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Orientation update #1: Immigration and travel information

Posted By: OISS    Published: Monday, 11 Jun 2012

Information for New International Students:

Dear Future MSU Spartan,

Please read the following pre-arrival information to make sure you have all necessary immigration documents when you arrive to the United States. Detailed information regarding travel documents is available at Please remember that you are not permitted to enter the U.S. any earlier than 30 days before the start of your course of study as listed on your Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019).

Documents required for entry into the U.S.

Valid Passport: Issued by your country of citizenship, your passport should be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the date of entry into U.S.

Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019): Your I-20 or DS-2019 is your Certificate of Eligibility. You must have this document with you when you arrive in the U.S. Keep this and other immigration documents in your carry-on luggage because these documents are required at a U.S. Port of Entry.

Paying the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee: You must pay a government-mandated fee and obtain a receipt before you can apply for your U.S. visa. You will need your Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019) to pay for the SEVIS fee. For more information on how to pay the fee, visit:

Valid United States F-1 or J-1 visa stamp (not necessary for Canadian citizens): Once your SEVIS fee is paid and you have printed out your receipt, make an appointment at the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy to apply for your visa (F-1 student visa, if you have an I-20 or a J-1 exchange visitor visa, if you have a DS-2019). In addition to your passport and Certificate of Eligibility, the visa officer will ask for documents verifying your financial resources, your letter of acceptance from the Office of Admissions at MSU, passport-type photographs and proof of SEVIS fee payment. It is best to check the website of the U.S. consulate nearest to you to verify what is required for a visa stamp:

I-94 card: You will receive an I-94 card at the time of your entry into the United States. Please make sure you complete the form I-94 correctly at the port of entry. Make sure that the Port of Entry officer stamps an entry date with a "D/S" written on your I-94. You will need to show the I-94 card at the government check in once you arrive at MSU. You should staple this card in your passport during your stay here. This is a very important document as it indicates the visa classification you are given upon entry to the United States and the length of time you may stay. It is your proof of legal entry into the United States. Do not lose this little white card!

It is a good idea to keep a copy of your passport, visa stamp, I-94 card and Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019) in case they are ever lost. Neither Michigan State University nor the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) keep copies of these documents.

More pre-arrival tips can be found at

Please make sure that you have your immigration documents and hall assignment information in your carry-on, and your hall assignment on your luggage tags. A template for your luggage tags can be found at

Follow OISS on Twitter <> and Facebook <> for immediate updates on immigration news and programming events.

See you at International Student Orientation on August 20th at 9 am! Visit the orientation webpage for more information at:

Please complete our Flight Arrival Survey at

Safe travels!

Tags: orientation  update  newstudents