International Services, Programs and Responsibilities

Applies to: All faculty and staff on the Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campuses


In carrying out their mission and assigned responsibilities, the international services offices on the three campuses promote and facilitate international education and intercultural learning at the University of Michigan (U-M) by providing information, services, and programs for:

  •  international students, scholars, staff, and faculty;
  • academic departments and support units, schools and colleges; and
  • students interested in educational opportunities abroad (study, research, internships, and volunteer service). 


These offices serve as the central administrative unit on each campus responsible for providing advice and counsel to members of the university community regarding U.S. immigration regulations; overseeing and handling all matters related to compliance with immigration regulations; determining the appropriate immigration category for international students, scholars, staff and faculty; and submitting reports and serving as liaison to government agencies concerning immigration matters including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of State (DOS), Department of Labor (DOL), and others as appropriate.

 Specifically, these offices are the official representatives of the University in the operation of DHS’s F-1 Visa Program and the DOS’s J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. Staff members in these units have been authorized to determine the appropriate student visa category for those coming to study at the University, as well as the appropriate visa category for those coming to the University to work or to participate in scholarly exchange.

 F-1 Student Visa Program

Since these offices are the University’s representatives to DHS for the F-1 visa program, a staff member in each unit serves as the PDSO (Principal Designated School Official) on his or her home campus.  The PDSO is the point of contact on any issue that relates to the school's compliance with the F-1 program regulations and is the person authorized to submit requests to DHS through SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) for the addition or deletion of DSOs (Designated School Officials.)

 J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

Similarly, since these offices are the University’s representatives to the Department of State’s J‑1 Exchange Visitor Program, a staff member in each office serves as the Responsible Officer (RO) for the J-1 program on his or her home campus.  The RO is the point of contact on any issue that relates to the school's compliance with J-1 program regulations and the person authorized to submit requests to the Department of State through SEVIS for the addition or deletion of Alternate Responsible Officers (AROs). 

Authorization to Sign Immigration Documents

Only the PDSO or a DSO is authorized to sign the F-1 immigration document (Form I-20) and only the RO or an ARO is authorized to sign the J-1 immigration document (Form DS-2019).  Other university employees are not permitted to sign these forms, or to sign any other immigration paperwork requiring a P/DSO or A/RO signature.  For more information about these authorized signatories, consult your campus’ international services office.

 Employment of Foreign Nationals1

The International Center (IC) on the Ann Arbor campus is responsible for all employment related visa applications.  This includes determining the appropriate visa category, processing all necessary applications, filing applications with government agencies, and ensuring compliance with all applicable regulations.  The IC at Ann Arbor does this work on behalf of all three campuses in order to obtain the proper employment related immigration status for faculty and staff (SPG 201.18).  When needed, the IC will seek assistance from the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) to determine the appropriate visa category for employees and visitors from abroad.


 F-1 Non-Immigrant Students:As specified in the agreement between the University and DHS (specifically SEVP, Student and Exchange Visitor Program) which authorizes the University to enroll non-immigrant students in F immigration status, the international services offices are charged with the obligation of overseeing the University’s compliance with SEVP policies and with relevant federal regulations, and of managing the recordkeeping and reporting requirements stipulated in 8 CFR 214.3.

 J-1 Exchange Visitors in student and non-student categories: As specified in the agreement between the University and DOS which designates each campus as the Program Sponsor for its J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, each international services office is charged with the obligation of overseeing the University’s compliance with DOS policies, relevant federal regulations, and DOS-mandated recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

Faculty and Staff: The IC on the Ann Arbor campus is charged with taking appropriate action, such as requesting an amendment to immigration status, if there are substantive changes in the terms and conditions of a faculty or staff member's appointment when that faculty or staff member is the beneficiary of a University petition for an employment based visa, such as the H-1B.  Therefore, the IC must be notified when such changes occur at any of the three campuses so a determination may be made regarding any required amendment.


 AInternational Students

International services staff members are charged with meeting the needs of the University’s large and diverse international student population, and ensuring compliance with all government regulations affecting non-immigrant students.  They also provide an extensive series of orientation programs and activities prior to the start of fall semester for new students that introduce them to their respective campus and community; inform them of their responsibilities related to their immigration status and to requirements concerning health insurance; and ensure their basic needs are met before classes begin.  Advising services and programs for students continue throughout their stay to help them interpret and understand U.S. culture, become involved in campus and community life, and integrate their learning with conditions in the home country.  International student advisors assist students from abroad with all non-academic questions and concerns, refer them to other offices as needed, and work with all campus units to ensure their success.

B.  International Scholars, Staff and Faculty

In addition to a large international student population, the University has a significant number of J-1 visiting scholars with and without University appointments, and international staff and faculty on various other non-immigrant (temporary) visas.  There are also some international staff and faculty members who are in the process of adjusting their non-immigrant status to permanent residency (immigrant visa).   

 The two most common non-immigrant visa categories used by these individuals include the J-1 Exchange Visitor category, and the H-1B Temporary Worker category.  It is the role of each international services office to work with academic units that invite J-1 scholars to its campus to ensure that they receive the required document (DS-2019) needed to obtain the J-1 visa abroad, enter the U.S. legally, and remain in legal status throughout their stay at the University. 

 It is the role of the IC on the Ann Arbor campus to handle all immigration related work for H-1B petitions on all three campuses.  Also, if international faculty or staff members are already present in the U.S., the IC on the Ann Arbor campus works with the hiring unit to enable the faculty or staff member to come to U-M in the appropriate non-immigrant status to be legally employed.  In these cases, IC staff members provide immigration advice and guidance to the inviting departments and to international staff and faculty; and ensure compliance with all government regulations affecting these individuals.

C.  Education Abroad

International services staff members provide information and programs for all U-M students interested in obtaining an educational experience outside of the United States.  Education abroad professional staff and peer advisors refer students to appropriate study abroad offices on-campus, and help students understand options related to studying abroad on Michigan and non-Michigan programs, interning abroad, conducting overseas research, and volunteering for service projects in other countries.  Specifically, the international services offices offer advice and programs that help students find the right opportunity abroad, fund the overseas program, internship or service project, prepare them for the overseas experience, and provide opportunities to maximize learning through integrative learning pedagogy while abroad, and upon their return to campus. 


1  Employment verification policy (e.g., Form I-9 and E-Verify) for all employees, including foreign nationals, is the responsibility of University Human Resources.
Printable PDF of SPG Section 402.0144.14 KB
Details Column 1
SPG number: 
Date issued: 
February 28, 1973
Last updated: 
March 4, 2014
Next review date: 
March 2, 2018
Applies to: 
All faculty and staff on the Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campuses
Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, University Human Resources and Vice President for Student Life
Primary contact: 
International Center on the Ann Arbor campus