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F-1/J-1 International Students
Frequently Asked Questions
Family/Life in Ann Arbor
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- How do I become a student at University of Michigan?
- To study at the University of Michigan, you must apply to and be admitted to an official program of study through one of our Admissions Offices. If you are a prospective undergraduate you should find the Undergraduate Admissions web site helpful. To ask a question of Undergraduate Admissions Staff, you may use this web site to inquire. Simply click “Ask us”. If you would like to find more information on available programs of study at the graduate level, you should examine the list of Graduate Schools and Colleges. The Rackham School of Graduate Studies is the largest graduate level unit, to which most doctoral programs require admission.
- Where can I find information on financial aid?
- Financial aid opportunities are limited for international students. The University of Michigan has an Office of Financial Aid which is the primary resource of information on scholarships/financial aid.
- Do I need to have a health check/immunizations before getting my visa or coming to the United States?
- University of Michigan does NOT require any immunizations or a health check in order for you to attend school. Also, the U.S. government does NOT require you to have immunizations or tests in order to obtain your F-1 or J-1 visa. However, the University Health Service(UHS) does recommend certain immunizations. As of Fall 2006, the University of Michigan does require certain entering international students to be screened for tuberculosis (TB) upon arrival to campus. the University Health Service has detailed information on this requirement. Screening will be free, confidential and treatment will have minimal cost. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Am I required to pay I-901 SEVIS fee?
- The Department of Homeland Security requires a fee of $200 for all new F-1 and $180 for J-1 program applicants to cover the costs of the operation of the SEVIS program. If you are issued a new I-20 or DS-2019 for “initial attendance” or “beginning a new program” you are required to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee. Change of level to a new degree program, transfer, extension, or other updates do not require you to pay a SEVIS fee. You can read more information on our web site and go to the official website for SEVIS fee information and payment. You can also pay the SEVIS fee online at the same web site. You should print a copy of the receipt and take it to your visa interview and when traveling to the U.S.
- What should I do if I apply for my visa and it is denied or delayed?
- The University of Michigan is committed to assisting our international students and scholars when possible, through our Visa Assistance Program. You should go to the Visa Assistance Web Form and complete all the information including your contact people at the University. The information gathered in this form will be sent to a U-M email group. The members of this group will take all possible steps to assist you with U-M related matters such as admission, enrollment, and employment. The U-M can also assist with suggestions and recommendations about best practices regarding visa requests and will advise on next steps.
- How do I “check-in” when I arrive to begin my program?
- If you arrive to the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 Student status, you are required to report to the International Center for a Mandatory Immigration Check-in. Make sure to contact our office to register for a check-in program immediately upon your arrival, as failure to check-in in a timely fashion may result in the loss of your legal status.
If you arrive in J-1 International Scholar status, please follow the instructions on the cover letter which was attached to your DS-2019. J-1 Check-In consists of two online presentations and a Physical Presence Check-In.
- How do I get a Social Security number?
- F-1 students are only eligible for a Social Security number (SSN) when employed on-campus or approved for off-campus work permission; eligible F-1 students and J-1 students may apply at the International Center for a social security letter and then apply to the Social Security Administration for the Social Security number. For more information on the procedures please refer to “Applying for a Social Security Number and Card”.
- Can I get a driver's license?
- State of Michigan Driver's Licenses and State of Michigan Personal Identification Cards are issued by the Secretary of State. New changes have taken effect on January 22, 2008. Please refer to “Michigan Driver's License or State Identification Card” for detailed information about the new requirements.
- I moved. How do I report my change of address?
- If you need instructions on how to use Wolverine Access to update your address, you should follow our Address Notification Guidelines. F-1 and J-1 status holders must report two personal addresses (current and permanent) in Wolverine Access within 10 days of a move. The “current” address must be your residential address in the United States. The “Permanent” address must be your home country residential address.
- I'm interested in finding a job. Can I work?
