Incoming International Students: Prepare to arrive
Moving to a new country can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be! Take your time and read through these steps to prepare for your arrival in the United States. If you have questions, please contact us. The OIA is here to help you at any point along your journey. We are excited to welcome you to your campus family.
To apply for your F or J nonimmigrant visa, you will first need to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility. For F-1 visitors, the Certificate of Eligibility is the Form I-20. For J-1 visitors, the Certificate of Eligibility is the Form DS-2019.
To obtain your Form I-20 or DS-2019, you must provide:
- a copy of your passport
- financial documentation
- the Affidavit of Financial Support form
Your Certificate of Eligibility will be processed and provided by the OIA. You must receive your official admission or invitation to the University before the OIA will be able to create your Certificate of Eligibility.
Requesting your Initial I-20
Submit your request for a new I-20 by uploading all required documentation via the OIA Initial I-20 Financial Documentation eForm.
Detailed instructions, and a link to the Affidavit of Financial Support are available, on the eForm as well as in the below section, "Initial I-20: Detailed Requirements."
Please note, in order to access the Initial I-20 eForm you must have the UM-Dearborn VPN. The UM-Dearborn VPN is required to ensure protection of your private data and documentation. The VPN is available to all UM-Dearborn students, for free, via the ITS VPN page.
After you are admitted to the University, you must create your UM Uniqname. You will receive instructions to create your Uniqname following acceptance to the University. You must have a Uniqname and use your UM credentials to sign into M-International to access OIA eForms. After creating your Uniqname, please allow 24-48 hours before accessing M-International, as University systems must be allowed time to synchronize before your access will work.
Online Study From Abroad
Please note, no visa is required for online study from abroad. International students who have been admitted to an online program should not request an I-20 and the OIA will not issue an I-20 to a student who intends to study entirely online. Learn more about online study from abroad at the Online Enrollment for International Students page.
All requests to receive an initial I-20 must be received via the Initial I-20 Financial Documentation eForm. In order to access the Initial I-20 eForm you must have the UM-Dearborn VPN. The UM-Dearborn VPN is required to ensure protection of your private data and documentation. The VPN is available to all UM-Dearbron students, for free, via the ITS VPN page.
In order to obtain your initial I-20, US government regulations require you to provide the OIA with documentation of sufficient financial resources equal to the all-inclusive estimated annual cost of attendance at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Please note, the total amount you are showing here, in your financial documentation, may not necessarily be the amount that you actually spend in attending the University. Rather, it is required that you show this amount only to support your visa application.
The Initial I-20 eForm is designed to guide you through the process of satisfying this financial requirement. Through the eForm, you will be able to upload required information and documentation so that the OIA will be able to issue your initial I-20.
The estimated total amount that you must show with your financial documentation will depend on a variety of factors including whether you have dependents or whether you have been awarded a scholarship from the University.
Funds may come from a variety of acceptable sources including a personal bank account or the bank account of a sponsor (such as family member who will pay for part or all of your expenses). Bank accounts must be documented via an official bank statement or letter and must demonstrate liquid assets. Other acceptable sources include personal education loans and home-government scholarship.
Keep original financial documents to present to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy when attending your visa application appointment.
Financial documentation MUST meet the following requirements:
- Be in English
- Be dated and no more than one year old
- Clearly state the account holder’s name
- Clearly state the financial institution name
- Clearly state the balance of the account
- Clearly state the currency of the account (if not in U.S. dollars, please attach a conversion from a resource such as XE)
- Show proof of liquid funds
- These documents must be official and certified
Acceptable documents in English include:
- Official, certified bank statement
- Official, certified bank letter (on letterhead, signed, and dated)
- Scholarship award letter
- Admission letter stating financial award
- Documentation showing loan approval
Unacceptable documents include, but are not limited to:
- Tax returns
- Property, Mortgages
- Retirement accounts,
- Stocks or Bonds
- Letters of Employment/Salary Statements
- A screenshot of an online bank statement is unacceptable
How Much Money Do You Need to Show?
All students requesting an I-20 must show a minimum of $44,000 USD.
Will you be accompanied by dependents (spouse or children)? If so, the amount increases:
- Spouse’s additional living expense: $6,000
- Each additional dependent’s living expense: $2,700
- Mandatory health insurance for one dependent: $4,000
- Mandatory health insurance for multiple dependents: $8,500
Each of the financial documents you upload via the eForm must add up, together, to the total amount that you are required to show. Additional information is available on the eForm.
You must submit your required documents to the OIA by the following deadlines:
- Fall semester admission: July 15
- Winter semester admission: November 15
- Summer semester admission: April 15
* Please note: In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, these deadlines may be subject to change. The OIA will endeavor to be flexible regarding deadlines, and to extend them whenever possible.
We will notify you via email when we receive your documents.
As a citizen of a foreign country, you will need a visa to enter the United States. A visa is a permit to seek entry to a country. It is not permission to actually enter a country. A visa allows you to travel to the U.S. as far as the port of entry and ask the immigration officer to allow you to enter the country. Only the immigration officer has the authority to permit you to enter the United States.
