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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Current Students

F-1 & J-1
F-1 students: Individuals in the United States engaging in a full course of academic study in an accredited educational program that has been designated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must maintain full-time enrollment as defined by Oakland University, ISSO; part-time study only with approval of International Student Advisor/ Designated School Official (DSO) in accordance with regulations.

J-1 exchange student program: Administered by the U.S. Department of State, this program is intended to encourage temporary educational, collaborative and cultural exchanges in the hope of increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Exchange programs provide exchange students an opportunity to experience our way of life and encourage Americans to participate in educational and cultural programs in other countries.

The exchange visitor program is designed for temporary educational and cultural exchanges and collaboration rather than for degree-seeking purposes. At the conclusion of their program, participants are expected to return to their home countries to utilize the educational experience and skills they have acquired while in the United States.

What to expect
  1. You must pay tuition at the non-resident rate. To learn how to pay tuition, click here.
  2. You must have health insurance that meets the nine Oakland University requirements.
  3. You must be registered full-time in F-1 and J-1 student status (Full-time = 12 undergraduate or eight graduate credits).
  4. You must attend the next New International Student Orientation Program.
  5. To become registered in the USCIS SEVIS database, you must meet with an ISSO adviser immediately when you receive your stamped immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019) and your I-94 card.

Remaining in the USA

If you intend to remain in the U.S. for more than 60 days (F-1 students) or 30 days (J-1 students) after completing your program, you should prepare and submit proper paperwork during the grace period to change to another visa status in order to maintain lawful immigration status in the U.S. 

F-1 students may stay in the U.S. in between transfer if the SEVIS record transfer procedures are correctly followed. If the period between programs is longer than five months, your new school must issue a new initial I-20 with a new SEVIS number. You must leave the U.S. within your 60-day grace period and re-enter no earlier than 30 days before your new program start date.

If you are planning to travel outside th U.S,, make sure you have these things in order to re-enter the United States. Consult the International Student Advisors for further information.
  • A valid passport.
    • We recommend one that is valid 6 months into the future.
  • A valid F-1 or J-1 visa.
    • If you are traveling to Canada or Mexico or an adjacent island which includes Saint Pierre, Miquelon, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territories or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea for 30 days or less, a valid American visa is not required for most countries. This is called Automatic Revalidation of an expired visa. However, you may be required to obtain a visa from any of these countries; check with their embassies for details.
    • If you are traveling to a country other than Canada or Mexico, but do not have a valid American visa, you must obtain a new one. To do this, you must get a new I-20 from the ISSO and supply financial documentation to verify sufficient funds. NOTE: Make sure that your visa will not expire before or during your trip. If you have been outside the United States for five 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 U.S.
    • If you are a citizen of Iran, Syria, Sudan, North Korea or Cuba, you are not eligible for Automatic Revalidation.
    • It is your responsibility to determine if the country you plan to visit requires a valid visa for you to enter.
  • Your I-94 card (white card in your passport for Canadian citizens travelling to the USA by car or card that you have to print upon arrival to the USA here).
    • Remember to turn in your I-94 card as you depart the U.S. unless you are travelling to Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island. In that case, make sure you do not give this up upon your departure when leaving the U.S.
  • A valid I-20 (F-1 students) DS-2019 (J-1 students) with a travel signature (page three on I-20) and revalidation signature (on the right side on DS-2019) dated less than six months from your planned date of re-entry to the U.S. from a Designated School Officer/Responsible Officer (Petra or Dave at the ISSO). 
  • Evidence of adequate finances.
    • Only if you are obtaining a new visa.
  • A copy of your current course schedule.
    • You can print this through SAIL.
A student who entered the country on some other immigration status (such as H, L or B) and subsequently received F or J student status from the USCIS, should consult the ISSO before departing the United States, even to Canada or Mexico. Since such a student does not have an F or J visa stamp issued by a U.S. consulate, the student will need to petition for a student visa stamp at a U.S. consulate outside the United States to re-enter on the student status. A change of status is valid only as long as the student is within the United States and abides by the requirements of the student status. It does not allow re-entry without appropriate visa category.

