Language Proficiency Interview (LPI)

J-1 Exchange Scholar applicants may demonstrate their English oral proficiency through a Language Proficiency Interview (LPI) conducted via Skype by Penn State’s English for Professional Purposes Intercultural Center (EPPIC).  After completing the interview and paying the required interview fee, applicants will receive the results of their English language proficiency interview, which will also be uploaded to the I-Start system as part of their visa application materials.

Scheduling & Fees

  • Language Proficiency Interviews are scheduled in 30 minute time blocks, and are conducted via Skype.  Interview appointments can be scheduled via the on-line LPI registration portal at
  • The interview fee is $70.  Payment of the fee can be submitted through our payment page.
  • LPI appointments may be cancelled through a link provided in the confirmation e-mail.  Appointments that are cancelled at least 24 hours in advance of the scheduled time can be rescheduled with no additional fee; late cancellations will forfeit the interview fee.

About the LPI

  • The oral interview lasts 15-20 minutes, and is designed to assess the scholar's proficiency in spoken English.  The interview session includes discussion of the scholar's academic interests, conversation about everyday topics, and a role-play involving an everyday situation the scholar is likely to encounter while visiting the United States.
  • At the start of the interview, the scholar will be asked to show the interviewer a form of official identification that includes a recent photo and his/her name written in Latin script.
  • Scholars may not consult any written materials or other external resources (people, websites, on-line translators, dictionaries) during the interview.

LPI Scoring

An interview assessment report will be sent to the scholar within five business days after the interview (not including Saturdays and Sundays).  The report will indicate one of three possible ratings: 1) Recommended, 2) Recommended with Support, or 3) Not Recommended.

‘Recommended’:  The candidate receiving a rating of 'recommended' rating is considered to have the language skills necessary to navigate daily life in the U.S., to request assistance if necessary, and to perform J-1 program duties.

‘Recommended with Support':  The candidate receiving a rating of ‘recommended with support’ is considered to have adequate English to carry out his or her program duties, but is strongly encouraged to seek additional English language support upon arrival at Penn State to strengthen his or her communication skills in English.  J-1 applicants in this category will receive information about English language learning support programs that are available to them at Penn State, including the English for Professional Purposes Intercultural Center (EPPIC), the Mid-State Literacy Council, and Global Connections

‘Not Recommended':  The candidate receiving a rating of 'not recommended' is considered not to have the English language skills necessary to carry out a visiting scholar program successfully at Penn State.  Applicants receiving this rating are encouraged to pursue additional English language instruction and practice in their home countries before re-applying for an Exchange Scholar visa.

 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) (pdf)




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