- U.S. government regulations require F-1/J-1 students to be in the U.S. for the primary purpose of attending school. In general, employment in the U.S. is restricted for students. On-campus employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session and available full time during school vacation and holidays. On-campus employment includes work done as a teaching or research assistant as well as jobs in the university library, dormitory dining facilities, laboratories, and administrative offices. On-campus also includes employment with on-location commercial firms which provide services for students on campus, such as stores or restaurants located in a University owned building (Michigan Union, Michigan League, Pierpont Commons). Under certain conditions you may be eligible for off-campus employment either in the form of practical training related to your academic program, or severe economic hardship employment authorization. You may not begin employment unless you have received official authorization. For more information, refer to Employment Options for F-1 Students or Employment Options for J-1 Students.
- What is the International Student full-time enrollment requirement?
- International students in F or J status must maintain full time enrollment. For continuing students, Spring/Summer is generally considered the vacation term while the main academic year is Fall and Winter terms. During the academic year, Undergrad students must take 12 credits, Grad students must take 8 credits, Grad students holding GSI/GSRA appointments during the semester may take 6 credits (all are minimum). Courses that you visit or audit do not count towards full-time enrollment for immigration purposes. In some cases, international students may receive permission from the U-M International Center to drop below full-time enrollment, including reduced course load, full time equivalency for graduate students, and concurrent enrollment.
- How does my spouse/child under 21 join me in the U.S. as my F-2/J-2 dependent?
- To obtain F-2/J-2 DS-2019 documents for your spouse and/or minor children under 21 years, please download and complete the I-20 Request Form to Add F-2 Dependents. Once you have completed the form and attached the necessary documents as stated on the request form, you should schedule an appointment with an International Student/Scholar Advisor. We will issue I-20/DS-2019 forms for your spouse/children to obtain F-2/J-2 status. Then, your family member will need to apply for and obtain the appropriate visa to enter U.S. (except Canadians) as your dependent. Your family will need official proof of your family ties, such as birth/marriage certificate.
- How do I invite family members to visit?
- Family members who are NOT children (under 21) or the spouse of the F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor should apply for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa. The B1/B2 visitor visa allows the individual to travel to the U.S. temporarily for business or tourism purposes. Family members from certain countries may be eligible to travel to the U.S. for visits of up to 90 days without a B-1/B-2 visa through the U.S. Department of State Visa Waiver Program. It is recommended that you give your family members a letter of invitation to document the purpose of their visit. Refer to Family Visitors to the U.S. for an invitation letter template and more details on the visa application requirements.
If you are inviting family members to attend your graduation ceremony, you can also request a special letter of invitation from the University of Michigan. Please refer to Preparing for Commencement: International Students for details. Please allow up to four weeks to receive the letter.
- How do I get verification of my enrollment or proof of my student standing?
- There are a few options for verification of student status. If you need proof of your enrollment, the Office of the Registrar may issue an official enrollment certification for course registration. Read about this, under category “Enrollment Certification” on the Office of the Registrar web site. Your academic department may also be a helpful source to verify your program progress or academic standing. The International Center offers an “immigration status verification letter” that verifies your F-1/J-1 immigration status. You can request this by completing the Standard Letter Request Form and following the procedures listed on the form.
- What should I do if my I-20/DS-2019 will expire and I am not finished with my academic requirements?
- If you need longer than the end date listed on your current I-20 or DS-2019 to complete your academic program, you must request an “Extension” of your I-20/DS-2019 to continue your studies. To request an extension, you first need to complete the I-20 Request Form for Extension to Complete Program Requirements (for F-1 students) or the DS-2019 Request Form for Extension to Complete Program Requirements (for J-1 students), and compile all of the other paperwork listed under the “Checklist of required documents” on the form. Please note that one of these supporting documents, the Academic/Faculty Advisor Recommendation Form, must be completed and signed in part by your academic/faculty advisor. Also, updated proof of financial support is required. Once you have prepared all of the extension request materials, submit them in person to an international student advisor during our walk-in advising hours, Monday through Friday, 1pm to 4pm. We recommend strongly that you submit the extension request at least 1-2 months prior to the expiration of your current I-20 or DS-2019 form. For more information about maintaining legal status, see “Maintaining Legal F-1 Status” regarding I-20 or “Maintaining Legal J-1 Status” regarding DS-2019.
