On January 25, 2021, President Biden signed Presidential Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Non-Immigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease extending COVID-related restrictions on travel from all countries covered under previous Proclamations (mainland China, Iran, Brazil, 26 Schengen countries, Ireland and the United Kingdom) and restricted travel from South Africa on January 30, 2021.
On March 2, 2021, the Secretary of State revised criteria for national interest exceptions (NIE) from these COVID-related travel restrictions for certain travelers seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure. Students traveling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F-1 visas visa will continue to be automatically considered for an NIE to travel and do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel.
Other types of academics, J-1 students, and journalists who already have a valid visa in the appropriate class, or an ESTA authorization, should contact the nearest US Embassy to request individual consideration for a NIE.
All other nonimmigrant travelers who wish to visit the United States to offer vital support to critical infrastructure sectors, or for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security should contact the nearest US Embassy to request both a new visa and an individual NIE if they believe they qualify for an exception.
On July 22, 2020, the Department of State updated its website to clarify that F-1 nonimmigrants traveling from the 26 Schengen countries, Ireland and the United Kingdom would automatically qualify for a national interest exemption (NIE) from these travel restrictions. All other nonimmigrant travelers must request approval for an individual NIE from a US consular post on a case-by-case basis.
In addition, the university has updated the Policy for Individuals Returning or Arriving from Abroad that requires anyone returning from or arriving from a CDC level 2 or level 3 country. Since the CDC has elevated travel to all countries worldwide to a level 2, this policy requires anyone returning to campus from outside of the U.S. from all countries (including Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean Islands) to self-quarantine for 14 days before reporting to campus.
Please be advised that this situation is very fluid and travel bans due to the coronavirus may change at any time. Therefore, we urge you to carefully consider any plans to leave the U.S. during the Spring semester as country travel restrictions are changing daily. If you choose to travel, please refer to our Current Travel Advisory for details regarding documents required for re-entry to the US.
All nonimmigrant travel from mainland China, Iran, Brazil and Europe has been suspended for the 14 days preceding entry to the US since the COVID pandemic spread in 2020. More countries may be added to the list without advance warning. See country specific details below.
Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease suspends entry effective 12:01am on January 30, 2021 of aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present in South Africa during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry to the United States.
Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus suspends entry effective 11:59pm May 26, 2020 into the U.S. of aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present in Brazil during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry to the United States.
Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus suspends entry effective 11:59pm March 16, 2020 into the U.S. of aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the United Kingdom and Ireland during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry to the United States.
Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus suspends entry effective 11:59pm March 13, 2020 into the U.S. of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the following 26 Schengen Area countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. The 26 Schengen area countries include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. The United Kingdom is not included at this time.
Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus suspends entry into the U.S. effective February 2, 2020 of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the People’s Republic of China, excluding the Special Autonomous Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.
Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus suspended entry into the U.S. effective March 2, 2020 of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present in Iran, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.
Proclamations clarify that the coronavirus travel bans do not apply to any U.S. citizens nor alien who is:
- a lawful permanent resident of the United States
- a spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
- a parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21;
- a sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
- a child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
- an alien traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
- C (transit) or D (air or sea crewmember) nonimmigrants
- seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to an A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 visa;
- an alien whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the CDC Director, or his designee;
- an alien whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee; or
- an alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.
The ISSO is pleased to announce our spring workshop schedule on topics including on-campus employment, applying for Optional Practical Training, and Interviewing in the U.S.
For complete workshop dates, locations and session descriptions, see our calendar. Additional dates may be added during the semester.
All workshops will be offered virtually via Zoom. Please register using the link for an individual workshop. Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with instructions for how to access the session.
Featured Workshops with visiting attorneys:
Immigration Considerations for Life after F-1
Prasant Desai - Iandoli Desai & Cronin P.C
- Are you interested in staying in the United States to work after your F-1 Optional Practical Training ends?
