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Maintaining status

Role and Responsibility of the International Scholar


  • You must check in with OISS within 20 days of your program start date. This includes all J-1 scholars (paid or unpaid by the university). If your SEVIS record is not activated within 30 days of the program start date, you are out of status and must leave the country. This start date is found on your form DS-2019.
    Note: If you are unable to make the arrival date listed on your DS-2019, the host department must contact OISS so that your entry date can be deferred in the SEVIS system. If this is not done, and you check in beyond the 30 day grace period, there will be no way to activate your record in SEVIS. It is, therefore, critical for you to be in contact with your host department and OISS to confirm your arrival date.
  • To check in, come to OISS Monday through Friday from 8:20am - 11:30am or 1pm - 4:30pm. Please tell the front desk that you are here for "scholar check in." Upon check in, you must provide OISS with your U.S. address. This address must describe a residence. It cannot be a P.O Box or an office address. It can be a "care of" address. Bring your DS-2019, emergency contact information (one domestic, one international), and your passport to check in. You will also be asked to complete an I-9 if you are employed by the university.


  • You and your dependents must have current passports at all times. An expired passport will mean you are out of status. If you as the J-1 are out of status, so are your J-2 dependents.
  • You must always be in possession of a valid DS-2019, which accurately reflects your purpose for being at MSU. If it is close to expiring, you should request an extension from your host department.
  • You and your dependents must come to OISS to have your DS-2019 signed, if you will travel outside the United States. Travel signatures are valid for 6 months.
  • You must also report any life event that may affect your immigration status such as birth of a child, marriage, change of legal name, divorce or death. This rule also extends to J-2 dependents.
  • You must report any change of address to OISS within 5 days.
  • If you are working at MSU you will need a social security number. If you do not have a social security number, come to OISS for further information.


  • When your program is finished you must submit a Notice of Departure to OISS. OISS is required to report your program end date to the federal government. This could be the end date on your DS-2019 or it could be a prior date if you complete your program early.
  • If your J-2 dependents will be departing the US prior to your program end date and prior to your arrival and not returning, they must submit a J-2 Notice of Departure to our office.


  • Request for extension must be made by your host department using the J-1 Request Form (PDF)*.
  • Your program must be extended before the end date on your current DS-2019. If the end date lapses then no extension is possible and you must leave the United States.
  • To ensure that this process runs smoothly, have your host department send OISS any extension paperwork at least two weeks prior to the program end date. OISS will then verify that you are eligible for an extension and process the paperwork.
  • J-1 scholars, students, and dependents (J-2s) are required to have major medical insurance for the duration of the program.


  • J-1 scholars who plan to transfer to another institution must inform OISS of their intent to do so prior to transferring so that this can be properly noted in the SEVIS system. They need to pick up and complete the transfer out form from OISS. 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 that your transfer is okay with the department.


  • Inappropriate advice given to the scholar by a faculty member, academic adviser or international adviser that results in loss of legal status is not accepted by USCIS as grounds to reinstate the scholar to legal status.
  • Reinstatement to legal status will rarely, if ever, be granted in the U.S. to scholars who lose their status. If you are out of status, you must return home with no guarantee of being issued a visa to return.
  • J-2 dependents may request work permission from USCIS or attend school while they are in the United States.
  • If you are being paid in the United States, you must file tax forms. Please contact the payroll department for more information.

*Adobe Acrobat Reader Opens in new window is required to read PDF documents.

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