For students under NSEERS Special Registration, please remember to leave enough time for your exit interview at your last port of departure.

Travel on OPT or OPT STEM (F-1 students)

Same applies as above plus:
  • Valid OPT card.
  • Employment offer letter.
  • Updated I-20 signature with the employer’s information listed on page 3.
ISSO does not recommend traveling outside of North America and applying for a new visa when on OPT.

  • Any time you leave the U.S., there is no guarantee you will be allowed to return.
  • If you have applied for an extension of stay or change of status, these procedures must be completed before traveling outside the U.S.
Change your
major/educ. level
Follow these steps to change your major:
  1. Make an appointment with ISSO to update your I-20 or DS-2019. Ensure that you’re eligible to change majors.
  2. Make an appointment with an academic adviser for your desired new major. 
  3. Make an appointment with your international adviser to get a new I-20 or DS-2019.
  4. For students changing educational level from PhD to Master's Degree within the same discipline, please plan a head, you must meet with an academic adviser, as well as Graduate Study one semester prior to the semester you want the change to take place. Also remember, you MUST be a full time student in your first semester in a new degree program, this means you would be required to take at least 8 credits in the first semester you have changed to Master's from PhD
The International Students and Scholars Office provides students the resources for a well-rounded education at Oakland University, including academic and social experiences. ISSO coordinates and administers programs that serve international students, faculty and visitors to the Oakland community. Our staff is aware of the demands associated with studying in another country and the special needs of international students.
  • Immigration counseling (students and scholars)
  • SEVIS I-20 issuance for undergraduate, graduate, doctoral students and dependents
  • SEVIS DS-2019 issuance for J-1 Exchange Visitor students, scholars, faculty and dependents
  • Employment seminars (CPT, OPT, and STEM OPT)
  • J-1 Employment Authorization Requests
  • Assistance requesting a change of immigration status
  • F-1 and J-1 extensions of stay
  • Cross-cultural activities
  • Reinstatement of status
  • Exception requests
  • Health insurance
  • Student transfers
  • Informational seminars
  • Orientation
  • Personal advising
  • ISSO Facebook
  • CAIR Program
  • International Village
  • Student advocacy
Study Abroad
for F-1/J-1 Students
Are you an F-1 or J-1 student who would like to study or do research outside of the United States? Do you want to know how to keep your F-1/J-1 visa and status in the US active while doing this research? We encourage all students to take advantage of international academic experiences. As an international student you will work with both the ISSO and the Study Abroad offices about visas and entry requirements for the destination you plan to visit.

F-1 Students

Report your study abroad or research plans to the ISSO: Get a letter of support from your academic advisor or director of graduate studies which confirms:

  • the timeframe you will be outside the US,
  • the purpose of your research,
  • that you will pursue research on a full-time basis,
  • when you are expected to return to OU,
  • what you will have remaining to do at OU upon your return,
  • your anticipated completion date.

How to keep your F-1 status active while you are away:

  • Register as a full-time student at Oakland every semester (including the semester when you are abroad)
  • Keep a local MI address and phone number at all times.
  • Get a travel signature on your I-20 before departing the US. If the signature on your I-20 will be more than a year or on your DS-2019 more than six months old by the time you reenter the US, you need to get a new signature before you travel
  • Continue to check your Oakland email while you are outside of the US. It's the only way we would contact you if there is any issue with your immigration record.

When, where and for how long can I study abroad?

  • You may study abroad any time in your academic career except for the last semester prior to your graduation
  • Please schedule an appointment with the international adviser and study abroad adviser to discuss visa regulations and restrictions according to your status

What to do when you want to return to the US:

  • Contact the ISSO at at least two months prior to your return to let us know you’re coming back.
  • Present your immigration documents to the ISSO for review upon your return 
  • Check your F-1 entry visa to see if it will be valid when you plan to return to the US. If your visa will expire before your return, you must renew your visa.  You need to get a new visa from a US consulate or embassy outside of the US. You can’t apply for a new visa inside the US.

