the circumstances.

Do academic appointees hold copyright for their work at the Smithsonian?

Fellows and Research Associates hold the first right of publication of their works for at least 3 years after the end of their appointment, unless there is a written agreement that provides otherwise. Copyright to intern works belong to the Smithsonian.

How can I request a reasonable accommodation for my Intern/Fellow with a disability?

Reasonable accommodations can be requested orally or in writing from:

  • Intern Coordinators
  • Sponsor or supervisor
  • Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator in OEEMA
  • Accessibility Program Managers

Contacts for reasonable accommodations are:

  • Carol Gover, OEEMA
  • Krista Flores, AP

 

Stipends

Do all Internships or Fellowship have stipends?

Each internship and fellowship is different. To find out which programs provide a stipend go to our website http://www.smithsonianofi.com.  For more information you may contact the intern or fellow coordinator listed with each program.

Do interns/fellows receive IRS Form W-2’s or Form 1099’s?

Since interns/fellows are stipend recipients and not contractors or employees, they do not receive a W-2. They will, however, receive a Financial Statement if they are a U.S. Resident and a 1042S if they are a non-U.S. resident. Recipients will be notified by mail around February or March.

Do interns/fellows receive pay stubs?

Since the IRS does not consider interns, fellows, and other stipend recipients to be employees of the Smithsonian, we do not provide pay stubs.

Do interns and fellow have to report stipends to the IRS?

It is the responsibility of interns and fellows to report their stipend earnings to the IRS. OFI cannot offer any specific guidance on how to file taxes, since we are not tax experts. However, we recommend you refer to the IRS website for specific instruction. See here and for more, here.

If I’m receiving a stipend when will I get payments?

Stipend payments are released on the 10th and 25th of each month. The frequency of your payments will be explained in your award letter.

Why are there limits on SI stipend award amounts, especially compared to other agencies?

At the Smithsonian academic appointees are not considered employees and SI stipends are issued not as compensation but to defray living expenses during the tenure of the appointment. As such, SI stipend levels are set to be comparable with other organizations that issue stipends in a similar way. Some agencies outside SI offer fellowships as a form of salaried employment. Those that do are able to set their fellow payments with market wage rates, but are also obligated to pay full benefits, withhold taxes, etc…as with any other job. Because the Smithsonian handles stipends not as salary, but more as a grant or form of scholarship, or stipend levels cannot compete with market wages but can be offered to defray living expenses during the tenure of an internship or fellowship.

Can fellows use unit funds to purchase non-SI health insurance?

Yes, unit funds can be used to purchase non-SI health insurance, but the unit must include a note on the AAF indicating that funds are to be released to fellow for that purpose.

Our unit has received some additional funds, so we would like to provide our unpaid intern with a stipend. Can we do this?

Yes, as long as you allow six weeks for processing the stipend, and total payment does not exceed stipend cap levels. Please note that however that payments cannot be made retroactively.

The intern/fellow is a non-U.S. Citizen. When will he/she receive their initial payment?

All non-U.S. Citizens should contact OFI to schedule an appointment to check-in, verify their visa status, and complete the necessary tax forms associated with their appointment. An electronic pre-check in is available to begin the process before arrival in DC. Initial payments generally received within four weeks after the date of their check-in appointment with OFI if all the required visa and tax forms are provided.

What is the maximum stipend for Interns and Fellows?

The maximum stipend for interns is $600/week, and may include a one-time travel allowance. The maximum stipend for predoctoral fellows is generally $32,700/year and for postdoctoral fellows is, $48,000/year.  For fellowships in Conservatory Science, Earth Science or Space Science add $5,000.

 

Health Insurance

Definition: Primary Care Provider (PCP)

A primary contact for the insured person. With some plans, a referral from your PCP will be needed to see a specialist.

Definition: Coinsurance

A form of medical cost sharing that requires the insured person to pay a stated percentage of medical expenses after the deductible amount.

Definition: Copay

Payment required at the time of service.

