What Should International Students Know?

The information on this page is applicable for international students who have accepted their offer of admission and for whom an immigration document will be prepared.

Visa Types and Immigration Statuses

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa. You must have a student visa to enter in the United States. F-1 is the most common visa type used by students in the U.S. and best fits a student’s situation. Most international students at U-M have F-1 status. 

J-1 visa status is generally used for students in specific educational exchange programs. Please find more information about F-1 and J-1 from the International Center.

Learn More About Form I-20 and Form DS-2019

Form I-20 and Form DS-2019 are the certificates of eligibility for nonimmigrant student or exchange student status. They are mandatory documents required by the US government for you to apply for a visa. The I-20 form allows you to apply for an F-1 student visa. The DS-2019 form allows you to apply for a J-1 student visa. After you submit the document we require, U-M and the College of Engineering will help you prepare for your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019.

Check Your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 After You Receive It

Please check that all information on the I-20 or DS-2019 is correct and matches the information on your passport. Contact CoE Graduate Admissions at [email protected] if any of the information is not correct. Sign your name immediately under the “Student Attestation” section if all information is correct.

Learn More about SEVP and SEVIS

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is a part of the National Security Investigations Division and acts as a bridge for government organizations that have an interest in information on nonimmigrants whose primary reason for coming to the United States is to be students. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is what SEVP uses to track and monitor schools and exchange visitor programs.

After you submit your I-20 required materials to us, we would issue a Form I-20 or DS-2019 for you with a SEVIS number. You are required to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee after you receive the I-20 or DS-2019. After paying, print a copy of your I-901 SEVIS fee receipt and keep it with your I-20.

If you transfer from another US school to U-M, you should also transfer your SEVIS record to U-M.

DS-160 Visa Application

Form DS-160 is submitted electronically to the Department of State website via the Internet. Consular Officers use the information entered on the DS-160 to process the visa application and, combined with a personal interview, determine an applicant’s eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa.

Listing of U.S. consulates: https://www.usembassy.gov/

The Time to Make Your Travel Arrangements

1. Your Program Start Date on Your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019:
  • Make your travel arrangements after you have been informed of the program start date on the first page of your I-20 or DS-2019. The date will appear in your M-Passport portal after your I-20 or DS-2019 is issued. That date will not be changed to accommodate personal reasons or plane reservations.
  • The program start date on your immigration document is determined by federal immigration regulations and allows you to participate in university activities and the mandatory International Center SEVIS check-in before classes begin.
  • You are allowed to enter the United States no earlier than 30 days prior to the program start date on the immigration document.
  • You may be prohibited from entering the United States at an immigration checkpoint if you arrive earlier than 30 days and later than the program start date indicated on your immigration document.
2. Mandatory Immigration Check-In at U-M International Center 
  • New F-1 and J-1 international students are required by U.S. Government regulation to complete an online Mandatory Immigration Check-In session. Failure to attend can result in a loss of legal immigration status. 
  • Students will be notified, via your umich.edu email address, approximately 30 days prior to the program start date on your I-20 or DS-2019, with the instructions and details of the check-in process which is conducted by the U-M International Center. 
  • If you are a new student and do not receive an email regarding the mandatory check-in, contact the International Center at [email protected]
  • Further information is available at https://internationalcenter.umich.edu/students/incoming-students.
  • Returning and Change of Level students should refer to the Mandatory Immigration Check-In page.

Change in Plans

If your arrival is going to be delayed until after classes have started or if you decide not to attend the University of Michigan, please notify your admissions office and academic department.  You can email [email protected] and also include the graduate coordinator from your program.

Immunizations for International Students

The University of Michigan does not require immunizations. However, it is recommended that students come to school fully immunized to protect their health. Immunizations are one of the most effective public health measures in preventing communicable diseases. Immunization recommendations can be found on the University Health Services website.