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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. 

f 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 purchase the Blue Care Network (BCN) policy for yourself and your J-2 dependents. J-1 scholars must use the Health Insurance Enrollment Form for Visiting Scholars to enroll in the BCN policy. 

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

You must check in with OISS via the MyOISS portal as soon as possible after arrival.

  • To complete your check-in, you will need to provide the following information and upload the following documents into the MyOISS portal::
    • Passport biographical page
    • 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
    • Proof of enrollment into a qualifying MSU health insurance policy
  • OISS will require proof of your health insurance before we can complete your government check-in. You will be required to submit proof of enrollment into an MSU insurance policy.
    • If you are an MSU benefits-eligible employee, you will need to enroll into one of the three qualifying employee-based policies through BCN, Community Blue (non-CDHP), or Cigna.
    • If you are a non-benefits eligible employee or not an MSU employee, you will need to enroll into the MSU Student BCN policy. 
  • 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.