International Students and Scholars

328 O'Dowd Hall
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-3358
Fax: (248) 370-3351

Translate this Page

Current Students

F-1 & J-1
YOUR Responsibility Sheet as an F-1/J-1 visa holder student:
  1. Register for a full-time credit load. Be a full time student in fall and winter semester, unless summer semester is your first semester at OU then you must be a full time student in summer. UG students = 12 credits, Grad/PhD student = 8 or 9 for MSITM and MBA programs. There are few exceptions on the under enrollment form listed on our website under forms.  Attend and pass all of your classes. If school is too difficult, speak to the ISSO immediately. Do not drop a class without first speaking to the ISSO.
  2. Keep your passport valid. Your passport should always have at least 6 months of eligibility. If you need to renew it, make sure to start the process at least 6 months before it expires. Consult your home country embassy or consulate for your passport renewal process. We encourage you to keep a copy of your passport and visa.   
  3. You must report any changes to your record to the ISSO within 10 days. This includes address and phone number, as well as any employer or supervisor changes if participating in OPT/OPT STEM. Your US address must be current at all times. If you are a current student, update your MySAIL record with your current address within 10 days. If you are on OPT/OPT STEM use the change of address form located
  4. Attend Mandatory Orientation. Upon your arrival and within your first few days of the semester, ISSO MUST register your record in SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System).  Otherwise, your SEVIS record will be terminated.  Consult the ISSO website for a list of items you are required to complete upon your arrival into the country and orientation day.  If you brought your F2 or J2 spouse or child(ren) into the US, please come to the ISSO upon arrival so we can get a copy of their required passport and visa.
  5. Understand International Travel Requirements. Travel signatures are valid for one year for F-1 students, 6 months for J-1 students, and 6 months for students on OPT and OPT STEM. Learn when you can and can’t travel as an F-1/J-1 student. You MUST have a valid F-1/J-1 visa and status to travel back in the USA. Visit ISSO website under current students and travel guidelines.
  6. Extend/Apply for Changes to your Major and/or Program Level.  You will initiate this process with your Academic Adviser.  Once your major has been formally updated with your Academic Adviser, please see your International Adviser in ISSO to get an updated I-20/DS-2019 issued to properly reflect this change. If you have been admitted into a new program, you will be issued a new I-20 at least 60 days before the completion of your first program.  If your program will require more time than originally granted, you will need submit an extension form at least 30 days prior to the end date in order to allow enough time to obtain new I-20/DS-2019.
  7. You must take action to maintain your legal status or depart the United States after completing your program of study. For F-1 students, you have a grace period of 60 days for J-1 students you have a grace period of 30 days to remain in the United States. If you wish to extend your stay in the United States, talk with the ISSO to learn more about doing one of the following: 1. Transfer to another school, 2. Change your education level, 3. Apply to change status to another visa status (e.g. H-1B temporary worker)
  8. You must maintain Health Insurance coverage. You must be covered by the International Student Health Insurance plan, unless you qualify for one of the few exceptions.
  9. Employment: As an F-1/J-1 student you can work on campus from your first semester 20 hours per week when school is in session. During summer and vacation periods you can work up to 40 hours. J-1 students must fill out employment form on ISSO website before starting to work. Working off-campus requires a CPT or OPT authorization.  Please see ISSO website for more information. You must apply for a Social Security Card before starting to work. Visit ISSO website under Social Security and Driver’s License for more information
  10. Use your resources! Take advantage of all of the resources that are out there. Stay in contact with your International Students and Scholars Office. Attend our workshops, seminars, events, and Walk-In Hours.                                                                            Here are some tips: Do not spend hours surfing the web, scouring for answers from different chat groups, etc. There is so much erroneous information out there – you will drive yourself mad from the conflicting information.  Random strangers and friends of friends love to share their experience or what they have heard from others with you. Remember – everyone’s situation is different; what may apply to one person may not apply to you; but more importantly, by the time the information is shared with you, it may have been passed down so many times that the information is not accurate.  You do not need to know everything so do not be afraid to ask for help!                                            Top 10 Places You Should Know On Campus as an F1/J1 Visa Type Student
    1. International Students & Scholars / Global Engagement Office   
    2. Graham Health Center
    3. The Tutoring Center
    4. Oakland Center       
    5. Kresge Library
    6. Athletics Center O’rena
    7. Recreation Center
    8. Office of Student Involvement
    9. The Writing Center
    10. OU Police Department
If you are planning to travel outside th U.S,, make sure you have these things in order to re-enter the United States. Consult the International Student Advisors for further information.
  • A valid passport.
    • We recommend one that is valid 6 months into the future.
  • A valid F-1 or J-1 visa.
    • If you are traveling to Canada or Mexico or an adjacent island which includes Saint Pierre, Miquelon, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territories or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea for 30 days or less, a valid American visa is not required for most countries. This is called Automatic Revalidation of an expired visa. However, you may be required to obtain a visa from any of these countries; check with their embassies for details.
    • If you are traveling to a country other than Canada or Mexico, but do not have a valid American visa, you must obtain a new one. To do this, you must get a new I-20 from the ISSO and supply financial documentation to verify sufficient funds. NOTE: Make sure that your visa will not expire before or during your trip. If you have been outside the United States for five months or longer and your F-1 or J-1 visa is still valid (i.e., unexpired), you may need a NEW visa according to a recent State Department rule. Please check with the nearest U.S. consulate to determine if your visa is still valid for entry to the U.S.
    • If you are a citizen of Iran, Syria, Sudan, North Korea or Cuba, you are not eligible for Automatic Revalidation.
    • It is your responsibility to determine if the country you plan to visit requires a valid visa for you to enter.
  • Your I-94 card (white card in your passport for Canadian citizens travelling to the USA by car or card that you have to print upon arrival to the USA here).
    • Remember to turn in your I-94 card as you depart the U.S. unless you are travelling to Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island. In that case, make sure you do not give this up upon your departure when leaving the U.S.
  • A valid I-20 (F-1 students) DS-2019 (J-1 students) with a travel signature (page three on I-20) and revalidation signature (on the right side on DS-2019) dated less than six months from your planned date of re-entry to the U.S. from a Designated School Officer/Responsible Officer (Petra or Dave at the ISSO). 
  • Evidence of adequate finances.
    • Only if you are obtaining a new visa.
  • A copy of your current course schedule.
    • You can print this through SAIL.
A student who entered the country on some other immigration status (such as H, L or B) and subsequently received F or J student status from the USCIS, should consult the ISSO before departing the United States, even to Canada or Mexico. Since such a student does not have an F or J visa stamp issued by a U.S. consulate, the student will need to petition for a student visa stamp at a U.S. consulate outside the United States to re-enter on the student status. A change of status is valid only as long as the student is within the United States and abides by the requirements of the student status. It does not allow re-entry without appropriate visa category.