Learn about the documents you need to compile for your new visa application at  For information regarding visa renewal, please visit the U.S. Embassy website for a list of U.S. embassies around the globe. You may also want to read the Department of State information on visa denials, and tips on how to apply for a visa. Review information on how to make a visa appointment, and to check on visa wait times in the city you plan to apply. If you have applied for a visa and your application has been delayed as the results of a security advisory opinion please contact the ISSO office at

What documents are needed? 

  1. Passport
    An unexpired passport valid at least six months into the future. 

  2. I-20 or DS-2019
    A valid I-20 or DS-2019, which has been signed for travel.  If the signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 will be more than a year old by the time you reenter the US, you need to get a new signature from an International Adviser before you travel. For students on OPT the travel signature is only valid for six months. And remember, the US government determines your eligibility to enter the US. Make sure to have all needed travel documents with you.  We also recommend having an extra copy of your travel documents.   

  3. Proof of Financial Support
    Proof of financial support as reflected on the I-20 or DS-2019. This may include personal or family bank statements, an affidavit of support (UG Students) or affidavit of support (Grad students), or copies of your fellowship or scholarship letter. 

  4. Enrollment Verification
    Proof of full-time enrollment at Oakland University, you may bring with you an official transcript, also ISSO can generate official full time letter

  5. SEVIS Fee Receipt
    Proof that you have paid the SEVIS fee. Get your SEVIS fee receipt

If you want to work immediately upon returning to the US:

You need to be physically present in the US if you want to apply for any F-1 or J-1 off-campus work authorization. Remember, it usually takes about 90 days to get your employment card. If you think that you may want to work immediately after returning to the US, talk to the international adviser prior to leaving to discuss how you can make this possible.

J-1 Students

Please schedule an appointment with the international adviser at the ISSO with your research or study abroad plans. Be sure to tell us how long you plan to be away for. We will then let you know if and how you can keep your J-1 status active while outside of the US.

Do I need a visa to get into my study abroad destination country/transit country(ies)?

Your admission into another country – including transit countries – will depend on your country of citizenship, as well as your specific country of destination. When researching your possible visa needs, remember to factor in connecting flights. Some destinations may also have requirements about the length of validity of your U.S. visa.  There are several visa service providers, like Travisa, that may be able to assist in visa requirements. Allow yourself enough time to apply for a visa for your destination abroad.  To find out if you will need a visa for the country you wish to enter, please visit Travisa and/or the appropriate consulate or embassy website for that particular country. 

What are my payment responsibilities?

Program fees may be paid differently for various types of programs. If you are participating in non-Oakland University sponsored program, you may pay some fees directly to host institutions or third party providers. All programs have some fees paid directly to Oakland University, which will be posted on your OU e-bill. Please meet with your study abroad adviser to discuss how fees are paid. What you pay directly to OU is due on the same date as your tuition and fees are due for registration for the semester in which you will study abroad. Any financial aid awarded to you will be deducted from the total charges.

Program costs vary. If you wish to withdraw from your program or are unable to obtain a travel visa for your program destination, you should be aware of the cancellation policy. 

Do I need insurance?

You are required to carry the United Healthcare Student medical insurance through Oakland while on your F and J Visa status.  This insurance will remain valid during your participation in an Oakland study abroad program.

from OU
F-1 students who have made a commitment to attend another institution must inform their ISSO advisers and request that their SEVIS records be electronically released to the new school. It is advised that you discuss travel plans and new program start dates with your adviser before settling on a SEVIS transfer release date.
  1. Fill out the top portion of the transfer-out form, sign and give it to the international office of the transferring university. They will fill out the bottom portion and fax it to us.  
  2. Submit a proof of admission to the new institution. 
  3. Schedule an appointment with an OU international adviser to make sure that we received all the documents and were able to transfer the SEVIS record. 
  4. Allow one week for processing. Please note: after the transfer-out date Oakland University will no longer have access to your SEVIS record.
  5. If you are registered for a future semester at OU do not forget to withdraw from your courses and fulfill any financial obligations with the University before you transfer to your new school or leave the U.S.
  6. Contact the new school's international admissions office to arrange when and how to receive your new I-20.