- Are you considering applying to begin a US Lawful Permanent Resident?
- Session will highlight post-F-1 visa options for those interested in living and working in the United States.
Thursday, February 25th, 5:30 pm [Register here]
Immigration Considerations for Entrepreneurs and Self-Employment
Elizabeth Goss - Goss Associates
- Are you interested in starting a company or working for a start-up?
- What entrepreneur activities require employer authorization?
- Session will highlight nonimmigrant visas options to support these activities
Tuesday, March 23rd, 5:30 pm [Register here]
New for 2021!
U.S. Tax Filing: Information webinars with Sprintax
Join Sprintax representatives for an information webinar covering the following information:
- An overview of tax for nonresident students and scholars
- Who must file a 2020 US tax return
- What income forms students/scholars may receive
- Forms that need to be completed and sent to the IRS
- We cover terms like FICA, ITIN and Form 1098-T
- What happens if students don’t file, or misfile
- State tax returns
- IRS stimulus payments
- Sprintax overview
Location: Webinar (only register for one session)
Friday, March 5th, 9:00 am [Register here]
Wednesday, March 31st, 6:00 pm [Register here]
Tuesday, April 27th, 11:00 am [Register here]
Workshops in collaboration with the BU Center for Career Development:
Interviewing in the USA: A Career Workshop
Join staff from the ISSO and the Center for Career Development (CCD) for a program designed to help international students understand the job search process in the U.S. Sharpen your interviewing techniques by bringing your strengths as an international student to the table. This workshop will help you familiarize yourself with the intricacies of the U.S. interview process while learning how to best assess your skills and international experience to answer "difficult" interview questions.
Tuesday, February 23rd, 8:00 am [Register with the CCD here]
Thursday, March 4th, 4:00 pm [Register with the CCD here]
Global Job and Internship Search for International Students
Learn how to find internships and/or full-time jobs both internationally and in the US. We will start with the mechanics of preparing for the search including knowing yourself and your targeted audience. We will review resources for searching both here and abroad and various strategies to enhance your search process including social media. This session will be presented by CCD staff.
Tuesday, February 2nd, 8:00 am [Register with the CCD here]
US resume versus International CV for International Students
Learn the difference between a resume and a CV in the US and begin to convert your international CV to a US resume format. This session will be presented by CCD staff.
Wednesday, January 27th, 5:00 pm [Register with the CCD here]
Networking for International Students
Leverage your connections in the US and at home to enhance your global job or internship search. This session will be presented by CCD staff.
Tuesday, February 16th, 8:00 am [Register with the CCD here]
Internship Search for International Students
The Center for Career Development and the International Students and Scholars Office invite you to join us to learn how to prepare and search for internships specifically for international students. This workshop will include information about OPT and CPT eligibility and other concerns.
Tuesday, February 11th, 4:00 pm [Register with the CCD here]
ISSO general immigration workshops:
Summer Internships: CPT and pre-OPT
It’s not too early to begin planning for a summer internship. This workshop covers F-1 student employment authorization options for off-campus work and internships including: Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Pre-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), Employment through designated International Organizations
Friday, February 19th, 10:00 am [Register here]
F-1 OPT: Application Basics
This workshop covers topics for students preparing to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), including eligibility factors and timing of application, considerations for travel and employment, and tips for preparing and mailing the OPT application.
Friday, February 5th, 9:00 am [Register here]
Thursday, February 11th, 6:00 pm [Register here]
Tuesday, March 2nd, 9:00 am [Register here]
Monday, March 15th, 5:00 pm [Register here]
Friday, April 2nd, 9:00 am [Register here]
Thursday, April 22nd, 4:30 pm [Register here]
Wednesday, May 12th, 4:00 pm [Register here]
Friday, June 4th, 9:00 am [Register here]
All workshops will be virtual via Zoom
F-1 OPT: Application Q&A Sessions
ISSO has made our OPT Basics workshop available on-demand! These Q&A sessions are for students who would prefer to watch the OPT Basics workshop on their own, and then ask ISSO Advisors the questions that they still have after watching the workshop. Q&A sessions will not have a formal presentation, so you MUST watch the on-demand workshop prior to attending. When you watch the workshop, please note questions that you have and bring those with you to one of our Q&A sessions!