- I'm planning on traveling outside the United States. What do I need to do to re-enter the United States?
- If you are planning to travel outside the U.S., you should check that your I-20/DS-2019 will not be expiring soon, and that the I-20/DS-2019 has a travel signature dated less than a year from your planned date of re-entry to the U.S. If you need to obtain a new travel signature, you should submit the I-20 Travel Signature form or DS-2019 Travel Signature request form with your original I-20/DS-2019. You must also bring your passport with you to the International Center when you submit your request. You should also make sure your passport is valid more than six months into the future on your re-entry date, and that your F-1/J-1 visa will still be valid for your re-entry. Refer to our Travel Advisory for additional information.
- What happens if I try to enter the U.S. without an I-20/DS-2019 or without a travel signature? What is an I-515A?
- Students/scholars who travel outside the U.S. and do not have all the required documentation may be denied entry to the U.S. However, Customs and Border Protection has the authority to admit F-1/ J-1 students/scholars (and accompanying dependents, if applicable) to the U.S. for 30 days by issuing a Form I-515A if they are otherwise eligible for readmission but have some documentary deficiency. A student/scholar issued the Form I-515A will be given a date specific I-94 (with a 30 day validity period). It is essential that the I-515A be resolved.
If you are issued an I-515A, read the marked section identified by the CBP officer upon admittance to the U.S. to determine what documents you need to submit to Washington DC. You may need to contact the IC for a travel signature, a replacement I-20/DS-2019, or advice. Be sure to submit original documents listed under the section identified by the CBP officer. Documents should be mailed to the address indicated on the Form I-515A. It is recommended that you use a receipt-based mailing option such as certified mail, so that you will have evidence that the documents were received by the government before the 30-day expiration period.
Please note that it is not guaranteed that you will be issued a Form I-515A, so please be sure to review your travel documents to ensure that you have all required documents and that all endorsements and documents are valid and accurate to avoid the possibility of entry denial. Please also note that some airlines may refuse to issue you a boarding pass for your flight to the U.S., if you are not in possession of your I-20/DS-2019 (if this is your case, please check with your airline directly before your return flight to the U.S.).
- How can I renew my F or J visa?
- The U.S. visa (stamp or sticker in your passport) is a travel document which allows entry to the United States with a valid I-20 or DS-2019. You only need to have a valid F or J visa when you are re-entering the U.S.; you may remain in the U.S. with a valid I-20 or DS-2019. If you plan to travel and re-enter the U.S. from abroad after your visa has expired, you need to apply for a new visa before you re-enter. You can only apply for the visa outside the country at a U.S. Consulate. Please read the detailed information on our web site about Travel Outside the U.S. for further details.
- I will go to a different academic institution in the United States. What is the procedure to move/transfer to a new school?
- To request a transfer, you should submit our F-1 Transfer-Out Form & Checklist or J-1 Transfer-Out Form & Checklist and follow the instructions on the form. On your transfer release date, your SEVIS database record will be moved from University of Michigan sponsorship to your new institution. After that, your new school will be able to prepare an updated, “transfer” I-20 or DS-2019 reflecting your new sponsorship. Once your SEVIS record has been transferred, you will no longer be affiliated with our institution from immigration perspective, so you should no longer work or study here.
- I've changed my immigration status and am no longer F-1 or J-1. How should I report this?
- If your immigration status is no longer sponsored by the University of Michigan (such as F or J) it is your responsibility to notify the University of any change of status. To officially record your new status, the Office of the Registrar will need a copy of the approval form(s) you received from USCIS. You can get this information to the Registrar's Office in one of the following ways:
- Visit the office, either 1207 LSA Building, 500 S. State St. (Central Campus) or B430 Pierpont Commons (North Campus) with your M-Card and your documents.
