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Frequently Asked Questions

You may have questions about the upcoming Fall 2021 semester. Please read through the following information to find answers to some of your questions, and as always, contact OISS for help on issues specific to your situation. 

Initial Students

The below Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are intended for Initial Students who will be in the United States in the Fall 2021 semester.

  1. How will MSU operate in the fall 2021 semester?

    MSU President Samuel Stanley announced in March 05, 2021 that the university is planning for a more typical fall semester, with 75% of undergraduate classes offered in person. Classes will be offered in multiple scenarios — in person, hybrid and some still online. Graduate and graduate-professional instruction will be configured to best support the educational missions of their programs.

  2. What is the definition of a “new” student for I-20 purposes?

    A “new” student or an “initial” student for immigration purposes is a student who did not enter the United States but is planning to enter in the fall 2021 semester. An example of a new student is:
    • A fall 2021 admitted student who will enter the U.S. and establish F-1 status in the fall semester.
    • Students who started their studies abroad in fall 2020 or spring 2021 but have not yet traveled to the U.S. to establish status. Students will have an ‘initial’ Form I-20 or DS-2019.  
    • A student who entered the U.S. in the past with an F-1 visa stamp but did not maintain their status and is returning with a new/initial I-20. An example of this is a sophomore student who took a leave of absence and is returning to MSU with a new/initial I-20.
    • A student who was in an F-1 status in the past, but did not maintain their F-1 status and is returning in fall 2021 with a new/initial I-20.
    • Students who are in the U.S. and are in the process of applying for change of status to F-1 are also considered “new” upon approval of their change of status.

  3. What are the enrollment requirements for new students who enter the U.S.?

    New students who are able to enter the U.S. in F-1 status must enroll full-time for fall 2021. Additionally, new students must have at least one in-person course to maintain their F-1 status.
    Typical enrollment requirements are below (note that some programs may have exceptions):
    Undergraduate: 12 credits 
    Masters: 9 credits
    Masters with assistantship: 6 credits
    Doctoral: 6 credits 
    Doctoral with assistantship: 3 credits 
    Doctoral student who is coded “all but dissertation”: 1 credit

  4. Do I need an updated I-20 if I will not enter the U.S. in the fall 2021 semester?

    If you will not enter the U.S. by September 01, 2021 (or the start of classes for your program), you must submit a request to OISS to defer the ‘program start date’ on the form I-20. The ‘program start date’ on I-20 must match the start date of the semester you arrive in the US.
    Review questions 5-7 to learn more about deferring your arrival or deferring your admission.

  5. Can I begin my studies from abroad for the fall semester?

    If you want to begin your studies from abroad, you will need to defer your arrival. Deferring your arrival will allow you to begin your studies from abroad, delay your travel plans to a later semester, and update your immigration record (I-20/DS-2019) to reflect your change in plans.

    Students must complete the I-20 Verification request to inform OISS about their deferred arrival. Students were emailed information and a link to their MSU email address about the I-20 Verification Request.

    Graduate students must work with their academic department to determine if studying from abroad is an option. Graduate students must contact their graduate department or program to notify them of their deferred arrival plans. Undergraduate students must contact their academic or graduate advisor to make sure they are enrolled in only online courses.

  6. I am planning to start my studies from abroad, what are the enrollment requirements for students who are unable to enter the U.S.?

    New students who will begin their studies from abroad must enroll in a minimum of one online course in order to maintain your admission status with MSU for fall semester 2021. There is not an enrollment requirement for immigration purposes, however students who have been awarded certain scholarships may be required to enroll full time in order to maintain eligibility. Questions about scholarship eligibility and enrollment requirements should be directed to the admissions office.

    Once a student enters the US and establishes status, there will be additional enrollment requirements related to maintaining immigration status. Students should work with their academic/graduate advisor for academic and enrollment related questions.

    If the student will not enroll in any courses for fall 2021, please refer to question 7.


  7. What do I do if I want to defer my admissions?

    Deferring your admission term will allow you to change your admission term from fall to spring, delay your travel plans to Spring 2022, and update/maintain your immigration record (I-20/DS-2019). If you defer your admission term from fall to spring, you will be unable to enroll for courses during the fall semester from abroad. Students must confirm directly with the admissions office to discuss eligibility for admissions deferral, and deferral of any scholarships or awards the student may have.

    Students must complete the I-20 Verification request to inform OISS about their deferred arrival. Students were emailed information and a link to their MSU email address about the I-20 Verification Request.