Thursday, February 18th, 4:00 pm [Register here]
Tuesday, April 6th, 4:00 pm [Register here]
All workshops will be virtual via Zoom
F-1 STEM OPT: Application Basics
This workshop is designed for students who have already submitted an application for Optional Practical Training (OPT) and who may already be working on OPT. Covers advanced OPT topics including an overview of STEM OPT, allowing OPT extensions for certain Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. After this workshop, students should be prepared to apply for the STEM OPT extension.
Friday, March 5th, 4:00 pm [Register here]
Tuesday, April 27th, 9:00 am [Register here]
All workshops will be virtual via Zoom
F-1 STEM OPT Extension: Application Q&A Sessions
ISSO has made our STEM OPT Extension workshop available on-demand! These Q&A sessions are for students who would prefer to watch the STEM OPT workshop on their own, and then ask ISSO Advisors the questions that they still have after watching the workshop. Q&A sessions will not have a formal presentation, so you MUST watch the on-demand workshop prior to attending. When you watch the workshop, please note questions that you have and bring those with you to one of our Q&A sessions!
Thursday, March 25th, 8:30 am [Register here]
All workshops will be virtual via Zoom
J-1 Academic Training: Application Basics
This workshop is intended for Boston University-sponsored Exchange Visitors who wish to apply for employment or training permission either during or at the end of their academic program. The workshop will cover the application process for J-1 Academic Training (AT), including establishing eligibility and suitable training opportunities.
Thursday, March 18th, 2:00 pm [Register here]
On January 20, 2021, the White House issued a memorandum freezing all regulations that have no yet gone into effect for at least 60 days for the purposes of reviewing any questions or fact, law and policy the rules may raise.
On January 14, 2021, the DOL published a final rule to raise the minimum prevailing wages for employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant petitions. This is a slightly new version of the rule initially published on October 8, 2020 which was subsequently set aside by the court on December 1, 2021, is scheduled to go into effect on March 15, 2021. The final rule contains lower calculations than initially published in the previous version and outlines a plan to phase the higher wages in over the next 18-months.
There is widespread anticipation that this rule will be extended by the new Biden Administration and that there will be new legal challenges to this rule so it implementation is uncertain. The ISSO will continue to monitor the situation and update the community as more details are available.
On December 1, 2020, the US District Court struck down the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Labor (DOL) interim final rules. The DOL rule, effective October 8, 2020, modified the calculations to raise the minimum prevailing wages for employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant petitions while the DHS rule, slated to go into effect on December 7, 2020, increased the regulatory requirements for qualification in the H-1B specialty workers and sought to implement other restrictions to the H-1B program.
The litigation was filed in the Northern District of California lawsuit, Chamber of Commerce v. DHS, in which BU joined other academic and research institutions in filing an amicus brief last month. The order grants the plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment and sets aside both the DOL and DHS interim final rules, thus blocking both rules from being enforced or implemented. The basis for the Court’s order is that both DOL and DHS “failed to show there was good cause to dispense with the rational and thoughtful discourse that is provide by the APA’s notice and comment requirements.” The Court also noted that, given that the DHS rule was under consideration as early as 2017, the Government could not claim that the COVID-19 pandemic was sufficient to document ‘good cause’ due to their delay in issuing the final rules after the start of the pandemic.
This is a vital first step to mitigate the harmful nature of these rules as it delays implementation but there will need to be further regulatory rulemaking required to officially nullify the rules moving forward. DOL has announced that they will update their systems to revert back to the wages prior to rule change in the next few days. The ISSO will continue to work with individual hiring departments to strategize H-1 sponsorship for eligible BU positions.
