Obtaining Your Visa
You will need to obtain a U.S. visa before making travel plans to attend Michigan Law, and this page contains information and details about visa requirements and the application process. We recognize that it can be daunting to navigate the U.S. visa application process, and so we are glad to offer assistance. Please do not hesitate to contact the Graduate Admissions Office if you have questions at any point.
Visa Resources from the U.S. Government
Student Process Steps: How to Navigate the U.S. Immigration System
U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee
U.S. Visa Interview Wait Times
Step 1: Choose a Visa
All full-time, degree-seeking international students are eligible for an F-1 visa, and most international students at Michigan Law enter the United States on an F-1 visa. However, it is typical for a few Michigan Law students to enter the United States on a J-1 visa instead.
Some students are eligible for both an F-1 and J-1 visa and may be able to decide which visa is a better fit. If you are eligible for both an F-1 and J-1 visa, then we recommend checking whether your sponsor has a requirement or preference for the type of visa you obtain.
If family members are accompanying you to the United States, then this may be a factor in choosing a visa.
Only the spouse and unmarried minor children (under age 21) of a primary visa holder may receive “dependent” visa status. Their eligibility to stay in the United States legally is contingent on the primary visa holder maintaining their legal status.
- If you enter the United States on an F-1 visa, your dependents will have F-2 status.
- If you enter the United States on a J-1 visa, your dependents will have J-2 status.
F-2 dependents are not permitted to enroll as full-time students at the postsecondary level, but they are allowed to study full-time in avocational or recreational studies (e.g., hobbies).
An F-2 dependent cannot accept employment in the United States, but they are allowed to do volunteer work as long as there is no compensation of any kind and the F-2 dependent is doing work usually done by volunteers.
There are no regulatory restrictions on academic study for J-2 dependents, and a J-2 dependent is eligible to apply for permission to work from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Step 2: Obtain a Certificate of Eligibility
To comply with federal regulations, all international students who intend to enroll at Michigan Law are required to have a “Certificate of Eligibility” to apply for a U.S. visa.
For F-1 Visas
The Certificate of Eligibility is an I-20 form, which is issued by the University of Michigan.
For J-1 Visas
The Certificate of Eligibility is a DS-2019 form, which is issued by the University of Michigan or another sponsor.
DS-2019 External Funding Requirement
A DS-2019 form for a J-1 visa can be issued only to a student receiving at least 50 percent of their total financial support from a source other than personal or family funds (i.e., the majority of the financial support is in the form of a scholarship, fellowship, or external funding source). It is not an option for self- or family-funded students.
Steps to Obtain a Certificate of Eligibility
In April, the Graduate Admissions Office will email you about the documentation you will need to submit to receive a Certificate of Eligibility. The required documentation includes an “Affidavit of Financial Support” to confirm that you have adequate financial resources for the cost of attendance for your academic program.
After you submit the required documentation to the Graduate Admissions Office, we will work with the University's International Center to issue your Certificate of Eligibility so that you can apply for a visa.
Required Documents to Obtain a Certificate of Eligibility
- Completed Affidavit of Financial Support
- Supporting financial documentation (e.g., bank statements, scholarship or fellowship letters, loan documents)
- Copy of the biographic page of your passport (i.e., the page showing your name, date and place of birth, passport number)
- Please note that your passport should be valid until at least 6 months beyond the end of your academic program.
- If you have dependents accompanying you to the U.S., a completed family data sheet and copies of the biographic page of each dependent’s passport
- If you are currently in the U.S., copies of your U.S. visa and entry documents (e.g., I-20, DS-2019, I-797 approval notice, latest I-94, visa stamp).
- To facilitate planning and processing, please notify the Graduate Admissions Office as promptly as possible if you will need to change your current visa status or if you are currently enrolled as a student at another educational institution in the U.S.
Please email your documentation to email@example.com.
Completing Your Affidavit of Financial Support
Before the University can issue you a Certificate of Eligibility for your visa application, you must submit an “Affidavit of Financial Support” to demonstrate that you have sufficient funding to cover the cost of attendance. You also must certify adequate financial resources for any dependents who will accompany you to the United States.
Each April, the Law School's Office of Financial Aid provides estimated standard costs for the upcoming academic year. This information is necessary to complete your Affidavit of Financial Support. Once Financial Aid releases this new estimate, the Admissions Office will email you to ask you to complete your Affidavit of Financial Support.
MACL and CACL Estimated Budgets*
*Please note that these budgets are for the current academic year. Although these estimates can give you a good idea of what to expect for the upcoming academic year, the estimated student budget usually increases 3 to 5 percent every year.
Expected Employment Income
Part-time employment on campus is scarce, in considerable demand, and discouraged for first-year JD and graduate law students due to the demands of their studies.
Opportunities for off-campus employment are generally restricted.
Accordingly, you should not indicate employment during the academic year as an expected source of funding.
Step 3: Complete Visa Application and Interview
Once you receive your Certificate of Eligibility, you will need to take several steps to apply for a visa. The order in which you complete these steps may vary depending on the U.S. embassy or consulate, and so it is important to follow the specific embassy or consulate’s instructions.
Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee.
Complete the online nonimmigrant visa application (form DS-160).
Schedule a visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
Pay the visa issuance fee (if applicable).
Please bring your passport, proof of your I-901 SEVIS fee payment, form DS-160 confirmation, Certificate of Eligibility, Affidavit of Financial Support (along with the supporting funding documentation), and any other documents required by the embassy or consulate to your visa interview.
During your interview, the consular officer may ask about the purpose of your stay in the U.S.; your intent to depart the U.S. after you complete your academic program; and your plan to finance your educational, living, and travel costs. If your academic program lasts for more than one year, you are advised to be prepared in case an officer asks about your financing for any subsequent years of study.
If your visa is approved, please note that the embassy or consulate will likely take your passport to process your visa. The embassy or consulate will inform you about the typical processing timeline and the options to collect your passport.
Entering and Exiting the United States Once You Have a Visa
F-1 and J-1 visa holders are not permitted to enter the United States more than 30 days before the start date of their academic program.
- F-1 visa holders must depart the United States within 60 days 0f the program end date.
- J-1 visa holders must leave the United States within 30 days of completing the program.
Entry and Exit Guidance from the U.S. Government
Full-time Enrollment Requirement
All students with F-1 and J-1 status are required to be enrolled full-time in their academic program. Full-time enrollment at the Law School is a minimum of 10 credits per term.
If a student is unable to meet the full-time enrollment requirement, they must request permission in advance from an International Student and Scholar Advisor at the University's International Center to reduce their course load. Only an International Student and Scholar Advisor can authorize a student to drop below full-time enrollment, and this permission must be in writing. Authorization for a reduced course load will be granted only if it complies with rules by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), such as for a medical condition (including mental health) or certain academic reasons.
Students who drop below full-time enrollment without prior authorization will be considered out of legal status, and the University will be required to report this to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Full-time enrollment rules are strictly enforced, so it is very important to check with an advisor if you are uncertain how the rules apply to your situation.