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Visa

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Most VIPP participants will be on a J-1 non-degree visa, and GPRP scholars will be on a J-1 scholar visa. The J-1 visa affords many privileges. Please read the information below to review important eligibility requirements for VIPP to process your visa, and to maintain eligibility.

Visa Requirements & Information

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.

How to Obtain a US 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 (https://www.usembassy.gov/) 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!

Traveling Outside of the US with Visa

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

Bring your I-20/DS-2019 to OISS for a 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 your 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 the US during this grace period you cannot re-enter the U.S. after the travel.  

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 and ends less than 30 days prior to the end of the fall semester. 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.