See more details about both rules below:
On October 8, 2020, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the US Department of Labor (DOL) published interim final rules today that:
- modify the calculations to raise minimum prevailing wages for employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant petitions
- increase the regulatory requirements for the H-1 specialty worker category
- clarify "employer-employee relationship"
- restrict third party placement
- implement other program restrictions
Each rule has varying effective dates and comment periods but both rules have been published as interim final and will be effective on the dates outlined in each the rule. It is expected that there will be numerous court challenges to both given they did not follow standard federal rule making process. However, departments seeking to initiate new or extended H-1 sponsorship should expect processing delays and potential increased eligibility and wage requirements.
Interim final rule effective December 7, 2020 with concurrent 60-day comment period for the rule portion and 30 days for the forms portion.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending certain regulations governing the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program by:
- revising the regulatory definition of and standards for a "specialty occupation" to better align with the statutory definition of the term
- adding definitions for "worksite" and "third-party worksite"
- revising the definition of "United States employer”
- clarifying how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will determine whether there is an "employer-employee relationship" between the petitioner and the beneficiary
- requiring corroborating evidence of work in a specialty occupation
- limiting the validity period for third-party placement petitions to a maximum of 1 year
- providing a written explanation when the petition is approved with an earlier validity period end date than requested
- amending the general itinerary provision to clarify it does not apply to H-1B petitions
- codifying USCIS' H-1B site visit authority including the potential consequences of refusing a site visit
DHS has explained that these changes are intended to realize program efficiencies and better ensure that each H-1B nonimmigrant will be working for a qualified employer in a job that meets the statutory definition of a "specialty occupation." DHS asserts these changes are necessary to strengthen the integrity of the H-1B program during the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency to more effectively ensure that the employment of H-1B workers will not have an adverse impact on the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
Interim final rule effective October 8, 2020 with concurrent 30-day comment period
The Department of Labor is amending Employment and Training Administration (ETA) regulations governing the prevailing wages for foreign workers on a temporary basis through H-1B, H-1B1, or E-3 nonimmigrant visas and, on a permanent basis, through employment-based immigrant visas. DOL is amending regulations governing permanent labor certifications and Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) to incorporate changes to the computation of wage levels under the Department's four-tiered wage structure based on the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) wage survey administered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). DOL asserts that these changes will update the computation of prevailing wage levels under the existing four-tier wage structure to better reflect the actual wages earned by U.S. workers and to allow them to more effectively ensure that the employment of immigrant and nonimmigrant workers do not adversely affect the wages and job opportunities of U.S. workers.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published proposed regulation 85 FR 60526 that seeks to eliminate “Duration of Status” or D/S for F international students, J exchange visitors and F-2 and J-2 dependent family members. This a proposed regulation that makes extensive changes to how long students and scholars could be granted admission to the United States in the future. The proposed rule indicates that individuals in F-1, F-2, J-1 and J-2 status would be granted a specific expiration date of their status instead of D/S which would require them to submit a form, application fee and supporting documents to USCIS to apply for extensions if they need additional time to complete an academic program, begin a new program of study or, in order to apply for post-completion employment authorization like OPT or STEM OPT.
A number of offices at the University are reading the proposed regulations to evaluate how this will impact our community. Boston University intends to comment and participate in efforts to mitigate this proposed rule change. It is important to keep in mind that this is still in the federal proposed rulemaking process and will not result in any immediate changes for our international students and scholars. The public has 30 days (until October 26, 2020) to comment on these proposed changes. The rule will follow normal APA public notice and comment procedures. After the comment period ends, the government is required to review all comments submitted and address any substantial comments. Based on comments, they are likely to make some changes to the regulation before publishing it in a final format. Sometimes changes to the final version of a regulation are small, and sometimes they are quite substantial. It is difficult to predict if, or when, the government might complete this process and publish new regulations in a final format.
