New International Faculty and Scholar Checklist and Resource Guide
Below are onboarding checklists of things to complete or consider for new international faculty and scholars in H-1B or J-1 statuses. If you are in another visa status, such as TN or O-1, please contact OISS for special requirements of those visa statuses. These checklists are followed by a list of helpful resources for new international faculty and scholars.
This information can be found on the OISS website at oiss.isp.msu.edu/scholars/checklists
Onboarding Checklist for All New International Faculty and Scholars
Check in with Your Department
Meet with your department supervisor to get your employment settled. Someone from your department will introduce you to others in the department and help you acclimate to your new work environment.
Apply for a Social Security Card
All MSU employees must have a Social Security Card. You will apply for a Social Security number, if you don't already have one, at the Social Security Office. Please take your I-94 card, passport, H-1B Approval Notice, and another form of Identification Card (e.g. License, MSU ID). You may visit the Social Security Office's website for hours of operation at www.ssa.gov. The Social Security Office is located at: 5210 Perry Robinson Circle, Lansing, MI 48911.
Applying for a Michigan Driver's License
If your program at MSU is for one semester (4 months) or more, you are considered a Michigan resident and you must apply for a Michigan driver's license if you intend to drive. If your stay is shorter than one semester, you may be able to use your home country driver's license, IF your country of citizenship appears on the list on the OISS website: oiss.isp.msu.edu/scholars/license.htm. Translations are needed if your driver's license is another language. Translation templates are available on OISS website. In order to apply for MI driver's license you must go the Secretary of State branch and present your DS-2019, valid passport, proof of SSN and two documents proving your Michigan residency. For more information see the OISS website.
Applying for a Michigan ID Card
An ID card issued by the State of Michigan can be used for identification purposes for those who do not obtain a Michigan driver's licenses and prefer not to carry their passport with them at all times. You must provide the same documents that are required for the MI driver's license but are not required to take any tests.
Filing U.S. Tax Forms
If you are being paid in the United States, you must file tax forms on your income for each calendar year during which you earn income. Taxes are due every April 15th. Tax information sessions will be provided in February and March by MSU Tax Clinic. If you leave before that, please contact the Clinic at least two weeks in advance of your departure. Their phone number is: 517-336-8088. Brochures for Tax Clinic are available in OISS. MSU Tax Clinic website: www.law.msu.edu/clinics/tax/
Obtaining an MSU Parking Permit
To obtain an on campus parking permit, faculty and staff need to obtain a parking permit from the MSU Parking Office, which is a part of the University Police. More information about this process can be found here: police.msu.edu/management-services-bureau/parking-office/
Onboarding Checklist for H-1B Faculty or Scholars
Apply for a Michigan State University Identification Card
With an MSU ID you can access your worksite, access parking, use Sparty Cash, borrow from the University libraries and use other facilities on the campus. To apply, you will need your passport or some other form of official photo identification (e.g. driver's license) and your H-1B Approval Notice. There is no fee for your first card. You may get your ID at the MSU ID Office located in the International Center Room 170. Here is a link to the MSU ID Office webpage idoffice.msu.edu/
Complete an I-9 Form
The I-9 employment form needs to be completed with OISS on or before your first day of work. Original documents must be presented to complete the Form I-9.
Set up your MSU Net ID and Email
You must set up an MSU Net ID and Email so that you may access computers on campus as well as the internet. You must register for the Net ID, here is a link to their website: netid.msu.edu/activate.php
Onboarding Checklist for J-1 Faculty or Scholars
Obtain Your MSU ID Card and Set Up Your MSU Email Account
An MSU ID Card and MSU email account can both be acquired in the MSU ID Office, room 170 International Center. However, the department that you are sponsored by or working in will decide how to process your position at MSU and that decision will determine if you will receive an MSU email account and/or ID Card. If your department will add you to the HR system as paid or un-paid faculty, you are considered "appointed" and you will receive both an ID Card and an MSU Email automatically. If, on the other hand, your department is sponsoring you as a Visitor to MSU, then you are considered "non-appointed" and the department will decide if you need an ID Card and/or email account. In order to obtain your ID Card and MSU email account, please follow these instructions:
- Acquire a copy of your appointment papers from your department
- Come to the ID Office with:
- Appointment papers
- ZPID Information Sheet from OISS
- Acquire a completed "Departmental Authorization Form." Blank forms can be acquired from the ID Office if needed.
- Come to the ID Office with:
- Departmental Authorization Form
- ZPID Information Sheet from OISS
If your department has any questions about this process or needs additional information, please have them contact the ID Office at 517-355-4500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Complete an OISS Check in
Check in at OISS, located in Room 105 at the International Center. It is very important that all newly-arrived scholars check in with the OISS as soon as possible after arrival.
Schedule an OISS J-1 Scholar Orientation
OISS J-1 Scholar Orientation takes place every Thursday at 10am in Room 105, International Center. When you check in, the reception staff will schedule you for the J-1 Scholar Orientation.
Social Security Number
If you will be employed by Michigan State or paid by any U.S. based organization, you must obtain a Social Security Number (SSN). You will need an endorsement letter from our office to apply. You will also need to bring your valid passport and the original copy of your DS-2019 to the local Social Security Administration office located at 5210 Perry Robinson Circle in Lansing.