    Undergraduate students must contact their MSU admissions counselor to notify them of their deferred arrival plans. Graduate students must contact their graduate department or program to notify them of their deferred arrival plans

Travel

What are the current travel bans or entry restrictions to the U.S.?

Several Presidential proclamations suspend and limit entry into the United States by F-1 students who were physically present within the following countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

Information about the geographic COVID-19 travel restriction proclamations can be found on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Website as well as the Department of State webpages.

    1. What are the current travel bans or entry restrictions into the U.S.? 

      Several Presidential proclamations suspend and limit entry into the United States by F-1 students who were physically present within the following countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

      Information about the geographic COVID-19 travel restriction proclamations can be found on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Website as well as the Department of State webpages.

    2. What is the National Interest Exception (NIE)?

      Students with valid F-1 visa stamps on their passport may travel directly from China, India, Iran, South Africa and Brazil to the U.S. to begin or continue an academic program of study on August 01, 2021, or later. Students from these countries do not need to contact a U.S. embassy or consulate for an individual NIE.

      F-1 visa holders from the Schengen area, Ireland and the United Kingdom may travel directly from the Schengen area, Ireland and the United Kingdom at any time, even prior to August 1st. There is no requirement to contact a U.S. consulate or embassy for an NIE. New students may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their program start date.

    3. Do I need COVID testing to enter the U.S.?

      Anyone traveling by plane to the United States from an international location must present proof of a negative viral COVID test within 72 hours of departure to the U.S. This requirement applies to everyone including citizens and permanent residents. It’s also required even if the traveler has been fully vaccinated against COVID. Please review detailed guidance from the CDC.

    4. Do I need to be vaccinated to attend MSU for Fall 2021?

      On July 30, 2021, Michigan State University made the decision to require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Aug. 31 (either fully or with at least one dose of a two-dose vaccine), with limited medical and religious exemptions. Additionally, all individuals are now required to wear a mask indoors on any MSU property.

      Find more information on the Together We Will website.

    5. Can OISS help me secure a visa appointment? 

      Unfortunately, OISS is unable to assist in securing a visa appointment or an expedited request for a visa appointment. U.S. embassies and consulates are reopening around the world. Per the State Department, student visas are being prioritized. Students are encouraged to check their local embassy or consulate services' website. Embassies and consulate services operate independently and their visa appointment availabilities depends on the public health situation in their locality.

    6. What is the earliest I can enter the U.S.? 

      The earliest date a new student can attempt to enter the U.S. is 30 days within program start date. The I-20 should indicate the earliest admission date, on page 1 of the I-20, under program of study section.

    7. What is the latest date I can enter the U.S. as a new student? 

      New students should enter the U.S. by start of classes. Fall 2021 classes will begin September 01, 2021. Students must enter the U.S. and complete the necessary immigration check-in requirements by September 01, 2021.

    8. Can MSU provide me with a letter for entry into the U.S. or for a visa appointment? 

      A standard letter of support can be found on the OISS website at: Travel Letter for F-1 Students.

    9. What documents are required when traveling to the U.S.? 

      • Students must carry the following documents to enter the US:
      • Valid (unexpired) F-1 visa
      • Valid (unexpired) passport
      • Valid I-20 (I-20 with program start date that matches the semester of arrival)
    10. I have a valid F-1 visa stamp. Does that guarantee entry into the U.S.? 

      An F-1 visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. An F-1 visa only allows a student to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States.

      After you present your passport, visa, and Form I-20 (endorsed for travel) at the port-of-entry, a CBP official will make the decision to allow/deny you entry to the United States. Once you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp and electronic Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.

 

Health and Wellness

  1. Where can I find information on health insurance and COVID-related questions?

    OISS recently conducted a webinar on insurance and COVID restrictions. Visit the International Family Orientation Program website.

    For information about the U.S. Health Care and Insurance visit OISS' Health and Wellness page

    Information about policies and protocols for all MSU travelers (domestic and international) coming to campus can be found at the Together We Will website.

    Additional information can be found on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website

  2. I'm having financial challenges. What financial support is available for international students and scholars?

    Another problem the COVID-19 pandemic may create for international students and scholars is financial hardship. If you are struggling to pay rent, pay for your tuition, or are experiencing other financial distress, please make an appointment with an OISS advisor to discuss your options. OISS has limited financial assistance available to help international students and scholars facing financial challenges as a result of the pandemic. Please visit the Financial Assistance web page for other funding options across campus.

