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International Students and Scholars

O'Dowd Hall 328
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-3358
Fax: (248) 370-3351
[email protected]
Monday - Friday: 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM, 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM

International Students and Scholars

O'Dowd Hall 328
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-3358
Fax: (248) 370-3351
[email protected]
Monday - Friday: 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM, 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM

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Two young women standing in a room of people, talking to each other.

Newly Admitted Students

We extend a warm welcome to all new international students and hope that you find the community here rich with opportunities to achieve all of your goals. Watch Moumita Choudhury's journey as an international OU student.

After you have been admitted, the ISSO will be notified and will prepare your I-20 or DS-2019 so that you can apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa at a United States consulate.

F1 student athletes and Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL): Please see  the International Student-Athlete section on  NIL Link for more information.

Pre-Arrival Welcome Guide

There’s six things you should focus on when preparing to arrive at Oakland University:

  • Connect to Oakland University by creating your NETID.
    • Setting up your Oakland University NETID and email allows you to access on-campus resources and start receiving official communications from the university community.  
  • Get ready for your embassy visit.
    • Before making travel arrangements, you will need to obtain an appropriate United States visa. 
  • Search for housing.
    • The earlier you start looking for housing, the more options you will have.
  • Gain an understanding of basic immigration rules.
    • In order to maintain your legal status, you must check in with our office when you arrive in the United States. 
  • Learn about healthcare while you are in the United States. 
    • Review our health insurance, how it works, and what is covered and not covered. 
  • Formulate a plan to get to campus after arriving in Detroit.
    • Arrange transportation to Oakland University from Metro Detroit Airport (DTW).
Pay I-901 SEVIS Fee

The first thing you should do is carefully review your I-20 or DS-2019 for accuracy upon receipt of the "Welcome Packet". Immediately report any I-20 or DS-2019 errors by email to the ISSO at [email protected]

I-901 Form (SEVIS Fee)

You will need to fill in the I-901 form with information from your I-20 or DS-2019 form and pay the required fee. Most transfer or continuing students/exchange visitors are not required to re-pay the fee, except for a few unique circumstances. For complete information on who is required to pay the fee, see the SEVP website at: ice.gov/sevis/students 

For most students, the SEVIS I-901 fee is $350 for F-1 visa holders and $220 for J-1 visa holders. You pay the SEVIS fee at fmjfee.com - make sure to print off the receipt to bring with you to your embassy visit. 

Activate your Oakland University Accounts

Visit oakland.edu/activate for instructions on activating your official Oakland email and MySAIL (student portal) accounts. You will need your Grizzly ID from your acceptance letter. Set up both accounts immediately and begin checking them regularly. The ISSO will begin communicating with you regularly.

Apply for a Visa and Get Ready for Your Embassy Visit

Pre-embassy Visit

DS-160 Form

The DS-160 form is the application for a visa to the United States. Locate the website of the United States embassy or consulate where you will apply for a visa. Each consulate will be a bit different, but you are looking for the non-immigrant visa section. The United States Department of State has a frequently asked questions list that is regularly updated if you have any questions. Make sure you select the correct visa type. 

After submitting the DS-160, you will schedule an interview for the visa. To get an estimate of visa appointment wait times, use the United States Department of State's estimated wait time list

The embassy will let you know which documents you need to bring for the visa appointment. At the very least, you will need the following: 

  • Valid passport (at least 6 months into the future) for you and any dependents coming with you
  • Form I-20 or DS-2019 for you and any dependents coming with you
  • Bank statement, scholarship letter, or any other financial proof cited on your I-20 or DS-2019. These funds must be cash, or readily converted to cash on hand.
  • Oakland University admission letter
  • Proof of I-901 fee payment (SEVIS fee receipt)

Immigration Documentation

Make sure to get your visa stamped at the United States embassy/consulate in your country. Also, confirm the dates/personal information are correct, and match your other documents, such as your passport and I-20 and DS-2019. ISSO advisors cannot inquire on your behalf to the embassy or consulate, so you must advocate for yourself if a document is incorrect. 

Students Who Are Canadian Citizens

Students entering the United States in F-1 or J-1 immigration status DO NOT need to schedule an appointment with the United States embassy or consulate to obtain a visa stamp in their passport. 

When entering the United States from Canada, do not enter as a tourist. You must present your I-20 or DS-2019 to the Customs and Border Patrol Inspector upon your arrival at the border, and be able to present financial verification (bank statement, scholarship letter, etc.), if asked. 