Definition: Deductible

A fixed dollar amount that the insured person will pay for health costs during a specific time period (usually one year) before the insurance company will begin to pay for covered expenses.

Definition: Premium

Fees paid on a monthly basis for coverage in a health insurance plan.

Definition: Maximum out of pocket

The maximum dollar amount an insured person is required to spend on medical costs during a year.

Who is eligible to enroll?

Fellows who are here for three months or longer are eligible to enroll in an SI offered health insurance plan.

Do I have to enroll in SI health insurance?

No, you are more than welcome to find a health insurance plan outside SI.

Where do I go to find outside insurance?

To find out more information about health insurance offered outside of SI, you can visit www.healthcare.gov . As these are non-SI health insurance plans, OFI cannot provide you with any assistance.

Why can’t OFI provide me with more information about outside health insurance?

We understand that the healthcare system can be quite confusing and difficult to maneuver. However, we can only provide guidance about the plans we are responsible for. We will try to provide as much general information about health insurance as possible, but we encourage our fellows to research policies and practices on their own.

Where can I find more information about the plans offered by SI?

An informational packet including monthly premiums and a summary of benefits for the plans offered can be found here.

Can I get insurance for my spouse and/or dependents?

Yes, you can choose to enroll in a Family plan.

How do I know specifically what is covered under each plan?

The informational packet (see above) has a lot of information about what is covered and what you will be required to pay. If you need additional information about a specific circumstance, please contact OFI and we will do our best to assist you.

How much will I pay for each plan?

Monthly premiums will be deducted each month from your stipend. The premium amounts can be found on the third page here.

How long do I have to make a decision?

Fellows have 60 days from the start of their appointment to log in to Secova and enroll in an SI plan. However, since your decision affects how your stipend payments are scheduled, we recommend that you inform OFI of your decision as soon as possible.

What do I do when I decide?

Please email Emily Murphy at murphye@si.edu once you have made your decision. If you would like to enroll, you will need to wait until the Wednesday after your start date to log in to Secova.

How do I enroll?

Click the link for a walkthrough on how to enroll – Health Insurance Screenshots

SI is currently using an online self-enrollment portal named Secova. You can find instructions for logging in here. Please be aware: Secova was created for employees, and therefore contains information that does not apply to fellows. Secova will show a much lower premium amount than the information provided to you – unfortunately, there is nothing OFI can do to reflect the correct premiums for fellows in Secova.

If you do not have an SSN, you will be assigned a placeholder number which can be used to log into Secova. If you are not contacted with that number, please contact OFI.

I forgot my password, what do I do? I tried logging in, but an error message appears. What do I do?

Secova has a technical support call center for log in issues. You should call (877)698-9781 if you are locked out or cannot remember your password.

Why does it have a much lower price in the Secova system?

Secova was created for and is used by SI staff. Since fellows are not staff, much of the information will not apply. Unfortunately, OFI cannot manipulate Secova to reflect accurate information for fellows.

When will I get my health insurance card?

Health insurance enrollment cards are mailed to the U.S. address provided and will generally arrive in 2-3 weeks.

When is my insurance effective?

Regardless of when you enroll within your first 60 days, your health insurance will be effective on your start date. You will be covered retroactively and will be responsible for the premiums.

What if I need to go to the doctor before I receive my enrollment card?

Generally after a week the insurance company will have your information, and you can call them to get your ID number. If you need your ID number immediately, please contact OFI. You can also pay out of pocket and submit a claim once your information is in the system.

Will I be covered while I’m traveling?

The only plan offered that will cover you while traveling is the CareFirst PPO plan.

What is a PCP and how do I choose one?

Your Primary Care Physician is your main point of contact for health concerns. With many plans you must obtain a referral from your PCP before seeing a specialist. You can find a list of PCPs on the insurance carrier’s website.

Can I change or cancel my plan? If so, when and how?

