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F-1 and J-1 Students




 International Student Orientation In-Person Event Resources:

Student Event Schedule

Parent/Family Member Event Schedule 

Dining Hall and Orientation Assistant Assignments

All In-Person Event Locations Campus Map

Campus Engagement Locations Campus Map



Welcome, Global Spartan! Congratulations on your admission to Michigan State University (MSU). We look forward to assisting with your transition to the university and welcoming you to campus.



As a new international student, you are required to complete two orientation programs – International Student Orientation and New Student Orientation (NSO).

International Student Orientation will focus specifically on what you need to know as an international student while studying at Michigan State University.

New Student Orientation (NSO) is required for ALL new students*, not just international students. You will receive information about NSO directly from the New Student Orientation Office. Please contact NSO directly at nso(at)

*Graduate students are not required to do NSO but are required to do International Student Orientation.  



What to expect from International Student Orientation:

Desire2Learn (D2L) Modules

Desire2Learn (D2L) is MSU's online learning system. Instructors use D2L to give students access to course materials, collaboration, submission of assignments, online testing, grades and other resources. Learning how to use D2L is an important step in getting ready to study at MSU. 

The International Student Orientation D2L modules will consist of:

  • Getting to know OISS
  • Immigration and Arrival
  • Health Insurance and Healthcare
  • Life in the U.S.
  • Next Steps and Resources 

You will receive additional communication from OISS when the D2L modules are available as well as when they need to be completed. 


Welcome Weekly Newsletter 

As an international student you will be automatically added to our newsletter list. You will receive a biweekly newsletter in your MSU email. This newsletter will have important information and reminders to help you prepare for your arrival to East Lansing - make sure to read through carefully so you don't miss anything! 

Click here for previous Welcome Weekly Newsletters!


Orientation Assistants

You will be assigned an Orientation Assistant. Your Orientation Assistant will be an international or domestic undergraduate student currently studying at MSU. They will be available to assist with your transition experience, reinforce important messages from OISS, share personal stories and advice, and support with in-person orientation activities as you arrive and adjust to campus.


In-Person Welcome Events

OISS will have some in-person welcome events planned to help you adjust to campus and connect with other students. Participation is not required though it is highly encouraged. 


 Other Information and Resources:

I-20 and DS-2019 Issuance

Once you have provided all required documentation to the Office Admissions, please plan for 2-3 weeks for your I-20 or DS-2019 to be issued.

To check the status of your I-20 or DS-2019, after you have reached the 2-3 week timeline, please email oiss(at)

To check the status of your admission to MSU, please contact either the Office of Admissions or The Graduate School directly. 

SEVIS I-901 Fee

What is the SEVIS fee?

The SEVIS fee is a one-time fee that covers the costs of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Regulation requires all prospective students to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee before the Department of State issues you a visa.

To obtain your visa, you will need a printed receipt indicating that you have paid the SEVIS I-901 fee. This fee must be paid before you arrive for your visa interview. You should keep receipt of payment with your other immigration documents. 

To pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, visit

Check the Paying the I-901 SEVIS Fee page from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for more information. 

U.S. Visa

What is a Visa? 

A visa is a stamp or sticker placed in your passport and is used only to seek entry into the U.S. 

A visa alone does not guarantee entry into the U.S. Customs and Border Protection makes the final decision on your eligibility to enter the U.S. and can deny entry.

Canadian Citizens: Do not require a visa to enter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 student status but do require an I-20 or DS-2019.


Where do I get a U.S. visa? 

You must obtain a U.S. visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of the U.S. It is recommended that you apply in your country of citizenship. 

Although it is possible for students to apply for visas at U.S. consulates in Canada, Mexico, and other countries, the risk of denial may be higher. If a visa denial is received when a student applies in another country, the applicant is required to return directly to the home country to reapply at the local U.S. consulate. If denial or visa delay occurs, the applicant may not return to the U.S. before receiving a new visa. 

Find an embassy or consulate.


How long does it take to get a visa? 

View the estimated U.S. visa appointment wait times to review the current wait time for a visa interview. 


What do I need to apply for a student visa? 

You can find a list of required documentation on the Department of State website. 


What is non-immigrant intent?

All applicants for a F or J visa are required to demonstrate their intent to return to their home country following the completion of their academic programs. The visa applicant is required to prove ties to the home country and establish "non-immigrant intent."

You can read more information from the U.S. Department of State about the requirement to demonstrate ties to your home country.  


What if the information on my visa stamp is for a previous SEVIS ID? 

If you have a valid visa stamp in your passport, you may be able to use that stamp to enter the United States. You are encouraged to contact the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country to determine whether or not you may use that visa stamp to enter the United States.


Additional resources on applying for a visa: 

10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Student Visa 

Overview of the Student Visa Process

Early Arrival Health Insurance

Health insurance coverage for the Fall 2023 semester begins on August 16, 2023. MSU students entering the United States before August 16 should buy early arrival health insurance coverage to ensure they have access to health care the entire time they are inside the country. Early arrival coverage costs $6 per day and can be purchased for any number of days. 

To apply for the early arrival coverage, please use this application form: Early Arrival Health Insurance – Fall 2023

When the application form is complete, you should send it to MSU Human Resources - SolutionsCenter(at)

IMPORTANT: You must send in your health insurance application from your email address and use the following subject line for the email: IS Early Arrival Application #encrypt

Using “#encrypt” in the subject line will protect the email message and the attached application form, which is very important since it will contain credit/debit card information. 

Please contact ihealth(at) with any questions or concerns.

Department or College Specific Orientation: Graduate Students

Your academic department or college will email you with department or college specific orientation information. If you have not received an email from your department or college, contact them directly. Most departments and colleges have graduate program directors or secretaries. They are often the best person to contact for this information. You can usually find staff directories on department and college websites. A department and program directory is available to find appropriate contact information.  

Earliest Arrival Date

The earliest date that students with an initial I-20 or DS-2019 can attempt to enter the U.S. is 30 days before the program start date. 

Latest Arrival Date

New students should enter the U.S. by the start of classes. If you will not enter the U.S. by the start of classes, email OISS at oiss(at)

Documents Required to Enter the U.S.: F-1 and J-1 Students

In order to enter the United States, students must present the following documents to the immigration inspector at the port of entry:

  • A valid passport (valid six months beyond the date of entry)
  • A valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp (not required for Canadians)
  • A valid I-20 or DS-2019 Form
  • A copy of your SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt
  • Original financial documentation
  • Admission letter from MSU

Documents Required to Enter the U.S.: F-2 and J-2 Dependents

Documents Needed to Enter the U.S. in F-2 or J-2 Status: 

  • A valid F-2 I-20 or J-2 DS-2019 issued by MSU
  • A valid F-2 or J-2 visa stamp
  • A valid passport (valid six months beyond the date of entry) 

Required Immigration Check-In After Arriving in the U.S.

International Students in F-1 and J-1 status must complete Immigration Check-In online with OISS. After arriving in the U.S. students will be required to fill out a check-in form online. A step-by-step guide to completing immigration check-in will be emailed to students for whom check-in is required. OISS staff will review your check-in submission and follow up with you by email if any further information is required. 

OISS Advising

OISS advisors are available to meet and answer your questions virtually via Zoom.

Students on F-1 and J-1 visas are assigned to a specific OISS advisor based on the student's birth month. 

You can find your advisor on the OISS Advising Team page