Embassy Visit: Tips to Remember

NAFSA, the professional organization that oversees international educators in the United States, has created 10 bullet points to remember when applying for a visa abroad. These should be used as general guidelines when applying for a visa. 

The International Students and Scholars Office at Oakland University has also interviewed current students to gain a consensus of some general questions that you should be prepared to answer during your interview. In the visa appointment, you will need to explain your reason for attending school in the United States, how your field of study relates to your future professional career and any economic or social ties that you have towards your home country. Sample US Visa Interview Questions for your reference. The questions are also located in International Student Orientation, Part One on eSpace. 

Plan for Housing


Oakland University Housing has seven residence halls and two apartment complexes. Living on campus means you have access to laundry, meal plans, mail service and more, right at your fingertips. Residence halls rooms include an extra-long twin or full bed and mattress, dresser, desk & chair, shelves & closet space, lighting, a waste basket and window blinds. Student apartments include furnished bedrooms and living rooms, in-unit washers and dryers, and kitchen appliances. Living on campus gives students independence and a built-in community. Oakland University has consistently been ranked as one of the safest college campuses in the United States, and the overall safest in Michigan.  Housing can assist you in filling out the application, and selecting the right housing type for you. On-campus housing has reached maximum occupancy in the past, so we recommend applying as soon as you are able. University Housing can assist you in filling out the application and selecting the right housing type for you. 


The information provided in this section is provided as a community service for prospective and current students. Oakland University does not screen, review or otherwise check any of the information displayed below. A housing lease is a legally binding document. Be sure to read and ensure that you understand your rights and responsibilities before signing. 

In the past, students have also had success posting on the International Students and Scholars Facebook page or connecting on the ISSO's channel on Slack with their contact information/that they were looking for a roommate. 

Temporary Accommodation

When first arriving in Michigan, you may want to stay in a hotel before finding permanent housing accommodations. The closest hotel to campus is Extended Stay America - Auburn Hills. This location is less than a quarter of a mile from campus, and a ten minute walk to the center of campus. 

There are also a few other hotels near campus, but they are not within walking distance, so consider if you want to be booking an Uber or Lyft when you need to get to campus. When making a reservation at a hotel, as if there are any student discounts as a university student. 

A few students have been able to book Airbnbs or Vrbo accommodations near campus. However, these are subject to availability, and may not be available within walking distance to campus. 

It is up to you to choose the temporary accommodation that is best for your budget.

Prepare for your Transfer

If you are enrolled at another institution in the United States or are currently working on OPT or OPT STEM, work with your current school to determine the best date to transfer your SEVIS record to Oakland. ISSO is not able to issue you a new I-20 or DS-2019 until your record is released in SEVIS by your current school. Be aware that as soon as your SEVIS release date has passed, you are no longer authorized to work any on or off-campus employment from your previous school and would need to reapply for work permission through Oakland University.

If you are transferring from another university in the United States, and leave the country, you should enter the United States on your new Oakland University I-20 or DS-2019. You do not need to apply for a new visa as long as your current visa is still valid. However, the SEVIS ID number on the visa must match the SEVIS ID number on your new I-20 or DS-2019. This is why it is important to transfer your I-20 to Oakland and enter the United States with a transfer-pending I-20.

Meet with your Academic Adviser and Register for Classes

New undergraduate first-year students can schedule an academic advising meeting by contacting the First Year Advising Center at [email protected]. Descriptions for all Oakland University undergraduate courses, as well as all program requirements, general regulations, and university procedures, can be found in the Undergraduate Catalog. Undergraduate students can find their academic advisers on the OU website, or in MySAIL.

The Graduate School provides virtual and remote services for graduate students. Visit the Graduate School for information on services to support graduate students. Descriptions for all Oakland University graduate courses, as well as all program requirements, general regulations, and university procedures, can be found in the Graduate Catalog. Graduate students can also find the contact information for their academic adviser on their admission letter.

To register for classes, first review the registration instructions from the OU Registrar webpage, and then visit MySAIL to register.

Join Espace and Orientation Part One

After you have received your I-20 or DS-2019 from the ISSO, we will enroll you in our Espace classroom for Orientation Part One. This part of the orientation will be carried out virtually. You do not need to be present on campus for Part One but you will need to create your OU email account to access the orientation modules. You must complete this first and then sign up for Orientation Part Two. Ideally Part Two will be in-person. If you have issues accessing Espace, please email [email protected] for assistance.