For students under NSEERS Special Registration, please remember to leave enough time for your exit interview at your last port of departure.

Travel on OPT or OPT STEM (F-1 students)

Same applies as above plus:
  • Valid OPT card.
  • Employment offer letter.
  • Updated I-20 signature with the employer’s information listed on page 3.
ISSO does not recommend traveling outside of North America and applying for a new visa when on OPT.

  • Any time you leave the U.S., there is no guarantee you will be allowed to return.
  • If you have applied for an extension of stay or change of status, these procedures must be completed before traveling outside the U.S.
Change your
major/educ. level
Follow these steps to change your major:
  1. Make an appointment with an academic adviser for your desired new major. 
  2. Inform ISSO of your major change.  We will verify the change in the system, and then print you a new I-20 accordingly.  We will inform you when the new I-20 is ready for pickup.
  3. For students changing educational level from PhD to Master's Degree within the same discipline, please plan a head, you must meet with an academic adviser, as well as Graduate Study one semester prior to the semester you want the change to take place. Also remember, you MUST be a full time student in your first semester in a new degree program, this means you would be required to take at least 8 credits in the first semester you have changed to Master's from PhD
Study Abroad
for F-1/J-1 Students
Are you an F-1 or J-1 student who would like to study or do research outside of the United States? Do you want to know how to keep your F-1/J-1 visa and status in the US active while doing this research? We encourage all students to take advantage of international academic experiences. As an international student you will work with both the ISSO and the Study Abroad offices about visas and entry requirements for the destination you plan to visit.

F-1 Students

Report your study abroad or research plans to the ISSO: Get a letter of support from your academic advisor or director of graduate studies which confirms:

  • the timeframe you will be outside the US,
  • the purpose of your research,
  • that you will pursue research on a full-time basis,
  • when you are expected to return to OU,
  • what you will have remaining to do at OU upon your return,
  • your anticipated completion date.

How to keep your F-1 status active while you are away:

  • Register as a full-time student at Oakland every semester (including the semester when you are abroad)
  • Keep a local MI address and phone number at all times.
  • Get a travel signature on your I-20 before departing the US. If the signature on your I-20 will be more than a year or on your DS-2019 more than six months old by the time you reenter the US, you need to get a new signature before you travel
  • Continue to check your Oakland email while you are outside of the US. It's the only way we would contact you if there is any issue with your immigration record.

When, where and for how long can I study abroad?

