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J-1 Scholars and J-1 Student Interns

OISS is happy to provide support to all incoming J-1 scholars and student interns to MSU. Below you will find a helpful list of steps you should take prior to your arrival and within your first few days on campus.

Before You Leave

Read All Documents and Check for Errors

Upon receiving your DS-2019 and accompanying documents from your MSU host department, please carefully read all enclosed materials. 

When you receive your DS-2019, please review it carefully for any errors. Contact your MSU host department and  jvisas(at) immediately if you find an error on your DS-2019. 

Pay the SEVIS Fee

The SEVIS fee is a one-time fee that covers the costs of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Regulation requires all prospective scholars and student interns to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee before the Department of State issues you a visa. 

To obtain your visa, you will need a printed receipt indicating that you have paid the SEVIS I-901 fee. This fee must be paid before you arrive for your visa interview. You should keep receipt of payment with your other immigration documents.  

To pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, visit 

Check the  Paying the I-901 SEVIS Fee  page from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for more information.  

Schedule Your Visa Interview

Contact the nearest US Embassy or Consulate and schedule an interview appointment for a J-1 visa. Find your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. 

Plan to Buy Required Health Insurance

Health insurance is required for all scholars, student interns and dependents in J-1 and J-2 status. All J-1 scholars and student interns will be required to show proof of insurance shortly after their arrival.  

If your J-2 dependents will arrive in the U.S. with you, your proof of health insurance must confirm their enrollment as well.  
If your J-2 dependents will join later in your program, you will need to upload their proof of health insurance in MyOISS portal when they arrive 

If you will be an employee of MSU, then your health insurance may be covered by your host department. If you are not sure whether your host department will provide insurance, please ask your host department. 

If your health insurance is not provided by your host department, you must purchase the Blue Care Network (BCN) policy for yourself and your J-2 dependents.  

Find a Place to Live

Your host department will assist you in finding permanent housing. Please tell your department about your housing preferences. Or you can also search for housing on your own.   

Prepare for Travel

We do not recommend that you purchase plane tickets until your J-1 visa is granted. When you are shopping for tickets, please note that your flight may land in either Lansing or Detroit. 

If your flight arrives in Detroit, buy a one-way ticket, in advance, to ride on the  Michigan Flyer  bus from the Detroit Metropolitan Airport to the East Lansing Marriott. We do not recommend taking a taxi because it is a very expensive two-hour drive from Detroit to East Lansing. Taxis will be available at the bus stop in East Lansing to take you to your temporary hotel or permanent residence.  

If your flight arrives in Lansing, taxis will be available to take you to your temporary hotel or permanent residence.  

Delays in Travel and Arrival

If unexpected events cause your arrival to be delayed more than 20 days after the start date on your DS-2019 you must notify your MSU host department and  jvisas(at)  immediately. OISS must work with your host department to create a new DS-2019 for you with a later start date.  

After You Arrive

Required Immigration Check-In

You must complete your immigration check-in via MyOISS portal as soon as possible after arrival.

To complete your check-in, you will need to provide the following information and upload the following documents into the MyOISS portal: 

  • Passport biographical page 
  • Visa page in passport 
  • I-94 
  • Entry stamp in passport 
  • U.S. residential address 
  • U.S. telephone number 
  • Email address 

You may not yet have a residential address or a U.S. telephone number right away. You can provide a temporary or hotel address during check-in. 

When you move to a permanent residential address and get a U.S. telephone number, you must report this to OISS within 10 days of the change via MyOISS portal.

If you get an MSU email account you must report your MSU email viaMyOISS portal.

You will be required to submit proof of enrollment into an MSU insurance policy within 30 days after completing immigration check-in.  

  • If you are an MSU benefits-eligible employee, you will need to enroll into one of the three qualifying employee-based policies through BCN, Community Blue (non-CDHP), or Cigna. 
  • If you are a non-benefits eligible employee or not an MSU employee, you must purchase BCN Scholar Plan at your own expense. 


Information about J-1 orientation will be sent to you by email closer to the start date of your program at MSU