Immigration & Visas

The International Center at the University of Michigan-Flint supports our students with the immigration process. Information mentioned below provides all the necessary information available for the International students:

Current F-1

Maintaining Status
As an F-1 student, you must meet certain obligations in order to maintain legal immigration status. Maintaining status is necessary in order to receive the 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 serious problems with immigration and could lead to deportation from the U.S. Due to the complexity of U.S. immigration regulations, we recommend that you consult with an International Student Advisor at the UM-Flint International Center for details.

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

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 (refer to “Travel”, later on this page). 

Re-Entering the United States

When you re-enter the United States, you should expect more thorough screening procedures at airports and other ports of entry. Your identity and the validity of your visa and immigration document I-20 or DS-2019 will be checked against U.S. law enforcement databases.

You may also be subject to in-depth questioning about your immigration status, travel history, the purpose of your visit, background, and other issues, and potentially inspection of personal belongings and luggage, photocopying of documents, etc. You can potentially be delayed by a “secondary inspection” if you do not have proper documents, had some previous immigration problem or error, or simply fall under certain criteria or circumstance.

During these entry procedures, it is best to be honest, patient, and courteous with all U.S. government officials, even if they are not so with you. Remain patient and answer all questions clearly. If you do not understand a question, make sure that you ask for clarification before answering. Omission or misrepresentation of information can cause serious problems.


All international students in F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant status must either be enrolled full-time or receive permission from the International Center for a reduced course load or a full-time exception.

The deadline for meeting the full-time registration requirement is the end of the UM-Flint Drop/Add period.

If you are not registered full time by the deadline, your SEVIS record will be terminated and you will lose your 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 the graduate program enrolled)

Exceptions to Full-Time Enrollment Requirements:

In some cases, international students may receive permission from the UM-Flint International Center 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.


The following documents are required to apply for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa:

  • Valid passport
  • Photographs
  • Visa application fee
  • Visa application forms

B-1/B-2 visa applications are sometimes denied. To help strengthen your B-1/B-2 visa application, we recommend that you provide additional documents to clarify that the visit is temporary and/or is for a specific occasion (e.g., graduation ceremony), and that the visitor will be supported financially while visiting the U.S. Most importantly, the additional documents should show proof of ties to the home country to prove that the visitor does not intend to immigrate to the U.S. Proof of ties to the home country may include proof of economic, social, family, or other commitments that will help demonstrate that the family visitor intends to return home after a temporary stay in the U.S. Examples include:

  • Proof of employment: The best document would be a letter from the employer indicating that this individual is currently employed and is taking time off, but is due back at his or her job on a specific date.
  • Proof of property: ownership, such as a house, an apartment, or a business, if such a document exists.
  • Proof of contact: with other family members in the home country.
  • Proof of finances: Proof that your family member can support himself/herself during his/her entire stay in the U.S. without working. Examples include:A bank statement
  • Proof of assets: such as stocks or property
  • Proof of a scholarship or fellowship
  • Proof of Employment: If you are an employee at the University, a document which shows your position and salary
  • Proof of your family assets: member's salary, employment, and/or income
  • A formal letter of invitation: [PDF] (written by you as the F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor) indicating the specific reason for the visit (e.g., graduation, wedding, illness, birth of a child). The letter should include information about the purpose of travel and planned itinerary or schedule. It may also include information about your U.S. immigration status as an F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor.

For more information about B-1/B-2 visas, refer to the U.S. Department of State Visitor Visas.

    Incoming F-1 & J-1

    Mandatory Check In

    Upon arrival to UM-Flint, all F-1 and J-1 visiting scholars much check in at the International Center.

    Required Immigration Documents

    You must bring the original of the following documents:

    • Your passport
    • I-20 or DS-2019 (page 1)
    • I-94 (printed out from
    • If you have J-2 dependents (spouse and children) who traveled with you to the U.S., bring their DS-2019s, I-94s, and passports, along with the photocopies of each as well.