  • You may study abroad any time in your academic career except for the last semester prior to your graduation
  • Please schedule an appointment with the international adviser and study abroad adviser to discuss visa regulations and restrictions according to your status

What to do when you want to return to the US:

  • Contact the ISSO at at least two months prior to your return to let us know you’re coming back.
  • Present your immigration documents to the ISSO for review upon your return 
  • Check your F-1 entry visa to see if it will be valid when you plan to return to the US. If your visa will expire before your return, you must renew your visa.  You need to get a new visa from a US consulate or embassy outside of the US. You can’t apply for a new visa inside the US.

Learn about the documents you need to compile for your new visa application at  For information regarding visa renewal, please visit the U.S. Embassy website for a list of U.S. embassies around the globe. You may also want to read the Department of State information on visa denials, and tips on how to apply for a visa. Review information on how to make a visa appointment, and to check on visa wait times in the city you plan to apply. If you have applied for a visa and your application has been delayed as the results of a security advisory opinion please contact the ISSO office at

What documents are needed? 

  1. Passport
    An unexpired passport valid at least six months into the future. 

  2. I-20 or DS-2019
    A valid I-20 or DS-2019, which has been signed for travel.  If the signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 will be more than a year old by the time you reenter the US, you need to get a new signature from an International Adviser before you travel. For students on OPT the travel signature is only valid for six months. And remember, the US government determines your eligibility to enter the US. Make sure to have all needed travel documents with you.  We also recommend having an extra copy of your travel documents.   

  3. Proof of Financial Support
    Proof of financial support as reflected on the I-20 or DS-2019. This may include personal or family bank statements, an affidavit of support (UG Students) or affidavit of support (Grad students), or copies of your fellowship or scholarship letter. 

  4. Enrollment Verification
    Proof of full-time enrollment at Oakland University, you may bring with you an official transcript, also ISSO can generate official full time letter

  5. SEVIS Fee Receipt
    Proof that you have paid the SEVIS fee. Get your SEVIS fee receipt

If you want to work immediately upon returning to the US:

You need to be physically present in the US if you want to apply for any F-1 or J-1 off-campus work authorization. Remember, it usually takes about 90 days to get your employment card. If you think that you may want to work immediately after returning to the US, talk to the international adviser prior to leaving to discuss how you can make this possible.

J-1 Students

Please schedule an appointment with the international adviser at the ISSO with your research or study abroad plans. Be sure to tell us how long you plan to be away for. We will then let you know if and how you can keep your J-1 status active while outside of the US.

Do I need a visa to get into my study abroad destination country/transit country(ies)?

Your admission into another country – including transit countries – will depend on your country of citizenship, as well as your specific country of destination. When researching your possible visa needs, remember to factor in connecting flights. Some destinations may also have requirements about the length of validity of your U.S. visa.  There are several visa service providers, like Travisa, that may be able to assist in visa requirements. Allow yourself enough time to apply for a visa for your destination abroad.  To find out if you will need a visa for the country you wish to enter, please visit Travisa and/or the appropriate consulate or embassy website for that particular country. 

What are my payment responsibilities?

Program fees may be paid differently for various types of programs. If you are participating in non-Oakland University sponsored program, you may pay some fees directly to host institutions or third party providers. All programs have some fees paid directly to Oakland University, which will be posted on your OU e-bill. Please meet with your study abroad adviser to discuss how fees are paid. What you pay directly to OU is due on the same date as your tuition and fees are due for registration for the semester in which you will study abroad. Any financial aid awarded to you will be deducted from the total charges.

Program costs vary. If you wish to withdraw from your program or are unable to obtain a travel visa for your program destination, you should be aware of the cancellation policy. 

Do I need insurance?

You are required to carry the United Healthcare Student medical insurance through Oakland while on your F and J Visa status.  This insurance will remain valid during your participation in an Oakland study abroad program.

from OU
F-1 students who have made a commitment to attend another institution must inform their ISSO advisers and request that their SEVIS records be electronically released to the new school. It is advised that you discuss travel plans and new program start dates with your adviser before settling on a SEVIS transfer release date.
  1. Complete the top portion of the transfer-out form, found in the Forms section of our website, sign and give it to the international office of the transferring university. They will complete the bottom portion and fax it back to Oakland University.  
  2. Submit a proof of admission to the new institution. 
  3. Allow one week for processing the transfer. Please note: after the transfer-out date Oakland University will no longer have access to your SEVIS record.
  4. If you are also registered for a future semester at OU, do not forget to withdraw from your courses and fulfill any financial obligations with the University before you transfer to your new school or leave the U.S
  5. Contact the new school's international admissions office to arrange when and how to receive your new I-20.