Canadian citizens are not required to get a U.S. visa to enter the United States. However, Canadian applicants still need a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019).
How to apply for a visa
Where: Schedule an appointment with an American Embassy or Consulate. Apply for the visa in your home country, unless circumstances or travel plans make this impossible. If you apply in a third country, your application may take more time and be reviewed more critically than if you applied at home.
When: Apply as soon as possible for your visa to provide ample time for visa processing.
What to bring: When you go to the consulate, bring these required documents, including your Form I-20 or DS-2019.
How long does it take to receive a visa?
Embassies and Consulates can issue your student visa 120 days or less before the start date or registration date on your Form I-20 or DS-2019. If you apply for your visa more than 120 days before your start date, the Embassy or Consulate will hold your application until it is able to issue the visa. Consular officials use the extra time to accomplish special clearances or other processes that may be required.
- When you receive your visa at the Embassy or Consulate in your country, the consular officer will seal your immigration documents in an envelope and attach it to your passport. Do not open this envelope! The Customs and Border Protection Officer at the U.S. port-of-entry will open the envelope.
- Check to see that your visa accurately reflects your correct visa classification. If the visa states the name of the institution you will attend or identifies the exchange program in which you are participating, verify that this information is accurate as well. If your review indicates any discrepancies or potential problems, visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to obtain a new visa.
Find a place to live
The following hotels are located in the city of Dearborn, within 5 miles of the University.
Extended Stay America Detroit-Dearborn ($)
Hawthorn Suites Dearborn/Detroit ($$)
Doubletree Hotel Detroit-Dearborn ($$$)
TownePlace Suites Detroit Dearborn ($$$)
Discounts are given with proof of enrollment at UM-Dearborn. Place your reservations well in advance of your arrival, and always ask about the cancellation policy.
Telephone numbers that begin 800 are toll-free numbers. Numbers starting with 313 are local numbers.
Learn about long-term housing on and near campus.
Get health insurance
All F and J visa students must have health insurance that meets U-M requirements for yourself and any accompanying F-2 or J-2 dependents during the entire time you are enrolled.
- Learn more about Health Insurance
If you would like to defer your admission to another semester, please email your academic department and the OIA so that we can amend your admission letter and I-20.
If you have decided not to attend UM-Dearborn, please let us know by sending an email to email@example.com so that we can cancel your I-20.
Graduate students: Contact your advisor in order to register for classes.
Undergraduate students: You will need to take placement exams before you can register for classes. Typically, you will be able to complete your placement exams after your arrival on campus. Consult the placement exam schedule and registration information before you arrive.
International Student Mentorship Program
To help you prepare for life on campus, the OIA provides an International Student Mentorship Program. Current students, staff, and faculty serve as volunteer mentors. They help new international students learn about UM-Dearborn, on-campus resources, services, and events.
You will be paired with an International Ambassador ahead of your arrival. Your ambassador will connect with you via email to answer your questions and serve as a point of contact. Ambassadors and mentors are great resources for getting connected to UM-Dearborn!
When: If you are entering the U.S. for the first time as a student or visiting scholar under your nonimmigrant visa classification, you may arrive up to 30 days before your program start date.
Try to plan your arrival in Dearborn between the business hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm (Eastern time) on a weekday (Monday through Friday) when campus offices are open. Plan to make the Office of International Affairs your first stop upon your arrival.
Where: The closest airport in Michigan to UM-Dearborn is Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), often referred to as “Metro.” The airport is approximately 14 miles west of campus in Romulus, Michigan.
Bring your documents
When you travel, you should carry some specific documents on your person. Do not check them in your baggage! If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will not be able to show the documents to the Customs and Border Protection Officer and, as a result, may not be able to enter the U.S.
- Passport (including attached envelope of immigration documents) with nonimmigrant visa
- Form I-20 or DS-2019. Please note: Visa-exempt nationals presenting a Form I-20 or DS-2019 issued on or after September 1, 2004, who are entering the United States for the first time should have a Form I-797, Receipt Notice or Internet Receipt verifying SEVIS Fee payment.
- Admission documents
In addition, these items are recommended:
- Evidence of Student/Exchange Visitor status (recent tuition receipts, transcripts)
- Name and contact information for Designated School Official (DSO) or Responsible Officer (RO) at your intended school or program
- Something to write with
- Traveler's checks in U.S. dollars to cover initial expenses (i.e. housing, tuition and fees, food, etc.)
- Enough cash to cover food and taxis ($35 from the airport to Dearborn) for the first few days
- Credit card(s)
Check this list of prohibited and restricted items from the Department of Homeland Security so you know what NOT to bring.
Dress for the weather
Michigan has hot humid summers and cold snowy winters. If you are arriving in December or January, you will need a warm, waterproof, wind-proof coat to keep out the cold weather. It is a good idea to buy a coat made of wool, quilted fabric, or that is filled with down or synthetic fiber. Choose a coat that’s big enough to wear layered clothing underneath and long enough to cover your hips.
Check the local weather.