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.

Pre-Arrival Checklist



Obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20/DS-2019)

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.

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.

To obtain your Form I-20 or DS-2019, you must provide:

  • a copy of your passport
  • financial documentation
  • an affidavit of support signed by the person or agency responsible for paying for your educational, living, and other expenses.

To finalize the process, and receive your I-20/DS-2019 in the mail, register and pay for eShip Global.

* Please note: eShip Global is currently not being required for issuance of certificates of eligibility. In response to the COVID-19 health emergency, and in accordance with recent guidance from the US Department of Homeland Security, the OIA is issuing digital I-20s and DS-2019s via email. Our ability to continue issuing digital documents may change in the future. Please monitor this page for ongoing updates. 

How to submit your required documents 

  1. Obtain a copy of your passport.
  2. Obtain an official/certified dated bank letter/statement.​
    Please note:
    • All documented funds must be liquid assets
    • All documents must be in English. If not, an English translation must accompany the original
    • All supporting documentation must be dated within one year
    • Letters of sponsorship must include the exact dollar amount of support (in U.S. dollars) and dates of sponsorship
    • If funds are not in U.S. dollars, print and attach the conversion rate from
    • Funds from investment accounts are not acceptable 
    • The minimum amount that must be documented on your financial statement can be calculated from the estimated cost of attendance information included on the Financial Affidavit form
    • University of Michigan-Dearborn annual scholarship awards may be deducted from the total amount that must be reflected on your financial statement 
  3. Print and complete the Financial Affidavit form.
    Please note:
    • If a relative is supporting your education, that relative must complete the form 
    • If you have more than one sponsor, duplicate this form and provide a copy completed by each sponsor 
    • If you will receive a scholarship, a representative from the scholarship agency must complete and sign the form. Students on home country government scholarships must also attach an official sponsorship agency letter explaining the details of the scholarship, including terms and amounts of the award. Each page of the sponsor’s supporting financial documentation must include your full name as it appears on your original University application or offer letter.
  4. Send your completed passport, documentation of funds, and completed affidavit(s) to:
    University of Michigan-Dearborn 
    Office of International Affairs 
    4901 Evergreen Rd, Suite 108 
    The Union
    Dearborn, MI 48128

* Please note: During the period of remote operations, the OIA is accepting all required documentation via email: In response to the pandemic, we are temporarily suspending the requirement for original documentation in the mail. 

You must submit your documentation 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 developing, unprecedented situation caused by the COVID-19 health emergency, these deadlines may be subject to change. The OIA will endeavor to be flexible regarding deadlines, and to extend them whenever possible. Furthermore, although we are aware of US consulate and embassy closures throughout the world, the OIA is committed to providing Certificates of Eligibility to all admitted, qualified international students. 

We will notify you via email when we receive your documents. We will include your next steps, along with the timeline of processing your Form I-20 or DS 2019.

Please note:

  • Your passport and Form I-20 or DS-2019 must remain valid while you are in the United States. 
  • If you lose your form, the OIA can issue a replacement.
  • To request a dependent (spouse or children F-2, J-2) Form I-20 or DS-2019, please provide:
    • A copy of the photo page of the dependent’s passport
    • Sufficient financial documentation (see Financial Affidavit of Support)
    • Marriage certificate / children's birth certificate (in English)
Apply for an F or J Visa

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.

Please note:

  • 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.

Helpful resources

Get ready to live in Michigan

Find a place to live

Short-term accommodations

The following hotels are located in the city of Dearborn, within 5 miles of the University.


Telephone number

Extended Stay America Detroit-Dearborn ($)
260 Town Center Drive
Dearborn, MI 48126

800-EXT-STAY (398-7829)

Hawthorn Suites Dearborn/Detroit ($$)
5777 Southfield Service Drive
Detroit, MI 48228


Doubletree Hotel Detroit-Dearborn ($$$)
5801 Southfield Expressway
Detroit, MI 48228


TownePlace Suites Detroit Dearborn ($$$)
6141 Mercury Drive
Dearborn, MI 48126


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.

Long-term accommodations

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. 

Get connected with UM-Dearborn

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!

Defer or cancel your program

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 so that we can cancel your I-20.

Book tickets and get ready to be here!

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.

Office of International Affairs

Room 108
The Union at Dearborn
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