- Write a letter that includes your name, your current status, your UMID number and your signature asking for an update on your Visa status and include with the letter a copy of the documentation you received from USCIS. Mail or fax to University of Michigan, Office of the Registrar, Student Services, 1207 LSA Building, 500 S. State St, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1382 USA Fax: 734.763.9053.
- How can I find assistance regarding taxes?
- International Center staff members are not authorized to give advice regarding taxes. We do have some helpful information about taxes, tax preparation, ITIN, or tax treaty questions on our web site. The Internal Revenue Service is the U.S. department in charge of taxes; paper forms and information can be found on their site. GLACIER Tax Prep tax preparation software is available free of charge to any international student or scholar with a U-M uniqname and password. Assistance is available via GLACIER Tax Prep online help (click on Online Help at the bottom of any screen) or by emailing the GLACIER Tax Prep Support Center at email@example.com. Some tax information, assistance in filling out tax forms, and W-2s for UM employees and students may be obtained from the U-M Payroll Office; their web site includes information on reporting scholarship/fellowship and tax treaties/taxation.
- I have more questions. How can I meet with an advisor?
- The U-M International Center offers immigration advising services to F-1 and J-1 students and dependents. Our immigration advisors can respond to all issues relating to F and J immigration regulations and relevant immigration documents and respond to issues related to adjusting to the U-M environment and U.S. culture. You may email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Where can I find information about the “green card lottery”?
- The U.S. Department of State Diversity Immigrant Program (green card lottery) enables randomly chosen people to obtain permanent residence in the United States. For Diversity Visa information updates, please check the U.S. Department of State's Diversity Visa Program page.
- How do I find housing?
- The University Housing Office is an excellent resource for information about off-campus (privately owned) and on-campus (University owned) housing. Refer to Life in Ann Arbor, Housing for more information about these and other housing options.
- Do I need a Social Security number before I begin working?
- You can begin work (and be paid) while you are waiting for your Social Security number to be issued. However, you must have applied for a Social Security number if you are employed in the U.S. or if you have received and plan to accept an offer of employment in the U.S. For more information refer to "When a Social Security Number is Required".
- I am graduating this term and have accepted a job which will begin after I graduate. My employer would like to file an H-1B petition for me and has asked for a letter confirming that I have met all degree requirements. Can U-M write a letter for me?
- Many students are facing extraordinary challenges as they graduate and move into the job market. These challenges are exponentially increased for foreign nationals who wish to remain in the U.S. and work. The current immigration system allows for only 65,000 H-1B (the most commonly used temporary non-immigrant) visa to be issued each year. An additional 20,000 of these visas are available for students who graduate from US universities with advanced degrees. Despite the economic slowdown, it is possible that enough H-1B applications will be filed to fill both quotas soon after the Fiscal Year 2014 (for positions beginning October 1, 2013) H-1B filing season begins on April 1, 2013.
Current regulations require that an applicant for an H-1B visa meet all requirements for that visa at the time of filing. This means that if a degree is required for the position for which an application is made, then that applicant must have met all the requirements for that degree prior to the filing of the application.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) does allow the University to provide a letter, in lieu of the actual degree, IF ALL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE HAVE BEEN COMPLETED. All requirements include coursework, tests, papers, research etc. For example, if there is still a week left of class or the final exam has not yet been taken and graded, then the student has not met the requirements for the degree. A letter stating that they have should not be written.
It is important to keep in mind that the USCIS is aware of the typical completion schedule for universities and they would be suspicious of a letter that states that the degree requirements were met in advance of the end of the semester.
Students planning to complete their academic programs at the end of Winter Term 2013 should also review the International Center’s information about Optional Practical Training work authorization, particularly the sections about “cap gap” relief, and discuss with prospective employers the option of beginning employment using Optional Practical Training work authorization then having the H-1B application filed next year (April 1, 2014).
NOTE: This information about H-1B quotas does not apply to students who obtain H-1B employment with an institution of higher learning, because such employers are exempt from the H-1B cap and can file H-1B petitions throughout the year with any start date.