  3. Do I have health insurance? Will it cover me for COVID-19 related tests and costs?

    The MSU Student Health Insurance Plan coverage is not disrupted by the change to online classes. Questions about MSU's Student Health Insurance Plan can be directed to the HR Solutions Center, or by calling 517-353-4434. Currently, the COVID-19 test is 100% covered.

    If you need help understanding health insurance policies, contact OISS Community Health Team at ihealth(at)msu.edu.
    If you have waived out of the MSU Student Health Insurance Plan, you must contact your respective health insurance company for health insurance coverage and details.

  4. What is the Olin Health Center?

    The Olin Health Center building is the primary health care facility for MSU students and houses several departments including Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS), the Office of the University Physician, Health Services, and some Health Promotion services. 

    Health Services and related support services include primary care, allergy/immunizations, sports medicine, massage therapy, laboratory, and physical therapy.  Pharmacy and radiology services are also available on campus.

  5. Is the Olin Health Center on campus open?

    Health Services are still available for students at Olin Health Center. The Health Center is operating a bit differently to protect students. The medical clinic is open at Olin Health Center for students who are ill. Students must schedule an appointment before they arrive. Students can call (517) 353-4660 or, if they are an established patient, they can make an online request for an appointment through the MyMSUHealth patient portal.

    The laboratory at Olin Health Center is also open. The Pharmacy is closed temporarily during the COVID-19 situation. MSU Pharmacy services are available at the Clinical Center location. 

    As Olin Health Center medical services are considered essential, Olin will remain open during the summer and into the fall. Current hours to call for an appointment are Monday through Friday, from 8:30 to 11:45 am and 12:45 to 4:50 pm.

  6. Is there a way to access health care remotely?

    For students with the MSU Student Health Insurance Plan, you and your dependents now have access to online medical and behavioral health services anywhere in the United States.

    That means you can access the following health providers online:

    • A doctor for minor illnesses such as a cold, flu, or sore throat when your primary care physician isn't available, or when staying home to seek care is recommended.
    • A behavioral health clinician or psychiatrist to help work through different challenges such as anxiety, depression, and grief (Behavioral health visits are available by appointment only.)

    Follow the instructions on the Blue Cross Online Visits worksheet to get started.

    A few reminders specific to international students and scholars:

    • You do not need to notify your primary care physician, MSU Student Health Services (Olin) when utilizing this program.
    • The flier states that normal fees will be charged. Under the MSU plan, students will not be charged anything for the online visits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • You will need the info on your Blue Care Network insurance card to access the service.

    Do you need a card replacement or more info about your Blue Care Network health plan? Contact Sarah Allen with BCN at SAllen2(at)bcbsm.com.

  7. What should I do if I feel like I'm being treated unfairly, or experiencing harassment or discrimination?

    If you are experiencing difficulties in relation to academics, contact the Office of the University Ombudsperson. The office phone number is (517) 353-8830. They are also available via email: ombud(at)msu.edu. You may also contact them through the online "problem report form."

    If you have experienced discrimination or harassment on or off-campus, you can file a report with the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE).

     

Connect with OISS

  1. Is OISS open? 

    OISS is ready to serve all students and scholars through virtual advising. We are currently offering virtual advising by:

    Appointments: 20-minute Zoom video conference sessions at various times, Monday-Friday

    LiveChat Advising: for quick questions. 1 – 3 PM (EST), Monday-Friday (excluding Wednesdays)

    Due to the high volume of advising needs, students are urged to plan and allow at least 10 business days for processing employment authorization requests.

    OISS website offers advising information. Students are encouraged to utilize the OISS website. The LiveChat function will also provide students quick answers. 

  2. Who is my OISS advisor? 

    Students on F-1 visa are assigned to a specific OISS advisor. In order to evenly spread-out advising caseloads, we have assigned students to an advisor based on the student's birth month. Visit the OISS Advising Team to determine your OISS advisor.

    For example: If you were born in December, you will click the November & December tab to determine your advisor.

  3. How do I make an appointment with my OISS advisor? 

    To make an appointment with your OISS advisor, you must visit the OISS Advising Team page. We have assigned students to an advisor based on the student's birth month. Once you determine your OISS advisor, click on the drop down tap and you will find a link to make an appointment with your OISS advisor.

  4. What is MyOISS? 

    MyOISS is an online portal that all international students will use during their time at MSU for    immigration related processes. For more information on MyOISS you can view this video.

  5. What are the current document processing times at OISS? 

    Standard processing times for OISS is 8-10 business days. Students must plan accordingly and should submit their requests in a timely fashion.

  6. How do I submit immigration related applications to OISS? 

    Many requests are located in the MyOISS system. For a list of forms and processed click here