If you are interested in commenting on the proposed regulation, NAFSA's summary provides detailed instructions on how to submit a comment. The President's Alliance and NAFSA have jointly published a talking points document for this proposed regulation, and NAFSA has created a tip sheet for writing a successful comment letter that interested parties may find useful.
On Tuesday, October 20, ISSO offered an information and Q&A session on the proposed regulation to eliminate Duration of Status. You can view the recording of the information session below.
Please see instructions below for Fall 2020 check-in procedures and information about regulatory flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic for F-1 students. 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. Please read this information carefully and contact the ISSO team should you have any questions.
Initial Check-in ISSO
All students beginning a new program of study on campus and students returning to campus from a leave of absence will be required to complete Initial ISSO check-in remotely through new functions on the Student Link. You should only complete Initial ISSO check-in after you have entered the US in F-1 student status and, only if you are beginning a new program. New students will receive separate emails message with detailed instructions for check-in.
Fall 2020 Semester Verification Suspended for Continuing Students
Continued student check-in (generally referred to as Semester Verification) will not be required in Fall 2020. SEVP COVID Guidance will allow BU to keep SEVIS records open for continuing full-time students, even if they study remotely or remain outside of the United States. The ISSO will be relying on the data that you enter in the new LfA Status indicator on the Student Link and your academic registration data to update your SEVIS record instead of Semester Verification since many students will not be returning to campus this semester. Therefore, it is essential that you keep your LfA Status indicator and your addresses in the student link up to date throughout the fall semester.
- Local address should reflect your US address if you are in the US, or should be left blank for the fall semester if you are studying remotely from outside the US. If you are living on campus, this address will automatically reflect your BU housing address.
- Foreign-Immigration address should 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 plan to study remotely from outside the US for the fall, please leave your most recent US address in this section – do not delete this address.
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 plan to graduate in January 2021 and plan to apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), please note that you must be inside of the United States 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 January 25, 2021 during which you can apply for OPT, request that ISSO transfer your SEVIS record to a new school or change your record to a new degree level at BU, or 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.
Immigration regulations allow international students to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during the regular semester. During Fall 2020, 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.
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. 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!
On July 24, 2020, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) published additional FAQs designed to give schools and students more detail about how regulatory and record-keeping flexibility would be extended to F-1 students for the Fall semester in light of the ongoing COVID emergency.
Please click here to read more.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agreed in federal court to rescind plans to change temporary F-1 rules for the fall semester and to extend the interim COVID guidance published by the Student Exchange Visitor Information Program (SEVP) in the spring to the fall semester. This guidance will allow schools and students continued regulatory and SEVIS record-keeping flexibility for the fall semester. The ISSO will continue to update resources on the ISSO website. Please continue to review details of the FAQs and travel considerations during COVID for continuing students and for new students on the ISSO menu of services during COVID.
SEVP Distributes Preliminary Guidance for Fall Enrollment
On July 6, 2020, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) distributed a summary of potential guidance regarding continuing accommodations for F-1 students for the fall 2020 semester. This updated guidance appears to continue to allow students to take more online courses than normally allowed by regulation, provided that students continue to take courses in person. Specifically, this preview of guidance supports the hybrid mode of instruction outlined on the Back2BU portal, so this is good news for new F-1 students planning on joining BU and those returning to campus for the Fall.
However, this summary raises serious questions as it does not provide the same level of flexibility afforded to schools and students in spring and summer. It implies that schools may not be able to maintain active SEVIS records for continuing students who choose to enroll in only remote or fully online courses. International students have the ability to enroll in online instruction from their home country, but BU may not be able to keep their SEVIS records open during this time. We are waiting on the publication of the Temporary Final Rule and updated FAQs from SEVP which should offer more specific details and we are actively seeking clarification. We continue to advocate for maximum SEVIS record-keeping flexibility in the best interest of our students.
