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J-1 Scholars

OISS is happy to provide support to all incoming J-1 scholars to MSU. Below you will find a helpful list of steps you should take prior to your arrival and within your first few days on campus.

Before You Leave

Read All Documents and Check for Errors

Upon receiving your DS-2019 and accompanying documents from your MSU host department, please carefully read all enclosed materials.

When you receive your DS-2019, please review it carefully for any errors. Contact your MSU host department and jvisas(at) immediately if you find an error on your DS-2019.

Pay the SEVIS Fee

Prior to your visa interview, you must pay the SEVIS Fee. 

The fee for J-1 scholars is $220.

Learn more about the SEVIS fee on our SEVIS Fee Facts webpage.

Schedule Your Visa Interview

Contact the nearest US Embassy or Consulate and schedule an interview appointment for a J-1 visa. Find your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Plan to Buy Required Health Insurance

Health insurance is required for all scholars and dependents in J-1 and J-2 status. All J-1 scholars will be required to show proof of insurance in order to complete the check-in process. 

If your J-2 dependents will arrive in the U.S. with you, proof of health insurance for your dependents will be required as well. 

If your J-2 dependents will arrive later in your program, your dependents must check in with OISS upon arrival and show proof of health insurance. 

Decide how you will arrange for health insurance during your stay in the U.S. If you will be an employee of MSU, then your health insurance may be covered by your host department. If you are not sure whether your host department will provide insurance, please ask your host department.

If your health insurance is not provided by your host department, you must decide if you will buy a health insurance policy from your home country that meets J-1 health insurance requirements or purchase a health insurance policy in the U.S. soon after your arrival. 

You may choose to buy health insurance through MSU. Learn more about the Blue Care Network (BCN) policy  available to J-1 scholars and J-2 dependents. J-1 scholars must use the Health Insurance Enrollment Form for Visiting Scholars to enroll in the BCN policy. If you choose to buy another health insurance policy from the U.S., please email ihealth(at) for a list of options. 

Learn more about Health Insurance in the U.S.

Find a Place to Live

Your department will assist you in finding permanent housing. Please tell your department about your housing preferences. Or you can also search for housing on your own. 

Learn more about finding a place to live in East Lansing

If you will not have permanent housing arranged before arriving in East Lansing, reserve a room at a hotel in East Lansing before traveling to the U.S. For MSU rates it is best to reserve your hotel through an MSU preferred travel agent. You can reserve a hotel room yourself directly with the hotel. Ask for the MSU rate.

Recommended hotels and inns in the East Lansing area

Prepare for Travel

We do not recommend that you purchase plane tickets until your J-1 visa is granted. When you are shopping for tickets, please note that your flight may land in either Lansing or Detroit.

If your flight arrives in Detroit, buy a one-way ticket, in advance, to ride on the Michigan Flyer bus from the Detroit Metropolitan Airport to the East Lansing Marriott. We do not recommend taking a taxi because it is a very expensive two-hour drive from Detroit to East Lansing. Taxis will be available at the bus stop in East Lansing to take you to your temporary hotel or permanent residence. 

If your flight arrives in Lansing, taxis will be available take you to your temporary hotel or permanent residence. 

Once You Arrive

An email detailing free transportation options to campus from the Lansing Airport and the Michigan Flyer bus from Detroit will be sent to all incoming international students via email in July 2020. Should you have questions about arrival and/or transportation, please contact Vicky Lee, Student Engagement Coordinator at OISS.

Delays in Travel and Arrival

If unexpected events cause your arrival to be delayed more than 20 days after the start date on your DS-2019 you must notify your MSU host department and jvisas(at) immediately. OISS must work with your host department to create a new DS-2019 for you with a later start date. 

After You Arrive

Check in at OISS

Our office is located in Room 105 of the International Center. It is very important that all newly-arrived scholars check in with the OISS as soon as possible after arrival. When you check in, the reception staff will schedule you for the next available orientation session.

  • Your must check in at OISS as soon as possible after arrival.

  • Bring the following documents and information with you:
    • Passport
    • DS-2019
    • U.S. residential address
    • U.S. telephone number
    • Email address
    • Names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses for people we can contact if you have an emergency
    • Health insurance proof (enrollment with confirmation and policy details)

  • OISS will require proof of your health insurance before we can complete your government check-in. If we determine your policy does not meet the J-1 regulatory requirements, we cannot accept your insurance or validate your J-1 record. You will be required to submit proof of enrollment into another policy or purchase additional coverage. 
    Learn more about the J-1 health insurance requirement. 
  • You may not yet have a residential address or a U.S. telephone number right away. You can provide a temporary or hotel address during check-in.

  • When you move to a permanent residential address and get a U.S. telephone number, you must report this to OISS within 10 days of the change by emailing jvisas(at)

    Learn more about finding a place to live in East Lansing
  • If you get an MSU email account you must report your MSU email to jvisas(at)

Attend Orientation

J-1 Exchange Visitor Orientation takes place every Friday at 10 am in Room 105 of the International Center.