MSU College of Law

International Students

The following is a brief summary of policies for international students attending Michigan State University College of Law. We encourage international students to contact MSU Law's International Student Advisor (Andrew Moore), the Office of Student Affairs and the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) for updated MSU and MSU Law policies and clarifications.

  1. Office for International Students & Scholars (OISS)

    Office for International Students and Scholars
    Michigan State University
    International Center
    427 N. Shaw Lane, Room 105
    East Lansing, MI 48824
    Phone: 517-353-1720
    Fax: 517-355-4657

    General Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8:00 am - 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm (closed 12 -1pm)
    Walk-in Hours*: Monday through Friday, 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

    *Walk-in hours are generally reserved for individuals who have short 15-minute questions. No appointment is needed for walk-ins. If you want to meet with an advisor for a longer time, we suggest that you call and make an appointment.

    The OISS website provides comprehensive information on the issues that international students, scholars and their families commonly encounter. We invite you to visit the OISS website frequently for updates on government regulations and for information on programs or events designed to support MSU's international community.

    MSU is an international university and has a long tradition of welcoming international students and scholars from all parts of the world. OISS is the designated office on campus to provide special assistance, advising and programming for the members of MSU's international community. It is our privilege to serve you. The OISS staff is familiar with the challenges of living in a culture outside your own and are prepared to assist you during the period of your stay on campus.

  2. Tips for Maintaining F-1 and J-1 Status

    1. Full-time Enrollment: Maintain full-time status for Fall and Spring. At the Law College, this means enrolling in a minimum of thirteen (13) credits each semester. International students may take the summer semester off and still remain in the country.
    2. Keep your passport valid.
    3. Your 1-20 must reflect changes in name or funding
  3. Underenrollment

    The Law College has stipulated that a minimum of thirteen (13) credits is required to be considered full-time for JD International students on F-1 visas. If enrollment for an International student having an F-1 status falls below his/her College's minimum credit requirement for full-time status, the student must obtain authorization from the Associate Dean for Student Affairs for a one-time exemption. Reasons for underenrollment could include the following:

    1. Initial difficulty with reading requirements (used in first year of study)
    2. Initial difficulty with English language (used in first year of study)
    3. Unfamiliar with American teaching methods (used in first year of study)
    4. Improper course placement (appropriate any time during course of study)

    A student can also be approved for a waiver above and beyond the one-time waiver for the following reasons:

    1. Last semester exemption (student must graduate this semester)
    2. Medical condition that prevents full-time study (This reason has a two semester limit.)

    Once authorization for underenrollment has been granted, the reason for the underenrollment is placed in the SEVIS system.

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not automatically take any steps to change the status of a student merely because the student is underenrolled, or because of the reason why a student is underenrolled, with one exception.

    If the DHS has not been notified that the student is enrolled in the subsequent semester after underenrollment has occurred, the F-1 status is subject to termination by the DHS. This is also the case for any F-1 status student who is not enrolled in a subsequent semester.

    Again, it is not the reason for the underenrollment that places a student's F-1 status in jeopardy. It is the failure to enroll in the subsequent semester that places the F-1 status in jeopardy.

    Given the discretion that is allowed educational institutions, the reason for a student's underenrollment may not fall "neatly" into one of the above categories. So the student's file should be documented to provide the rationale for granting underenrollment approval.

  4. Employment Options

    1. On-campus employment: To qualify you must be enrolled full-time and in status. Under ABA rules, you can only be employed for up to twenty (20) hours per week.
    2. Off-campus employment: Needs OISS and/or U.S. Citizens & Immigration Services (USCIS) approval. Under ABA rules, you can only be employed for up to twenty (20) hours per week.
    3. F-1 students: May apply for off-campus employment through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) after completing one full academic year, and upon the approval of the Assistant/Associate Dean for Student Affairs, under the following conditions:

    The CPT is:

    1. Required (all students in this major must do an internship or them will not graduate from the program); or
    2. An integral part of the student's curriculum and it is recommended that the student do the internship to complement their academic program; or
    3. Is required to complete a thesis or dissertation.

      According to OISS, the burden is placed on the International student to establish that the CPT will satisfy one of above categories.

      This is accomplished by the student working with his/her professor to describe how the CPT will complement what is being taught in a particular course.

      That course must be taken in the summer that the proposed CPT will be completed, or the semester immediately preceding or following the summer that the proposed CPT will be completed.

      Once the course has been identified and an acceptable rationale has been provided, the International student's Advisor (Academic/Graduate/Major Professor) will review the information and grant approval, if appropriate.

    4. J-1 students: Need OISS or Sponsor approval. Some J-1 visa holders are subject to sponsor rules and/or the 2-year home residency requirements that may limit some options.

    Additional CPT Information:

    The CPT has to be recommended and approved by the Law College. OISS can authorize as long as the Associate Dean for Student Affairs approves the CPT.

    With most law students, the CPT is done part time or full time for the summer and related to a course they are taking. Typically, CPTs for the law school do not last more than the summer semester. The CPT has to be part of law-related course work and it must be performed before the completion of studies. Before completing your studies you can apply for OPT, for employment authorization once your degree is completed.

    Full time CPT for less than 11.5 months does not interfere with your ability to apply for OPT at the end of your studies.

  5. Traveling

    Before traveling, I-20 or DS-2019 documents should have current signature by a Designated School Official. Visit the OISS website for all procedures. The Law College Designated School Official is the Assistant/Associate Dean for Student Engagement.

  6. General Tips

    1. You are responsible for maintaining your immigration and academic status.
    2. Report any change of address or residence and/or any name change to the Registrar's Office (309) within five (5) days of the change.
    3. Keep copies of all of your immigration documents and retain old documents.
  7. Your Last Semester

    F-1 students can apply for one year of non-renewable employment, Optional Practical Training (OPT). Students do not need to have a job offer

Revised September 30, 2016