    All J-1 visiting scholars will also receive a brief orientation at the International Center. Topics include:

    • Health insurance
    • Immigration documents and regulations
    • Completing your immigration process

    The mandatory check-in applies to J-1 Professors, Research Scholars, Short-term Scholars, and Specialists.  

    Mandatory Check-in

    • All exchange visitors who are issued Form DS-2019s for the purpose of either "begin a new program" or "transfer" are required to attend a mandatory check-in program at the IC in order to fully comply with DOS and SEVIS requirements
    • It is important that departments communicate with the exchange visitor often and inform the IC immediately if the exchange visitor's arrival will be delayed more than 15 days after the begin date of the Form DS-2019 starting date can be amended
    • IC is required by DOS and SEVIS to validate the exchange visitors 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 the 30 days, it will automatically become "invalid" and the exchange visitor will need to leave the U.S. immediately.

    Documents Required

    • Valid passport with a F-1/F-2 or J-1/J-2 visa (Canadians are exempt from visa requirement)
    • Form I-20 or DS-2019
    • I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt
    • Optional but Recommended Documentation
      • Financial Support Documentation
      • Letter of invitation

    Travel Information

    Before making travel arrangements to come to the University of Michigan-Flint, you will need to obtain an appropriate U.S. visa.  The following list provides resources to help you obtain a U.S. visa and enter the U.S. legally.

    Within U.S.

    When you are in the Flint area, we do not advise carrying your passport, I-20, and I-94 with you. Instead, keep your original documents in a safe and secure location. We strongly recommend that you make photocopies of these important documents and store them in a different place from your original documents. Keep your original immigration documents in a safe and secure location to avoid loss or theft.

    When you are traveling within the U.S., you should bring the following original documents on your trip:

    • Passport
    • I-94
    • I-20 or DS-2019

    A little-known regulation exists which says that international visitors to the U.S. must carry their “registration document” with them. The “registration document” for F-1 students and J-1 students and scholars is Form I-94. With increased security precautions, particularly at airports, you should ensure you are in compliance.


    US-VISIT is a “check-in/check-out system” which collects biographic information and biometric identifiers on all foreign nationals entering the U.S. US-VISIT entry procedures are currently in place at U.S. airports and seaports with international arrivals and in the secondary inspection areas of U.S. land border ports of entry.

    Upon arrival or departure at a port-of-entry where US-VISIT is in place, you are required to comply with the procedures. Procedures involve photographing and digital fingerprinting. Your information will be stored and checked against various national security and law enforcement databases.

    For more information, refer to US-VISIT on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security web site.

    SEVIS Fee

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires a fee of $200 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. The rule that implements this fee, called the SEVIS I-901 Fee, went into effect September 1, 2004.

    The following list contains links to more detailed information about the SEVIS I-901 Fee:

    • Information on SEVIS and required fees and instructions are available on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement web site.
    • Students or exchange visitors who are applying for initial F or J status with a new Form I-20 or DS-2019 issued on or after September 1, 2004 must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. You must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee every time you start a new I-20 or DS-2019 program.
    • You must have a Form I-20 or DS-2019 before you pay the fee. You can schedule a visa application interview before you make the SEVIS I-901 fee payment. The SEVIS I-901 fee payment should be completed at least three days prior to your visa interview.
    • At the web site above, you can pay the SEVIS I-901 fee with credit card. It is helpful to be at a computer with a printer, so you can print the receipt directly after the transaction. You should carry the receipt with you to the visa interview and when entering the U.S.
    • Any continuing student or exchange visitor who received an initial Form I-20 or DS-2019 dated prior to September 1, 2004, has not completed their program and has maintained status does not need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. A change of level or transfer is considered a continuation of your current program.
    • Even if you receive a Form I-20 or DS-2019 from your school or exchange visitor program with updated information printed on or after September 1, 2004, you do not need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. Payment is determined by the original issuance date.
    • Spouses and minor child of students and exchange visitors (F-2or J-2) do not have to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
    Airport Information

    Due to heightened national security measures, information about air travel changes often. For the latest information on air travel regulations and restrictions, refer to the following resources:


    Check with your airline or travel agent to determine how early to arrive at the airport. Recommended check-in times differ by airline/airport and change during peak travel times.