There are three instances where you are eligible to enroll, cancel, or change plans:

  • Within 60 days of the start of the fellowship, but not before the first Wednesday after your fellowship begins because updates to Secova are done on Tuesday of each week.  Please note that health insurance will be effective on the first day of the fellowship.
  • During open‐enrollment season which takes place mid‐Nov through mid‐Dec of each year.  Fellows may also change or terminate their coverage during this period, as well.  However, these enrollments/changes/terminations are not effective until Jan 1 of the following year.
  • Within 30 days of a Qualifying Life Event (QLE). Some of the most popular QLEs are purchasing non‐Smithsonian health insurance, recently married and now on spouse’s coverage, or lost prior coverage.  Fellows may enroll or terminate coverage due to a QLE, but must do so in Secova and must provide supporting documentation to support this claim. Please note that travel insurance is not health insurance so does not qualify for a QLE.

If you wish to change your enrollment during one of these times, please contact OFI for assistance.

Will my premiums ever increase?

Yes, premiums increase at the beginning of every calendar year. This increase will be reflected in your stipend payments.

How will the premium be deducted from my stipend?

The monthly premium will be subtracted from your gross stipend payment before being released to you. If you have questions about your specific situation, please contact OFI.

When will I get my health allowance?

If you were awarded a health allowance as part of your fellowship and you choose to enroll in an SI plan your allowance will be evenly divided and lumped into your regular gross payment.

Is my health allowance taxable?

Yes, if OFI determines that taxes will be withheld from your award then your health allowance will be taxed.

Sample Payment

Here is a sample payment with a health insurance premium deduction. The gross is your regular stipend payment, the deduction is the monthly premium for the plan you’ve chosen, and the net is the difference – this is what you should see in your bank account.

Gross:                                     Deduction:                              Net:                        Due Date:

$4,000.00                               $482.87                              $3,517.13                      3/25/15

Who should I contact if I have more questions about SI health insurance or Secova?

If you have any questions or concerns during the decision making or enrollment process, please contact OFI at 202.633.7070. You can ask specifically for Emily Murphy (murphye@si.edu) or Dora Blair (blairtl@si.edu).

 

Definitions

Academic Appointment

At the Smithsonian there are three types of academic appointments: internships, fellowships, and research associate appointments.Academic appointments are distinct from other categories such as staff, contractors, and volunteers.

Internship

Smithsonian internships are learning experiences guided by a Smithsonian mentor. The aim of an internship is an educational training experience made for the benefit of the intern and required hands-on guidance.

Fellowship

Smithsonian fellowships are opportunities for independent study and research that make use of SI experts, facilities and collections under the advice of a Smithsonian adviser.

Research Associate

Smithsonian research associates are nominated by a SI sponsor and maintain a scholarly affiliation with the Institution. Research Associate appointments at the Smithsonian are authorized by Smithsonian Directive 205 (SD 205).

 

For SI Staff

How do I appoint an intern, fellow, or research associate?

At the Smithsonian, academic appointments can be made in two ways, through SOLAA (Smithsonian Oline Academic Appointment System) or SOFIAA  (The Smithsonian OFI Academic Appointment System). SOLAA is an electronic platform through which applicants enter and submit their own data for review and approval as an academic appointee.  The staff portal for SOLAA is here. To request a SOLAA account, ask your unit’s academic appointment coordinator to help you submit this form. SOFIAA (The Smithsonian Office of Fellowships and Internships Academic Appointment) form is an electronic webform through which SI staff enter and submit data on behalf of appointees for review and approval as an academic appointee. Staff use their network login credentials to access SOFIAA here. To request access to SOFIAA, ask your unit’s academic appointment coordinator for help.

How do I achieve diversity in my appointments without illegally discriminating?

There are many ways to appoint diverse interns or fellows in ways that are not discriminatory, by considering these race-neutral factors:

  • Socioeconomic status
  • First-generation college status
  • Geographic residency
  • Foreign language proficiency
  • Expertise in a specific culture
  • Experience overcoming hardships, such as frequent moves growing up or enrollment in a low-preforming high school or district