International Studies & Programs

After Arrival

On this page you will find things to do upon your arrival at MSU's campus. We will guide you through the process but it is important to get familiar with it by yourself. Once your MSU student account is activated we communicate with you MSU email addresses. It is important you check your MSU emails regularly to stay connected with us and receive important announcement related to your visa and student status. When things are settled, you will enjoy the best time of your life here at MSU and in Michigan.   

Updating Student Info

Prior to OISS check-in, make sure you have updated your domestic address and emergency contact information (both domestic and international).  

Follow instructions below: 

1. Login to with your nedID and password. 

2. Click "Other" on top navigation menu. 

3. Click "Addresses" 

4. Update "Current Address (the address at which you reside while in attendance at MSU)"

5. Below your Student Number and Name, you will see this phrase

You may update your emergency contact information in the "Emergency Contact System." 

6. Click "Emergency Contact System" 

7. Update contact information. 

8. For domestic emergency contact, you may use your program coordinator contact information if you don't anyone in local areas. For international, make sure to include your immediate family member or close friend that should be contacted in the case of emergency. 

OISS Check-in

After your arrival, you should complete the government check-in process at OISS (Office of International Students and Scholars), located in Room 105 at the International Center. Make sure to bring your DS2019 and passport. To expedite this process, you should update your domestic and international addresses, as well as emergency contact information at  prior to OISS check-in. If this government check-in is not completed within 28 days of the program start date written on your DS 2019 form, the SEVIS record will indicate "No Show" and you will not be in valid visa status.

You also attend OISS J-1 Scholar Orientation, which take place every Thursday at 10 am in Room 105, International Center. When you check-in, the reception staff at OISS will schedule you for the J-1 Scholar Orientation. 

Obtaining MSU Student ID

After OISS check-in, you go to the MSU ID Office to get your MSU student ID. There are lots of benefits this card will give to you. 

Read our blog post to find out what MSU ID can do for you! 


Paying Program Fees

Within three weeks of your arrival you are expected to pay your program fees and here is the detailed instruction how to pay fees online. For detailed instructions on how to pay online using CashNet, click here.

Mandatory TB Awareness Course on D2L

To protect students' health and safety, MSU requires all newly entering international students to view a TB e-learning module and complete a quiz at The TB e-learning module and quiz will be loaded as a course entitled Tuberculosis (TB) Awareness. You should login to your D2L account and complete the short "course." It’s required for all international students. Failing to do so will result in a hold on your student account and you will not be able to register until the hold is lifted.

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist: latent TB infection (LTBI) and TB disease. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal. 

Michigan Driver's License

All Michigan residents must obtain a driver’s license as soon as possible after arrival in order to legally drive. Below information is copied from Office of International Students and Scholars at MSU. For details, visit their website http://

It is also required by Michigan law that all drivers have no-fault insurance on their vehicle. Every owner of a car must buy certain basic coverages in order to get license plates. It is against the law to drive or let your car be driven without no-fault insurance. If you have an auto accident, no-fault insurance pays for your medical expenses, wage loss benefits, replacement services, and the damage you do to other people’s property. It does not matter who caused the accident. 


International students and scholars who will be in Michigan for a semester or more are considered Michigan residents and are therefore eligible to apply for a Michigan Driver’s License or Identification Card. All Michigan residents must obtain a driver’s license as soon as possible after arrival in order to legally drive. There is no grace period during which you may use your home country license to drive.

Short-term visitors who will be in Michigan for less than one semester are not considered to be Michigan residents and are therefore not eligible for a Michigan Driver’s License or Identification Card. However, you are eligible to drive in Michigan with your home country’s driver’s license and a certified English translation as long as your country appears on the “International Drivers’ Licenses and Reciprocity Update” (PDF)* list. The International Driving Permit by itself does not grant permission to drive in Michigan; however the combination of the home country’s driver’s license and the International Driving Permit does indeed grant permission to drive in Michigan for your short-term visit.

Driver’s License Application Process 

Step 1: Present your identification at the Secretary of State Branch Office.

Step 2: Take tests on written knowledge, road signs, and vision.

Step 3: Take driving skills test.

Step 4: Return to the branch office to finalize your license application.

License Translation 

If you already have a driver’s license from your home country, an English translation can make the Michigan licensing process 30 days faster.

STEP 1: Find a translator. You cannot do your own translation. Your translator must be someone who is a graduate student or a faculty member at MSU who can speak your language.

STEP 2: Your translator must type the translation into the following PDF template: documents/students/dltranslation.pdf

STEP 3: Your translator must print the translation and sign it in the lower left corner.

STEP 4: You bring the translation to OISS. OISS will verify your status and your translator's position at MSU, then sign the translation in the lower right corner.

Social Security Number (SSN)

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique, 9-digit identification number, issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and qualified foreign nationals-including those in F and J status who meet the requirements.

Read this document to check if you are eligible for SSN. ssn_letter_j1_student.pdf

Traveling Outside the US and Visa

Do you have a plan to travel outside US during your stay? You must get your DS-2019 endorsed by OISS prior to trip. 