    The International Center provides airport pick-up at the Flint Bishop Airport for our incoming Fall term students.  Taxi services are also available.  You may schedule a taxi in advance by calling Hey Taxi at 810-820-9627.

    Airport Parking at Bishop International (FLNT)

    Parking is available in the designated parking areas. Some parking areas may be restricted in compliance with enhanced security measures. It is critical that your car remains attended if you are dropping off or picking up a passenger. Unattended vehicles are banned at terminals.

    Documents and ID

    You will need government-issued (federal, state, or local) identification and a paper boarding pass to pass through an airport security checkpoint. Examples of government-issued identification include a driver's license or passport.

    Checking In

    Check with your airline to find out what process you will need to follow to check in for your flight. Due to heightened airport security measures and the random and thorough nature of security searches, do not bring wrapped packages on-board the aircraft.

    Holiday Packages

    Pack your unwrapped gifts/packages with your checked luggage or ship your packages in advance of your departure. Check with your airline for restrictions on carry-on and checked luggage.

    What to expect at security checkpoint

    Refer to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Transportation Safety Authority Passenger Security Checkpoints

    Hotel Information

    The closest hotel to UM-Flint is the Holiday Inn Express, it is located about 1 block off campus.  You may be able to request an airport pick-up from the hotel in advanced.

    Holiday Inn Express
    1150 Robert T. Longway Blvd.
    Flint, MI 48503
    Phone: 810-238-7744
    Bringing Money to the United States

    You may choose to bring large sums of money with you in the form of cash, money order, or traveler's checks when entering the U.S. You may bring as much money as you wish into the U.S., however, any amounts of money exceeding the allowed $10,000 (U.S. dollars) maximum must be declared in advance.

    When you arrive in the U.S., you are required to declare all monies that you are bringing into the country. You will receive Form 6059B Customs Declaration, which must be filled in completely and truthfully. If you do not declare your money, the penalties for non-compliance can be severe. Your money might be taken away, you will be required to provide a written explanation of your failure to comply, your case will be evaluated, and you might have to pay a considerable fine.

    For more information, refer to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency web site.

    Visiting J-1

    J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa Status

    The general purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is to promote international educational and cultural exchange to develop mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries. At UM-Flint, there are three types of J-1 exchange visitors: students, visiting scholars, and visiting professors. An exchange visitor must not be a candidate for a tenure-track position.

    • J-1 students must be admitted to a degree program for a full course of study or be engaged full time in a non-degree course of study.
    • J-1 visiting research scholars primarily conduct research, observe, or consult in connection with a research project. The visiting scholar may also teach or lecture.
    • J-1 visiting professors primarily teach, lecture, observe, or consult. The visiting professor may also conduct research.
    • J-1 visiting short term scholars can be professors, research scholars, specialists, or persons 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.
    • J-1 specialists are individuals who are expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill who come to the U.S. for observing, consulting or demonstrating those special skills.
    Department of State Exchange Visitor Program

    The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation, in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of United States Department of State. Our J-1 Program is overseen by the Academic and Government Division.

    Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation
    ECA/EC/AG - SA-44, Room 732
    301 4th Street, S.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20547

    Maintaining Status

    As a J-1 exchange visitor, you must meet certain obligations to maintain legal immigration status. Maintaining status is necessary to receive the benefits of J-1 status in the future, such as applying for a change of status, if needed. Failure to maintain your non-immigrant status can result in serious problems with immigration and could lead to deportation from the U.S.

    J-1 Students

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

    • Attend the mandatory immigration check-in program at the UM-Flint International Center.
    • 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.
    • In the event of change of academic program or level, update your DS-2019 in a timely fashion in accordance with immigration regulations.
    • Maintain full-time enrollment during the academic year.
    • Undergraduate students must enroll for 12 credit hours per term while graduate students must enroll for 8 credit hours (or number of credit hours defined by the specific graduate program) per term. 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 your current and permanent address information in SIS within 10 days of moving.
    J-1 Visiting Scholars and Professors

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

    • Attend the mandatory immigration check-in program at the UM-Flint International Center.
    • 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 your current and permanent address information in SIS within 10 days of moving.


