Spring 2021 Student Reminders and Check-In Procedures

in Featured
January 13th, 2021

Be sure to read our spring 2021 Enrollment Considerations as you finalize your course registration for spring. In addition, please review the reminders below, as they contain important for new student check-in procedures, enrollment requirements and information about F-1 regulatory flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic. Boston University is required to confirm your enrollment to the Department of Homeland Security through the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) at the start of each semester. Please be advised that we have changed how we will gather and report your enrollment during this time.

If you are traveling to campus at any time during the spring semester and have questions about COVID testing and quarantine requirements, we encourage you to review the Back2BU website, as it contains important information about student life during COVID.

Initial Check-in ISSO

All international students traveling to the US for the first time and F-1 students returning to campus after a leave of absence will be required to complete Initial ISSO check-in remotely in the StudentLink to upload copies of your immigration documents and notify us of your arrival in the US. You should only complete Initial ISSO check-in after you have entered the US. Students beginning a new program of study should have received separate email messages with additional details about Initial ISSO check-in.

Spring 2021 Semester Verification Suspended for Continuing Students

Continued student check-in (generally referred to as Semester Verification) will not be required in Spring 2021. Rather than asking students in check in in-person at the beginning for the semester, the ISSO will be relying on your academic registration data to update your SEVIS record, since many students will not be physically returning to campus this semester. SEVP COVID Guidance will allow BU to continue keep SEVIS records active for continuing students enrolled full-time, even if they study remotely. If you have questions about how your academic registration will affect your SEVIS record, please refer to our spring 2021 Enrollment Considerations.

Update your address in the StudentLink

It is critical that you understand the different addresses on the Student Link and keep each address updated correctly. Local address is used by the university to know your location while the Foreign-Immigration and the US-immigration address are reported to the US Department of Homeland Security through SEVIS. You must keep your immigration-related addresses in the student link up to date throughout the semester.

  • Local address:
    • Will automatically reflect your BU housing address if you reside in BU housing
    • Should reflect your most recent US address if you are in the US
    • Should reflect a general placeholder address of 881 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215 if you are outside the US
  • Foreign-Immigration address: must reflect your address in your home country
  • US-Immigration address:
    • Should reflect your current US address if you are in the US. If you are living on campus, this address will automatically reflect your BU housing address.
    • If you are a continuing student and you plan to study remotely from outside the US, please leave your most recent US address in this section – do not delete this address.
    • If this is your first semester you are a new student and you plan to study remotely from outside the US, you should leave this address blank until you arrive in the US.

    LfA Status Indicator

    The LfA Status Indicator was designed for university offices to know where you are living and understand how you plan to participate in classes so they can assign you to the appropriate COVID testing schedule.  It is essential that you keep your LfA Status Indicator in the StudentLink updated throughout the semester.  If you are returning to Boston, it is recommended that you update your LfA Status Indicator approximately 24  hours before you arrive for the spring semester.  You must update your LfA Status Indicator as your situation changes throughout the semester, regardless of whether you will study on campus or remotely.  Please be advised that your LfA Status Indicator will not be used for SEVIS record keeping or immigration compliance purposes.


    Remember that you must be enrolled full-time and making normal academic progress in your degree. For most students, full-time is 12 credits. Some graduate student programs may have different full-time equivalents, but you must be certified as a full-time student to maintain your immigration status. The number of remote courses that continuing students can take has been relaxed temporarily due to COVID-19 as long as you are enrolled full-time and making progress in your degree program. If it is your last semester and you need less than 12 credits to graduate, you should request a Reduced Courseload from ISSO prior to the start of the semester.  If you have questions about how your academic registration will affect your SEVIS record, please refer to our spring 2021 Enrollment Considerations.

    May Graduates

    If you plan to graduate in May 2021 and plan to apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), please note that you must be inside of the United States prior to May 16, 2021 in order to apply for OPT. This is a requirement of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), and they have not provided any flexibility to allow students to apply for OPT from outside of the United States despite the travel challenges related to COVID-19.

    It is also important to note that you will have a 60-day grace period after your program completion date of May 16, 2021 during which you can:

    • Apply for OPT provided you are inside the US prior to the May graduation date
    • Request that ISSO transfer your SEVIS record to a new school
    • Obtain a new I-20 reflecting your plans to study in a new degree level at BU
    • Depart the United States.

    An extension of this grace period due to COVID-19 has not been provided, so we encourage you to keep this in mind as you are planning your next steps. Please note, if you are outside of the US, you do not have a grace period and should not plan to travel into the US after your program completion (graduation) date.

    On-Campus Employment

    Immigration regulations allow international students to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during the regular semester. During spring 2021, some on-campus jobs may be approved to be performed remotely by students who are within the United States, and some will require that you be available in-person on campus. You can read more about being hired to work on-campus on the ISSO website. If you have not worked on-campus before, you will need to complete an I-9 Employment Eligibility form before you begin work. If you do not have a Social Security Number, you will need to apply for one after you secure a job. Social Security Offices are currently closed to walk-in traffic due to COVID-19, but you can review details of how you can apply for an SSN on our COVID-19 FAQs page.

    Travel Concerns

    ISSO acknowledges that travel has become very complicated by COVID-19. If you are considering international travel, we strongly recommend that you review our Current Travel Advisory and be aware that travel restrictions are subject to change at any time. US Embassies/Consulates closed for routine visa processing in mid-March and began a phased-in reopening in mid-July in many locations. COVID spikes during the Fall/Winter caused appointments in some locations to be canceled or delayed with little advanced notice. If your F-1 visa stamp has expired, you should expect substantial delays in applying for a new visa. If you are considering international travel, we suggest that you contact your ISSO advisor before finalizing your travel plans.

    ISSO continues to work remotely, and we remain available to support you. You can visit our Menu of Remote Services to learn how to contact us. You can also contact your ISSO advisor if you have specific questions. Given an increased volume of inquiries, it may take your advisor a few days to respond so we appreciate your patience!