Bring your I-20/DS-2019 to OISS for travel signature. Travel signatures take 24 hours, so plan ahead. Once you obtain the signature, it is valid for 6 months. 

1, You need a valid visa stamp in passport. Check the expiration date. If expired, you must renew at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. (Please note, if you have been outside of the United States for 5 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 US.)

2. Valid Passport: Passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the intended date of entry into the U.S. If your passport is valid for less than 6 months, then we recommend that you renew your passport or run the risk of being denied entry into the U.S.

3. Beginning April 30th, 2013 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) no longer provides paper I-94 cards at the Port of Entry (except in limited circumstances).

4. Important! As a J-1 visa holder, you have one month-long grace period to reside in the US after your program end date. However, if you travel outside US during this grace period you cannot re-enter the U.S. after the travel.  

Health Insurance Waiver

If you decided not to choose MSU student health insurance and purchase an alternative health insurance policy, you should apply for an insurance waiver in order to remove health insurance charges on your student account. In order to get waiver, 

1. You must prove that your alternative policy meets the MSU minimum health insurance waiver criteria. For 2017-2018, 

  • A minimum of $500,000 per condition without time limitation
  • A deductible of $500 or less per individual
  • Coverage for inpatient and outpatient medical services (Including labs and x-rays)
  • Coverage for inpatient and outpatient mental health services
  • Coverage for prescriptions with at least a minimum of $500,000
  • A maximum out of pocket limit of $2000 per individual and $4000 per family
  • Worldwide coverage
  • At least $50,000 for medical evacuation to the international student’s home country
  • At least $25,000 for repatriation (removal of remains after death) to the international student's home country

2. Please log in your STUINFO account with your NetID and password. Click on "Insurance Waiver" under the "Other" tab on the upper right corner. Complete the insurance waiver questions and send the following two documents to MSU Human Resources:

  1. A copy of your insurance policy (written in English) with the schedule of benefits
  2. Enrollment proof (show your full name, enrollment start date and end date)

Where to send the documents?

It generally takes 2 weeks to review your application. You will receive the result by email. If your tuition bill is due before the application is processed, pay your bill first and get a refund later (if approved). Paying first avoids the accumulation of late fees.


Please contact MSU’s Human Resources Solutions Center:

  • Website:
  • Email: SolutionsCenter(at)
  • Phone number:  517-353-4434
  • Address: 1407 S Harrison Rd, East Lansing MI 48823
  • HR Offices are open Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
    Closed weekends and University Holidays.

Safety and Security

We take your and your family's safety and security seriously. We encourage you to sign up for MSU Alert in order to receive quick and easy notification in the event of an emergency at campus. Sign up at 

Campus Bus Systems

CATA’s Spartan Services operates 24/7 in the Fall and Spring semesters with service to all university apartments, residence halls, commuter parking lots, and main campus buildings. CATA bus passes can be purchased in the following locations in the table below as well as online at Bus pass pricing is $6.00 for a 10-ride pass, $18.00 for a 31-day pass (unlimited rides for 31 days), and $50.00 for an semester pass (unlimited rides for a semester). Bus stops and routes are shown on the image below.


Community Resources

Lending Center

We understand that many international visitors are only at VIPP and MSU for a few months or a year. It makes sense, sometimes, to borrow or buy secondhand household stuff like a small desk, a lamp, some cooking pans, etc. 

The Lending Center makes is easy to acquire these items for your stay. The CVIP International Student Lending Center is based in Spartan Village and loans household items in good condition to MSU international students and scholars. Borrowing items, instead of purchasing new items, cuts back on waste.

The CVIP International Student Lending Center is based in Spartan Village and loans household items in good condition to MSU international students and scholars. Borrowing items, instead of purchasing new items, cuts back on waste.

We also encourage you to donate anything you may not want to take back home by the end of your program in MSU to places such as the Lending Center so future participants can benefit, too.

Surplus Store and Secondhand Stores

Shopping at the MSU Surplus store is one way to find affordable items. Some items are sold new ("surplus" items offered at a discount) while other items are secondhand. The store is open two days a week, Tuesdays and Fridays.

Another way to acquire secondhand (used) items is to shop at places like the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Purchases at these stores support charitable efforts.

The nearest Salvation Army thrift store is at 2655 E. Grand River Ave in Meridian Township. It is open Monday-Saturday.

There are several Goodwill sites in Lansing. Visit the Goodwill website to find a location near you.

Notice of Departure

When you are ready to leave MSU and your program is close to be finished, you must complete a Departure Form for OISS. OISS is required to report your program end date to the federal government. This could be the end date on your DS-2019 or it could be a prior date if you complete your program early. 

If you have J-2 dependents, and if you and your dependents will be departing separately, you must also submit a J-2 Notice of Departure form. Failure to submit the form prior to your departure may create difficulties when applying for future U.S. visas. 

Important Information from OISS

OISS (Office for International Students and Scholars) provides support to Michigan State University’s international students, scholars and families. Their services include advising on compliance with U.S. immigration regulations and conducting orientations and other programming that help international students and scholars adjust to the academic, cultural and social life of MSU. Following documents illustrate the important immigration information, regulations and compliance that VIPP participants should know.    

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