Immigration and Visas

Visa Requirements

Boston University CELOP is authorized to issue I-20 Certificates of Eligibility for F-1 visa interviews.

We want to help make your arrival to the United States and maintenance of your student visa status as easy as possible. Almost all students entering the United States to study at CELOP are required to have an F-1 student visa. You cannot register for full-time study at CELOP without an appropriate visa. All students applying for an F-1 student visa will also be required to pay a separate SEVIS fee. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP):

F-1 Visa students can only arrive (into the United States)
no earlier than 30 days from the official start of their program.

The official start to any CELOP program is the first day of class. Please refer to the CBP website for more information about arrival procedures. If you have any questions about immigration or visas, please contact CELOP’s Foreign Student Advisor.


Students accepted to a CELOP program will receive an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility. The I-20 can be used to apply for an F-1 student visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country. Remember to apply for your visa early to allow for possible delays in processing. The U.S. Government provides excellent information on their website, “Study in the States.” We strongly encourage you to visit this website.

The I-20 form must be signed on the front page by the student. If the student is under the age of 18, their parent/guardian must also complete the following information on the first page of the I-20 form:

  • Name
  • Signature
  • Address (city/state or province/country)
  • The date this information was completed.

How to prepare for your F-1 student visa interview

  • Apply as soon as you know when you plan to travel.
  • Allow several weeks for planning and getting a visa appointment.
  • Practice answering questions in English about your visa application, your plans in the U.S., and your plans after you return home.
  • Be ready to prove to the consular official that you intend to return home after finishing your studies in the U.S.
  • Arrive at your appointment well prepared and with all required documentation (see below).

At the interview

  • Listen carefully to any questions the embassy official asks of you.
  • Answer ALL questions.
  • Talk about your plans to return home when you finish your studies and tell the official when you plan to return home.
  • Talk about the reasons why you want to study English in the U.S.
    • How will you use English when you get back to your country?
    • Why is it important for you to know English?
    • Do you intend to study another subject once you have finished your English program?
      • Which subject?
      • Why do you need English?
    • Talk about how experiencing American culture and interacting with many native speakers will help you to learn English more quickly.
    • Mention that some of the most advanced teaching methods and technical help in language learning can be found in the U.S.
  • Talk about your choice of English program:
    • Show that you know about CELOP and Boston University.
    • Be able to explain why you chose this program.

Documents you MUST bring to your interview:

  • Your I-20.
  • Completed DS-158 and DS-156 non-immigrant visa applications (forms available at embassy) with a photo of each person applying. Some applicants may be required to complete an additional DS-157 form.
  • Your passport which must be valid for at least 6 months longer than you plan to stay in the U.S.
  • Receipt for the visa processing fee.
  • Original financial documents proving you have enough money to cover your tuition and living expenses during your time in the U.S.
  • One photograph 2 x 2 inches (50.8 x 50.8 mm), showing full face, without head covering, against a light background as shown on the US Department of State website.
  • Receipt or online proof of SEVIS fee payment.
  • Admission letter from Boston University CELOP.
  • Documents that show you intend to return home after completing your studies in the U.S. (see below).

Examples of documents that can help prove that you plan to return to your home country

  • Family
    • Copies of official documents proving family relationships and their residences
    • Letters from physicians explaining important medical conditions of your parents
  • Visa and Immigration History
    • Current and previous passports containing entry and exit stamps from your country and other countries
    • Other official documents indicating departure and return to your home country
  • Financial
    • Official papers proving property ownership
    • Copies of investment statements or certificates
    • Letter of financial statement from your bank or accountant
  • Employment
    • Letter from current employer stating you will resume your position with them when you return
    • Letter from prospective employer stating you will be offered a position when you return
    • **The best letter is one that guarantees you a job when you return AND states the importance of your studies in the U.S. to the employer.**

What to do if the official refuses to give you a visa

  • The most frequent reason for a visa refusal is that the official thinks you may not return to your home country.
  • It is not possible to say exactly what evidence you should take to convince the official that you will go home because applicants’ circumstances vary greatly.
  • Think again about your ties to your home country: family relationships, job, home or farm ownership, other commitments.
  • Is there any additional evidence that you could present? Did you explain your situation clearly? Did you answer all the questions?
  • Consular officers have the responsibility for issuance or denial of visas. If your visa is denied, you can reapply.
  • If you decide to reapply, you should be prepared to show additional evidence or explain in a different way how your situation has changed since the first application.
  • You should try at least twice. If you are refused a second time, the probability that a third try will work is not very high.
  • Additional information is available at the Department of State website and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly known as the INS) website.

Visitors with a B-1/B-2 visa may take a class that is considered short-term and recreational in nature. For example, one English language class or a sports or music class.

Therefore, visitors with a B1/B-2 visa can take only part-time English classes at CELOP. You cannot continue at CELOP after that course is finished unless you have an F-1 status visa.

If you are already in the United States on a B-1 or B-2 visa, you will have to apply for a change of status before you can study full time at CELOP. This can be a long process and you may be required to return to your home country to get your F-1 student visa. Please contact the Foreign Student Advisor to schedule an appointment to discuss your immigration status.

If you are currently in the United States on a different visa (NOT F-1 or B1/B2) and you want to study at CELOP, please contact the Foreign Student Advisor.

Can I study at CELOP while in the United States with a tourist (B-1 or B-2) visa?

You cannot study in any of our full-time programs with a tourist (B-1 or B-2) visa. New immigration regulations require anyone studying in a full-time program to have an F-1 student visa. If you are already in Boston and wish to study at CELOP on a part-time basis, you are not required to have a certain type of visa.

Is it necessary for me to have an F-1 student visa to study at CELOP?

In most cases, yes. If you are entering the United States for the purpose of studying full time at CELOP, you are required to obtain an F-1 student visa. If you are already in the U.S., and you have some type of visa other than the F-1 (such as an F-2 or J-1 or J-2 visa), you should contact CELOP directly about your individual situation. If you are already in Boston and wish to study at CELOP on a part-time basis only, you are not required to have a certain type of visa.

How long will it take for me to get my F-1 student visa?

After you successfully complete your application, we will notify you about your acceptance. CELOP will then send you an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility. We do our best to mail your I-20 as soon as possible but processing times vary throughout the year.

You may then use your I-20 to apply for your F-1 student visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country. Some CELOP applicants experience delays in the processing of their F-1 student visas. Please apply early to avoid any delays.

Check our “When to Apply” page for the latest information about processing I-20’s and visa wait times.

Can I bring a dependent?

Dependent status is generally available only to family members that fall under these categories:

  • A federally recognized spouse
  • A child under the age of 21

If you wish to have a dependent arrive with you to the US, please complete the required dependent information on our online application before you submit the application. If you request to include a dependent after you receive your SEVIS record/I-20, please note it may take up to 1 week or more to issue the new dependent I-20.

For more questions about bringing a dependent, please contact the Foreign Student Advisor.

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