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J-1 Visa Requirements

Once you are admitted to our program, you will be on J-1 non-degree student visa.To be eligible for a J-1 non-degree student visa, at least 51% of total cost of your study (including VIPP program fee, living expenses, family expenses and health insurance premium) should be supported by your sponsor - your company, government, or other external agency. Being on J-1 student visa means you are required to conduct a minimum of 18 hours of academic activities each week throughout your stay at VIPP, including the summer semester (unless you're pre-approved in advance. For summer vacation eligibility, please the section below.) If you don't comply with this regulation, your J-1 visa may be revoked. 

Normally, VIPP students take 3 semester-long VIPP classes (A total of 9 credits) each semester. The remaining 9 hours of the required 18 hours can be used for independent study (reading, writing, researching at library, etc.) and other academic activities such as attending campus lectures, seminars, conferences, workshops, etc. VIPP informs participants of various academic events going on at MSU and also provides our own additional academic events such as signature lectures, field trips, and brown bag seminars. It is important you record your academic activities via weekly time log. 

Once you are accepted to our program, more detailed information about the weekly time log will be provided by your program coordinator. 

Summer Semester  

If you’d like to take a summer semester off (May-August), please consult with your VIPP program coordinator about your eligibility during the application process. Your program plan has to be approved in advance. 

To be eligible for summer vacation, you have to meet two requirements.

1) A summer semester should be the participant’s middle semester of the one-year program, not the first or final semester. For example, if your programs begin in January and end in June, you are not eligible for summer time off because the summer semester is your end semester.

2) Also, summer vacation is only allowed if participant’s program start date on the DS2019 form starts within 30 days into the spring semester (1/16/2018 – 4/27/2018) and ends less than 30 days prior to the end of the fall semester (9/5/2018 – 12/7/2018). For example, summer vacation is not allowed if your starting date is on or after February 19 this year or your ending date is on or before November 9. When you apply for the VIPP program, our coordinators will explain whether you’re eligible for summer vacation and discuss specific academic plans with you.

How to obtain a U.S. Visa

Once your application is fully approved by VIPP, OISS and Export Control at MSU, we will send you our invitation letter and DS-2019, the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status to apply for a J visa (exchange visitor visa). DS-2019 itself is not a U.S. visa nor does it guarantee your entry to U.S. All foreign citizens who wish to travel to the United States must obtain a U.S. visa. You must check the U.S. embassy or consulate website in your home country ( to find out all necessary documents to apply for a non-immigrant J visa for temporary stay. 

There are several steps to apply for a visa. To obtain a J visa, you must fill out DC-160 form, pay the visa fee, schedule your visa appointment, and pass the visa interview. It is your responsibility to check the process and prepare all documents needed. You also must have a valid passport from your home country when you apply for a U.S. visa.  

Obtaining a visa does not guarantee an automatic entry to the U.S. When you arrive in the U.S., officers from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the airport will interview you to check the purpose of your visit. It is always a good idea to prepare our invitation letter and your return flight ticket back to your country. 

After you pass the interview and pick up your luggage, your journey to the American way of life and learning is now officially off to a good start.  

Welcome to Michigan!