- GLACIER Tax Prep printed Form W-7 (Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) for me and the GLACIER Tax Prep instruction sheet says that I should attach a letter from the University of Michigan stating that I have not been offered and have not secured employment. Where can I get this letter?
- The University Payroll Office has advised that a different procedure should be followed. Instead of a “no employment” letter, you should request a “rejection letter” (letter of ineligibility) from the Social Security Administration. Please follow these these instructions, which explain how to get a “rejection letter” from the Social Security Administration and how to have the document copies required for your Form W-7 reviewed and certified by an International Center advisor.
- I am using GLACIER Tax Prep but have questions.
- You can email GLACIER Tax Prep at email@example.com. They are usually able to respond within 24 hours.
- Where should I mail my tax form(s)?
- After you finish your tax forms using GLACIER Tax Prep, GLACIER Tax Prep will prepare the forms and an instruction sheet as PDF files for you to print. Please print and read the instruction sheet first. The instructions explain exactly how to assemble and prepare your forms for mailing and where to mail your forms.
- I graduated last year and am on F-1 Optional Practical Training or J-1 Academic Training. Can I still have access to GLACIER Tax Prep?
- Yes, as a U-M F-1 OPT student or J-1 student on Academic Training you are still eligible to use GLACIER Tax Prep.
- My documents got lost/stolen. What should I do?
If you lost your documents on campus, we recommend contacting any "lost and found" desk or office in the building or department where you think you lost your passport.
Passports often contain text directing persons finding the passport to give it to local police authorities. Therefore, you should contact campus police (Department of Public Safety) and the Ann Arbor Police Department. Both agencies have "lost and found" departments. Here are their phone numbers:
U-M DPS: 734.763.3434
Ann Arbor Police: 734.994.2874
Sometimes, passports found on-campus are delivered to the International Center. We always contact the student/scholar as soon as possible whenever this occurs.
We recommend waiting at least one week (if feasible) before contacting your country's closest embassy or consulate about replacing your lost passport, since it often takes awhile for lost documents to be turned in to the appropriate office.
If you know that your documents were stolen, make sure to report it to the police and get a copy of the official police report.
If your documents are never found, there are different procedures that you must follow to replace each one of the documents you lost:
- To replace your passport, you will need to contact your home country’s embassy or consulate in the U.S. and follow their instructions on what you need to do to obtain a new passport. Contact information can be found at Embassies and Consulates Nearest Michigan.
- You cannot replace your visa (a sticker with your photo placed in your passport) while in the U.S. Next time you leave the U.S., you will need to apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. Fortunately, you do not have to have a visa in your passport while you are in the U.S., it is only required for travel. Please see "How can I renew my F or J visa?"
- If you were issued an I-94 when you entered the U.S., you may be able to print a replacement Form I-94 at www.cbp.gov/I94. If you cannot print your replacement I-94, come to the International Center to speak with an International Student Scholar Advisor.
- You can request a replacement of your I-20 or DS-2019 from our office by submitting the following forms:
Request to Replace Lost, Stolen or Damaged I-20
Request to Replace Lost, Stolen or Damaged DS-2019.
- If you are an F-1 student on OPT, and your EAD card was lost/stolen as well, you will have to apply for a replacement card with USCIS. Follow the OPT application instructions Sending Your Complete OPT Application to USCIS provided by the International Center, including the fee payment, with the following exception:
Check box for “Replacement of lost Employment Authorization Document” at the top of Form I-765.
Identity Theft Concerns:
If any of your financial documents (such as credit cards, checks, ATM cards, etc.) were lost/stolen, contact your banking institution to cancel or put a temporary hold on your accounts.
You may want to check your credit report to make sure no one has opened a credit card or other account under your name. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires 3 companies to provide you with one free credit report every 12 months. See the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's web page Fighting Back Against Identity Theft. For a free credit report, go to annualcreditreport.com.
Feel free to email, phone or visit our office if you have further questions.
Last reviewed: 11/13