    Dependents are defined as a spouse and minor children (under age 21) of the J-1 exchange visitor. Dependent spouses and children enter the U.S. on J-2 dependent visas. Each dependent is required to have an individual DS-2019 to obtain a J-2 visa stamp from a U.S. embassy or consulate and to enter the U.S. (Canadians are exempt from the visa requirement). For more information, refer to Dependents.

    Having J-2 status does not enable a J-2 dependent to work, but it gives the person the ability to apply for permission to work from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office through an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) (Form I-766). The J-2 dependent does not have legal permission to work until the EAD is approved by USCIS. For more information, refer to J-2 Dependent Employment Authorization Document.


    • Optional Practical Training
    • Health Insurance for International Students
    • Scholarship
    • Income Tax Information (F-1 Students)
    • Job Search Strategies
    • Reduced Course Load
    • Study Skills/Academic Success
    • Education Abroad Information Session
    • Cultural Adjustment
    • Travel Signature Day
    Optional Practical Training (OPT)

    Optional Practical Training is defined as authorization for “temporary employment authorization directly related to the field of study.”  OPT employment authorization is granted for 12 months typically after completion of degree requirements.   A student can apply for OPT up to 90 days prior to the program end date and up to 60 days after the program end date.  Though it is possible to file the I-765 form (OPT) after graduation we do not recommend doing so as the USCIS processing times vary and you may lose some of your 12-month employment authorization.

    Health Insurance for International Students

    If you are an F-1 student or J-1 visiting scholar and your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 was issued by the University of Michigan-Flint, you must have health insurance that meets University of Michigan requirements for yourself and any accompanying F-2 or J-2 dependents during the entire time you are a F-1 or J-1 student or scholar at the University of Michigan-Flint. Please attend the Health Insurance workshop for more information.

    For more information, please visit our website here.


    This workshop will focus on the scholarship essay for the UM-Flint scholarship application.  Your scholarship essay is a very important part of your application since the selection committee is able to see you as a person more than your GPA or major. A well-written essay allows you to single yourself out from the other scholarship applicants.

    Income Tax Information (F1 Students)

    This workshop is designed for F-1 students who are non-residents for tax purposes.  This workshop will NOT offer assistance with individual tax return forms, but will provide background information that will be helpful as you prepare your tax forms either by hand or using a tax software. 

    Job Search Strategies

    This workshop is co-sponsored by the Academic Advising and Career Center.  Learn about job search strategies, how to build your resume and cover letter, interview preparation and how to sell yourself as an international student on the job market.  Other topics will include cross-cultural issues, networking and ways to identify appropriate opportunities.

    Reduced Course Load

    This workshop provides information about reducing a course load below full-time enrollment while maintaining F-1 or J-1 legal status.  In order to maintain legal status F-1 and J-1 students and scholars must have permission from the International Center before dropping below full-time enrollment.  All F-1 or J-1 students who plan to request this permission must attend a Reduced Course Load workshop.

    Study Skills/Academic Success

    This study skills workshop offer suggestions for a better understanding of general college study strategies such as: study groups, study habits, time scheduling, study tips, and campus resources.

    Education Abroad Information Session

    If you are unsure about which study abroad program is right for you or if you are interested in study abroad, but you just don't know where to start, please plan to attend a general information meeting. Topics covered will include types of study abroad, how to find the right program, meeting your academic needs, funding options, and more. No appointment is necessary, just show up. Bring a friend if you'd like.

    Cultural Adjustment

    This workshop will cover an introduction to American life, the American perspective on time, status and hierarchy, regional differences, stages of cultural adjustment, and tips to ease cultural adjustment. 

    Travel Signature Day

    Going to travel over the break?  Make sure your I-20 is still valid and get it signed this day. No appointment necessary, just walk in.