We will continue to encourage students to travel and return to campus for the fall semester, if possible, given COVID-related travel restrictions. We know students have specific questions as to how this new guidance impacts their fall enrollment decisions, and we appreciate your patience as we seek clarification from SEVP. As more details are known, we will continue to update the ISSO website and we will also update students via e-mail. All international students should pay careful attention to e-mails received from ISSO over the next few weeks, as we may need to collect important information from individual students related to their Fall plans.
We are writing to highlight a few key pieces of information that will be useful to you in maintaining your F-1 status while you are enrolled at Boston University.
- A link to the ISSO webpage on maintaining your status is here
While the webpage above contains more complete details of what we highlight below, please take note of the following key requirements while you are in F-1 status:
We are required to report certain events in SEVIS
If you change your major, change your address or drop below full-time, we must report this information in SEVIS. In some cases, like a change of major, you will receive a new I-20 from ISSO. In some cases, like an address change, we update the information but do not issue a new I-20. It is important that you make sure your “Immigration – U.S.” address in StudentLink is up-to-date at all times.
Full-time enrollment and online classes
You are required to enroll full-time each semester. For most students, this means enrolling in at least 12 credits. Graduate students who are fully funded by teaching or research assistantships may enroll in fewer credits, and some schools and colleges have slightly different enrollment requirements. It is important that you are enrolled for what is considered “full-time” for your major.
Many schools and colleges are offering more online and hybrid courses. Please note that the immigration regulations limit international students in the number of online classes that found towards full-time enrollment. This means that you may only take one class (up to 4 credits) of the 12 credit minimum in an online or hybrid format each semester.
If your I-20 lists a program completion date that is earlier than you will actually graduate, you must request a program extension from ISSO prior to your I-20 expiring! You can find details about how to apply for a program extension on the ISSO website. If a program extension is required, we strongly suggest that you apply early to avoid any problems. Extensions require up to 10 business days for processing.
State Law vs. Federal Law
It can be important for international students to understand the difference in state law versus federal law. This is especially significant since Massachusetts legalized the use of cannabis products/recreational marijuana. Anyone in the United States on a non-immigrant visa (such as a student on an F-1 visa) is subject to federal law, which considers cannabis possession and use to be a federal criminal offense. International students who possess or use cannabis products may be subject to severe consequences (for example, visa refusal or revocation). In this case, where state and federal law conflict, and international students are always subject to federal law. It may also be useful to review BU’s Policy on Alcohol & Drugs.
We know that maintaining status can be complex.
Your ISSO advisor and all of the ISSO staff are committed to helping you make the most of your experience here at BU. Do not hesitate to contact your ISSO advisor with any questions involving employment, travel and maintaining status so we can be of assistance.
The Staff of the ISSO
ISSO is now offering mini student advising appointments every Tuesday afternoon from 12pm – 4pm at the medical campus for students registered at the Goldman School of Dental Medicine (SDM), the School of Medicine (MED) and the School and Public Health (SPH). BUMC students should call the ISSO at 617.353.3565 to reserve a 15 minute mini appointment for the following basic ISSO services:
- Drop off documentation to request authorization for Curricular Practical Training
- Complete the I-9 Employment Eligibility Form to begin working on campus
- Obtain a DSO signature on documentation required to apply for a US social security number
- Request approval for a Reduced Course load in your final semester
- Obtain a DSO signature on your immigration document to travel outside of the US
- Discuss how to renew your visa
- Drop off paperwork to request a program extension
- Ask a quick question!
All mini appointments during the 2019-2010 academic year will be held in the Talbot Building Room 211E BUMC students are always welcome to visit the ISSO during normal business hours for all services as well.
Please note that these are some conversations and processing that require more time than a mini appointment will allow BUMC students will need to continue to schedule individual advisor appointments at the ISSO to apply for: