immigration & visas

The Center for Global Engagement (CGE) at the University of Michigan-Flint supports our students with the immigration process. Most students and scholars on campus come with either an F visa (full time student) or a J visa (exchange visitor). Information mentioned below provides all the necessary information available for the international students.

CGE supports international students in many ways, including ensuring that you meet the immigration requirements to remain lawful while studying in the U.S. CGE offers workshops, guidance and training for international students while on campus.

F-1 Visa

Entering The U.S. you will need:

  • UM-Flint I-20 (or Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant F-1 Student Status)
  • A valid F-1 visa (the visa stamp in your passport) issued by the U.S. embassy/consulate overseas
  • A valid passport
  • Your SEVIS fee receipt

NOTE: Canadian citizens do not need U.S. visas. Please be advised that you may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the start date in section 5 on your I-20.

Re-entering the U.S.
Expect more thorough screening procedures at airports and other ports of entry upon reentry to the U.S. Identity and the validity of visa and immigration documents I-20 or DS-2019 will be checked against U.S. law enforcement databases. During entry procedures, answer all questions clearly. If you do not understand a question, make sure to ask for clarification before answering. Omission or misrepresentation of information can cause serious problems.

Within the U.S.
While studying on campus, we advise carrying a copy of your passport, I-20, and I-94 with you. Keep your original documents in a safe and secure location. If you are traveling within the U.S., you should bring the following original documents on your trip:

Maintaining Status F-1
F-1 students must meet certain obligations in order to maintain legal immigration status, to receive benefits of F-1 status such as employment and program extension, and can be crucial to a successful application for a change or adjustment of visa status in the future. Failure to maintain your non-immigrant status can result in problems and could lead to deportation from the U.S. Due to the complexity of U.S. immigration regulations, the International Student Advisor at the CGE can be consulted for advice.

All international students in F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant status must either be enrolled full-time or receive permission from the CGE. The deadline for registration is the end of the UM-Flint Drop/Add period.

Students not registered full time by the deadline will have their SEVIS record terminated and will lose their F-1/J-1 status. There is no grace period to remain in the U.S. following status termination. In general, the minimum full-time enrollment for international students is as follows:

  • Undergraduate Students 12 credit hours
  • Graduate Students 6-8 credit hours (depending on program enrolled)
  • Exceptions to Full-Time Enrollment Requirements
  • In some cases, international students may receive permission from the UM-Flint Center for Global Engagement to drop below full-time enrollment.
  • Reduced course load
  • Full time equivalency
  • Concurrent enrollment 

Family members who are not the children or spouse of the F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor must apply for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa to gain entry into the U.S. Family members from certain countries may be eligible to travel to the U.S. to visit for stays of up to 90 days without obtaining a B-1/B-2 visa through the U.S. Department of State Visa Waiver Program. Information on B-1/B-2 visitor visas may be found at the Travel.State.Gov website here and how to apply here.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires a fee for all new F-1 and J-1 program applicants to cover the costs of the operation of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) program. See fee information at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website here.

J-1 Visa

Entering the U.S. bring the following documentation to the U.S.: 

  • Valid passport with a J-visa (Canadians are exempt from visa requirement)
  • Form DS-2019
  • I-901 SEVIS fee receipt
  • Financial support documentation (recommended)
  • Letter of Invitation (recommended)

Maintaining Status J-1

To maintain legal J-1 status, a J-1 student must:

  • Attend the mandatory immigration check-in  and orientation program. IC is required by DOS and SEVIS to validate the exchange visitor’s arrival within 30 days of the program start date on the Form DS-2019.  If the exchange visitor’s SEVIS record is not validated within these 30 days, it will automatically become “invalid” and the exchange visitor will need to leave the U.S. immediately.
  • Attend the university you are authorized to attend.
  • Complete immigration school transfer procedure when necessary.
  • Be in good academic standing and make progress towards an academic program.
  • Extend your DS-2019 prior to its expiration date if you are unable to complete your academic program by original expiration date.
  • Update your DS-2019 in accordance with immigration regulations in the event of change of academic program or level.
  • Maintain full-time enrollment during the academic year: a minimum of 12 credit hours per term for undergraduate students and 8 credit hours (or number of credit hours defined by the specific graduate program) per term for graduate students. During any given term in which you have been officially appointed by the department as a Graduate Student Research Assistant (GSRA) or Graduate Student Instructor (GSI), you may enroll for 6 credit hours.
  • Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours per week during academic year.
  • Not accept unauthorized employment and not work off campus without authorization.
  • Keep your passport valid at all times. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future on the day you return to the U.S. from a trip abroad.
  • Maintain required health insurance coverage.
  • Complete the UM-Flint International Center departure form if you leave the program 30 days or more before the end date of DS-2019.
  • Update current and permanent address information in SIS within 10 days of moving.

To maintain legal J-1 status, a J-1 visiting scholar or professor must:

  • Report to UM-Flint’s International Center for a mandatory immigration check-in. IC is required by DOS and SEVIS to validate the exchange visitor’s arrival within 30 days of the program start date on the Form DS-2019. If the exchange visitor’s SEVIS record is not validated within these 30 days, it will automatically become “invalid” and the exchange visitor will need to leave the U.S. immediately.
  • Have a valid DS-2019. Extensions can be completed with your J-1 sponsor.
  • Have a valid passport. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future on the day you return from your trip abroad.
  • Conduct employment only as indicated on the DS-2019.

NOTE: Departments must contact the UM-Flint International Center if they would like the exchange visitor to engage in collaborative work outside of UM-Flint or if the exchange visitor wishes to participate in occasional lectures at another institution.

  • File timely and appropriate transfer and extension notification to the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) through the sponsoring agency.
  • Maintain required health insurance coverage.
  • Update current and permanent address information in SIS within 10 days of moving.

Visitor Categories
Research Scholars
An individual primarily conducts research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project. The research scholar may also teach or lecture.

Short-Term Scholars
A professor, research scholar, specialist, or a person with similar education or accomplishments coming to the U.S. on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills at research institutions, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited educational institutions, or similar types of institution. Examples include educators, scientists, research fellows, writers, and museum administrators. The short-term scholar may also engage in collaborative research.

An individual primarily teaches lecturing, observing, or consulting. A professor may also conduct research.

College or University Student
Individuals in the United States for the primary purpose of studying at an institution of higher education under the sponsorship of an exchange visitor program designated by the Department of States.

Student Intern
Programs designated in the College and University Students category can also sponsor in the Student intern category. Available only to foreign students currently enrolled and pursuing a degree at a post-secondary academic institution outside the United States, whose U.S. internship will “fulfill the educational objectives for his or her current degree program at his or her home institution.”

Exchange Visitor Category Time Limits

CategoryMinimum Duration of Stay RequiredMaximum Duration of Stay
Professor or Research Scholar3 weeks5 years
Short-term ScholarN/A6 months
Collage & University Student3 weeks

Dependents J-2
Dependent spouses and children of J-1 visiting scholars or professors enter on J-2 visas and have their own DS-2019s. Having J-2 status does not inherently give the J-2 the permission to work, but it gives the person the right to apply for work authorization from Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


If you are not looking for a sponsorship from UM-Flint you will need:

  • An invitation for the orientation 
  • Inform us 
  • Provide visa and passport
  • I-94
  • Pay attention to who is sponsoring you