10 Tips for Successful ISSO Immigration Processing for Admissions


1. Please make certain you have updated all program start and end dates with the Office of the University Registrar.
Please keep in mind that these dates are strictly academic program dates and should not reflect orientation programs. Work with the Registrar’s Office to make sure all non-standard program dates are reflected accurately in the registration system.

  • The Registrar’s “exceptions table” controls the start dates for programs that do not follow the standard university calendar.  We recommend that admission departments with unique start dates contact the Registrar’s Office at least a semester in advance of processing to update the table for the following semester.
  • Be advised that if your program has non-standard dates, we will not be able to process any admits until the dates have been added to the Registrar’s “exceptions table”.

We have been working very closely with the Registrar’s Office to make certain that all programs can be coded in UIS, so ALL coversheets should now reflect the exact program dates.  If you find a coversheet that is not reflecting the correct information, please contact ISSO Assistant Director for Admissions and Student Support Services, Adrienne M. Gibbons at agibbons@bu.edu

2. We will require either the new version of International Student Data Form OR the online International Applicant Coversheet for all new files. 
Please make certain that your websites link to the most recent version of the International Student Data Form (ISDF). Online applicants no longer need to complete a paper version of the ISDF and can be directed to the International Student tab of the online application. Online applicants will be prompted to complete the fields and print an International Applicant Coversheet to submit with original financial documentation, copies of previous immigration documents, test scores, etc. to the Admissions Office at the point of application or after gaining admission to a program of study.  Please forward the signed International Applicant Coversheet (in place of the signed ISDF but not in place of the ISSO Admissions Coversheet) to the ISSO with all other required documentation for processing. We are no longer accepting the old 4-page version of the ISDF.

3. Required Financial Documentation and Estimate of Expenses
Please feel free to direct prospective students to the Required Financial Documentation link to assist them in compiling the most accurate documentation.

  • Please note required amounts for both the student and their dependents, if applicable in the Estimate of Expenses for both the Charles River Campus and Medical Campus
  • A sponsorship letter or Sponsorship Certification Form is required when the funding is coming from a source other than the student.  While we will continue to accept financial sponsorship letters from the sponsor (i.e. parents, company, friends, or other relatives), we suggest that they use the Sponsorship Certification Form to ensure they provide all the required information.  Please be reminded that the student should send this form directly to the graduate admissions office.

4. English Proficiency Requirement
The ISSO continues to pay close attention to documentary evidence to ensure each international admit meets the university English proficiency standards.  The ISSO will also continue to enforce the need for written explanation.

  • Keep in mind that the Internet-Based TOEFL (iBT) has each skill tested individually.  Each score should be evaluated separately when determining English proficiency.  While we recognize that many graduate programs exceed the undergraduate minimum requirements, please note the Boston University undergraduate admission minimum requirements that are approved for enrollment by the Office of the Provost.  For additional information regarding the TOEFL iBT please visit the ETS website.
  • When submitting a complete file, one of the following should be included:
    • a copy of an official TOEFL/IELTS score report, if scores do not populate on the ISSO Coversheet.  Please make certain score reports reflect “electronic/official” scores and not student reported scores. Scores reported by the student will not populate on the ISSO Coversheet.
    • a waiver letter: if the student is being waived out of the English proficiency requirement, include a detailed letter explaining why the student is being waived out.  The waiver letter should be signed by the person who makes the academic admissions decision on behalf of your school.
  • A student does not need to submit proof of English proficiency if the student obtained a degree at a U.S. institution or at an English speaking institution abroad and those details should be reflected in writing on the ISSO Coversheet.  Participation alone in an English language program, including participation at BU’s Center for English Language and Orientation Programs, CELOP) does not meet the English proficiency requirement.  Proof of English proficiency will need to be submitted.

5. The SEVIS immigration record is created directly from data in UIS. 
Therefore, it is vital that the student’s name be spelled exactly as it appears on their passport, their date of birth be correct and their City and Country of birth, Country of Permanent Residence and Country of Citizenship be accurate.  Incorrect or missing information will ultimately cause processing delays at the ISSO and could result in a visa denial.

6. ISSO will continue to communicate with admitted students already in the U.S. via email instead of regular mail.
Whether they are planning to transfer to BU, continue their studies at a different program at BU, or need assistance with their current immigration status, we will initiate all communication with them via email after their admission file has been received and reviewed at the ISSO.

7. Use the ISSO Document Tracking to check the status of ISSO immigration processing.
Please update mailing instructions accurately prior to noting that documents have been sent to ISSO. For an explanation of menu options, please visit the ISSO Document Tracking information page.

8. We estimate that the entire processing will take 10 business days from the time we receive a complete file to the day we issue an immigration document or official email.
We will continue to give priority processing to programs that begin in the summer. For a list of documents admitting departments need to submit to ISSO, please visit the Checklist of Documents Required page.

9. Plan in advance as US Consular posts are reporting processing delays again.
Students are eligible to apply for a student visa at a U.S. Consular post abroad 120 days in advance of their expected program start date.  However, some consulates estimate 12 weeks for certain security clearances. Therefore, it is important that we receive student files as soon as they are complete to ensure that the student has sufficient time to receive their visa and arrive on time to begin their studies.

10. Contact our Assistant Director for Admissions and Student Support Services with any questions or concerns.
Please encourage students to contact us at 617.353.3565 or via email at issogac@bu.edu.