International Students and Scholars

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

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Immigration Information

International students and scholars are required to comply with all federal regulations. Before making any changes to your course of study, transfer to another institution, travel outside the United States, or accept employment, please make an appointment to discuss your situation with an OU International Student advisor. It is your responsibility as an international student/scholar to not only understand, but also follow immigration regulations.

Maintaining Status

As a condition of admission and presence in the United States, international students/scholars are required, under US immigration law, to follow certain rules. In order to maintain your status, you must follow these procedures. Upon entrance into the United States, all international students/scholars make a commitment to maintain their status by signing either a SEVIS I-20 form (F-1 student) or a DS 2019 form (J-1 student/scholar). In order to be eligible for opportunities such as employment, school transfers, and program changes, an international student/scholar must maintain his/her lawful status. Furthermore, in applying for a change of status or permanent residency, maintaining your status can be crucial to a successful application.

To maintain lawful status, you must:
  • Remain enrolled full time during winter and fall semester at the institution you are authorized to attend. For undergraduate students this is defined as 12 credit hours per semester. For graduate students, this is defined as 8 credit hours per semester, unless you are in the School of Business and then it is 9 credit hours.  
  • Maintain a valid passport with at least six months between today and its expiration date. 
  • Hold a current and updated SEVIS I-20 or a current DS-2019. These documents must reflect the degree level, field of study and program end date you are actively pursuing. 
  • Maintain the required health insurance at all times. 
  • Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours a week or less while classes are in session (full time campus employment is allowed during a vacation semester or when school is not in session.) In certain instances, work must be authorized. 
  • Know the expiration date of your 1-20 or DS-2019. If necessary, file for an extension at least 30 days before the document expires. Do not remain in the United States longer than 60 days beyond the 1-20 completion date or 30 days beyond the DS-2019 date. 
Please be aware that if you are in the US under unlawful status (failed to maintain your status) for more than six months, you may be deported and barred from re-entering the United States for at least 3 years. If you remain out of status for more than a year, you may be barred from re-entering the United States for an additional 10 years.


It is important that you carefully read both pages of DS-2019 form. If you are outside the United States, you should sign and date page one of your DS-2019. You should then present your DS-2019, evidence of your financial support and of your ties to your home country, your passport, the visa fee and a passport-size picture of yourself to the nearest American Consulate or Embassy to obtain an Exchange Visitor J-1 visa.

Canadian citizens do not need visa in the passports to enter the United States, but they do have to show Form DS-2019 and SEVIS fee receipt at the Port of Entry to obtain status as a J-1 Exchange Visitor.

If your dependents will be accompanying you, they will need J-2 visas, and you should take their passports with you to the consulate and be prepared to show proof of marriage to your spouse and proof of parenthood of each child.
Students from Canada entering the United States with either F-1 or J-1 immigration status do not need to go to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate’s Office to obtain a U.S. visa stamp.

When entering the United States:
  • Do not enter as a tourist.
  • You must enter the United States using either your I-20 or DS-2019.
What to present to the immigration inspector:
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Passport
  • Proof of SEVIS payment (make sure to print a copy when you pay the SEVIS fee)
  • Financial verification
Special Tips:
  • It is important for the inspector at the border to place a red stamp on your document and issue you a white I-94 card (this card also will have the red stamp on it). You will only receive a hard copy I-94 card if you are travelling by car from Canada to the United States
  • Make sure your I-20 is signed for travel before taking vacations home.  The second page for F-1 students should be signed each year, and the travel signature on the front page of the DS-2019, every six months.
I-94 Card
When you enter the United States check your passport to make sure that the CBP officer has put an entry stamp indicating that you entered on a certain date, in a certain visa status (e.g. F-1, J-1), and can stay until a certain date or D/S (duration of status) in the case of F and J visa holders.

Print your I-94