Arrival and Orientation

Admitted international students are required to arrive at Oakland University by their I-20 or DS-2019 start date.

Arriving in the United States

Be sure to have all of your paperwork with you when traveling in your personal item, or carry-on luggage. You want to be able to easily access the following documents if asked:

  • Valid passport
  • Form I-20 or DS-2019
  • Visa stamp (unless you are a Canadian citizen)
  • Immunization record (if required to enter the United States from your home country)

You will pass through Customs and Border Protection with your first stop in the United States (regardless if you have a connecting flight to Detroit or not). Additionally, if your flight pattern includes a stop at a USCBP (United States Customs and Border Patrol Preclearance) facility, you may pass through border control before arriving in the United States. 

Important Travel Tips 

The final destination on your airline ticket should be Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW). The ISSO does not recommend flying into a regional airport, as they are further from campus, and transportation options are severely limited to get to campus. Detroit Metro Airport is a designated international airport serving seventeen airlines. 

When booking your ticket, you will want to plan on arriving in Detroit with at least a few days before your program start date (remember that international students/exchange visitors can enter the country up to 30 days before their program start date begins) to give yourself time to become acclimated to the area, and explore the Oakland University campus before International Student Orientation begins. Check the baggage requirements and restrictions of the airline you will be flying with so that you can ensure all of your belongings will arrive safely. 

Things to Keep in Mind While Traveling: Always carry your important documents on your person. Do NOT leave them in your luggage. Keep copies of these documents in your luggage, or on your cell phone. Have some small denominations of United

States currency with you when traveling ($1 bill, 25 cent coins, etc.). This will be helpful if you want to buy food in vending machines. Carry most of your money on your credit or debit card. You should only carry around $500 USD with you in cash.

Arrival in Detroit 

Detroit is Michigan's largest city and has the largest airport in the state. Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) is about an hour drive from Rochester, or 45 miles. Upon arrival, keep all of your belongings with you at all times. Do not leave any items unattended. Bring only what you can carry conveniently. 

Ask about ground transportation at an information desk in the airport. You will be directed to a location where you can get a taxi. Metro Cab and Metro Car Services are available on location. 

Ride-sharing, such as Uber or Lyft, is also available from the airport to Oakland University's campus, if drivers are available. Ridesharing drivers use their own unmarked cars to drive you to your destination. You will need to download the app to your phone, and attach a credit card to your account (drivers do not take cash). From the Detroit Metro Airport to OU in a basic Uber car, the estimated cost is $75-115, depending on time of day, and driver availability. 

Plan your arrival to land during the day, when information desks are staffed, and there are plenty of drivers available. If your plane lands in the middle of the night, there are not many services open to you, and you may struggle to get transportation to campus.

Alumni or current international students will often help with transportation from the airport – you can connect with others by posting on our Facebook page or Slack. We also work closely with a local non-profit organization, International Oasis, and you can request airport pickup on their website.

Arrival Planning

After you arrive at Oakland University, you should plan on accomplishing the following tasks:

  • Attend International Student Orientation (Part Two) in-person
  • Enroll in the healthcare plan through United Health Student Resources
  • Obtain your Oakland University Student ID Card (Grizzcard)
  • Open a bank account (savings, checking)
  • Set up your living space by installing utilities, telephone, cable, furniture, etc.
  • Shop for a cell phone if you didn't bring one with you
  • Acquire a driver's license or Michigan ID card at the Michigan Secretary of State
  • Purchase books for classes
  • Attend the first day of class

At this point, you should have completed Orientation Part One through Espace. The second part of orientation is a group event with scheduled activities. Check your Oakland University email regularly for updates regarding this. 

Attendance is mandatory for all new, transferring, and change of status international students. Please be on time and be aware that we have a no guest policy.

Bring the following items to orientation:

  • Passport or a copy of a legal ID such as Valid Driver's License for personal verification
  • After you arrive in the United States, and before you come to orientation, be sure to fill out the mandatory Orientation Check In Form and to upload the following documents
    • Copy of your I-94 card
    • Please attach a copy of your Visa page from your passport
    • If you have F-2 or J-2 dependents (spouse or children) who traveled with you into the United States, upload their I-20/DS-2019s and passports