Getting Started

We’re delighted you are considering Boston University for your academic activity. This is your starting point for detailed immigration-related guidelines, resources, and information.

Joining BU’s Community

Whether you’re interested in study, research, teaching, or a staff position at BU, we’re here to help guide you. For details related to the admissions or enrollment process for international students, or how to establish a BU affiliation as an international scholar, please visit Joining the BU Community.

Applying for a Visa

As international students and scholars at BU, you must apply for the most appropriate visa that will enable you to enter the U.S. to commence or resume your academic activities. The length of the visa will vary depending on your country of citizenship and your visa classification. The visa must always be valid when entering the U.S. but may expire after you have entered the U.S.

For more information regarding applying for a visa, visit Applying for a Visa.

Important Documents & Procedures

Once admitted as a student or scholar at BU, ISSO will help you determine your status and keep track of appropriate documents and procedures. As an international student or scholar, keeping on top of these procedures is integral to maintaining your status in the U.S.

For more information on documents and procedures, visit Documents & Procedures.

Initial Check-In with ISSO

New students and scholars must check in with the ISSO to ensure all relevant documents and procedures have been processed or have been completed. Check-in provides  the ISSO the opportunity to review your immigration documents, help you get settled on campus, and provide answers to your questions as you begin your activities at BU.

To avoid jeopardizing your immigration status in the US, complete your initial check-in at ISSO.


Orientation is an important part of starting your time at BU and is required for both international students and J-1 BU sponsored international scholars. Orientation offers both students and scholars the opportunity to learn how best to successfully transition to the U.S. and the BU community. These mandatory sessions feature an introduction to ISSO services and include vital visa and immigration information, as well as important tips on cultural adjustment, the American classroom, and health.

For more information on orientation, visit Orientation.

Medical Care & Health Insurance

Health care in the U.S. may be quite different from that of your home country. Medical treatment in the Boston area is very good, but American health care can be expensive—there is no socialized or national health care system in the U.S. Health insurance is necessary to help defray those high costs.

In addition, federal and state regulations have insurance mandates that you will need to be aware of and comply with during your stay in the U.S., including requirements specific to students in Massachusetts, residents of Massachusetts, and J-1 exchange visitors.

For more information regarding health insurance and medical care, visit Medical Care, Immunization & Health Insurance.

BU Resources & International Student Organizations

Student organizations can be a great way to keep up with a favorite activity, find a new one, and make friends within BU’s community. Many organizations are active in the University and local communities, and organize numerous events, lectures, and cultural performances throughout the year. All student-run organizations at BU are maintained through Student Activities.

For more information regarding student organizations and resources, visit On-Campus Resources.

Living in Boston

The capital of Massachusetts and the largest city in New England, Boston has a population of about five million. This includes a student population of 250,000 representing more than 50 colleges and universities. Students here hail from all areas of the United States and around the world. At BU alone we have international students from over 130 countries.

We’re here to help make your transition to Boston easier and more enjoyable.
For more information on daily life in Boston and resources to help you get settled in visit: Living in Boston