Keep Your Address Current
As a J-1 scholar sponsored by MSU, you must inform OISS of your local address upon arrival and any time your change your local address in the future. For J-1 scholars not sponsored by MSU, please contact both your program sponsor and OISS regarding any address change. If you are not sure who your program sponsor is, look at box #2 on your DS-2019.
Report any Changes in Your Program
You must also report any personal or program changes event that may affect your immigration status such as change of legal name, divorce, change in funding amount or source, change in the Site of Activity listed on your DS-2019, or change of Department Contact. This rule also extends to J-2 dependents. Please use DS-2019 update notification form, which is available on our website.
Bringing Your Dependents
J-2 dependents arriving later will need their own DS-2019 form in order to obtain a J-2 dependent visa stamp. J-1 scholars must submit an Add Dependent request form (available at oiss.isp.msu.edu) in order to receive DS-2019(s) for dependents. J-2 dependents may request an employment authorization document (EAD) to work. Also, J-2 dependents may attend school while they are in the United States. You and your dependents must have valid passports at all times. If your passport expires, your J-1 status is no longer valid. If your J-1 status is invalidated, your J-2 dependents also lose their J-2 status.
Complete the Health Insurance Requirement
J visa holders are required to have major medical insurance for the duration of the program. All J-1 scholars and dependents must maintain proof of major medical insurance that meets the U.S. Department of State requirements. See the OISS Website for more information: oiss.isp.msu.edu/scholars/health/
MSU Employees must choose medical insurance within the first 60 days of employment. You can visit Staff Benefits Office at 140 Nisbet Building or call the Personnel Office (517-353-4434) to arrange an appointment for orientation to university benefits. Part-time employees or those on a contract for less than 9 months must purchase major medical insurance on their own. More information is available at the OISS J-1 orientation or from an OISS advisor.
Participating in Incidental Employment
Professors and research scholars may participate in occasional lectures and short-term consultations if authorized by OISS in advance. Such lectures and consultations must be incidental to your primary program activities. If you are being paid for such activities, you must act as an independent contractor and the following criteria and procedures must be satisfied:
The occasional lectures or short-term consultations must:
- be directly related to the objectives of the exchange visitor's program
- be incidental to the exchange visitor's primary program activities
- not delay the completion date of the visitor's program
- be authorized in advance in writing by OISS and
- be documented in SEVIS
Traveling Outside the U.S. and Returning During Your J-1 Program
In order to leave the U.S. and re-enter in J-1 scholar status, you will need a valid passport, valid J-1 visa stamp and a current travel endorsement signature on your DS-2019. You must come to OISS to have your DS-2019 signed if you will travel outside the United States. Signatures are valid for 6 months. Scholars sponsored by other organizations must contact the sponsoring organization regarding travel signatures. For short trips (30 days or less) to Canada, Mexico, or certain Caribbean islands, you may re-enter the U.S. with an expired visa stamp, however a valid passport and current travel signature are still required. Please visit an OISS Advisor to discuss your eligibility for this benefit.
Request for extension must be made by your host department using the J-1 Request form which can be downloaded at oiss.isp.msu.edu. Your program must be extended before the end date on your current DS-2019 is reached. If your DS-2019 expires, then no extension is possible and you must leave the United States within 30 days of the end date. Your host department must send OISS any extension paperwork at least one month prior to the program end date. OISS will then verify that you are eligible for an extension and issue a new DS-2019.
J-1 scholars who plan to transfer to another institution must inform OISS of their intent to do so prior to leaving MSU so that this can be properly noted in the SEVIS system. You must submit the Transfer Out form and proof of your invitation to the new institution at least 30 days prior to your transfer date or end date, whichever is sooner. Under the SEVIS system, the current J program and the transferring J program will work together to complete the transfer process. Your MSU department supervisor will be contacted to confirm the department's approval of your transfer.
When you are ready to leave MSU and your program is close to be finished, you must complete a Departure Form for OISS. If you have J-2 dependents, and if you and your dependents will be departing separately, you must also submit a J-2 Notice of Departure form. Failure to submit the form prior to your departure may create difficulties when applying for future U.S. visas.
Below are resources that may be of help to you while at MSU.
Public Transportation Links:
- CATA Bus system in Lansing and East Lansing: cata.org/
- Train system to travel within the U.S.: www.amtrak.com
- Bus system to travel within the U.S.: greyhoundbus.com/ or megabus.com
- Bus system to/from Detroit Metro Airport: www.michiganflyer.com
- Taxi Services: www.yellowpages.com/east-lansing-mi./taxis
Banks Available in the East Lansing area:
- MSU Federal Credit Union: www.msufcu.org
- First Merit Bank: www.firstmerit.com
- Chase: www.chase.com
- Fifth Third Bank: www.53.com
- Bank of America: www.bankofamerica.com
- PNC Bank: www.pnc.com/en
- Huntington Bank: www.huntington.com
Banking Note: You will want to compare services and costs of several different banks before choosing one at which to open an account. Find out whether the banks offer interest on checking accounts, what the interest rate is for saving accounts, whether the account offers overdraft protection, and what fees the bank may charge for accounts.