Changing to a New Program at BU
We are pleased that you have selected to begin a new academic program at Boston University. The ISSO has prepared the following important information to guide your plans as you complete your current program and transition to a new program of study. Please note that in order to be eligible for a change of level, you must have maintained valid status throughout your F-1 program, you must begin your new program within 5 months from your previous program completion, and you must have an “active” F-1 SEVIS record. Please see the immigration processing steps below:
- You must submit all required documents to your new academic department to complete your international student application.
- Once your records are complete and you have been admitted to your new program, the academic department will forward a request for immigration processing to the ISSO.
- The ISSO will notify you of additional documentation required.
- The ISSO will issue the Form I-20 for the new program of study after all documentation has been received and you have completed your first program of study.
- You must complete new student check-in at the ISSO at the beginning of your new program.
The Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) only allows for one active F-1 student immigration record at a time. Therefore, we must wait until the completion of your current program before we can issue the I-20 for your new program. Once your record is complete at the ISSO you should expect your new I-20 to be issued within 10 business days of the completion of your previous program, or within 10 days of receiving your completed admissions file, whichever is later.
It is important that you submit all required documents and pay attention to instructions below as your new I-20 must be issued within 60 days from the completion date of your current academic program or OPT. If you are unable to receive the new I-20 within your grace period, you may be required to travel home and apply for a new F-1 visa to commence your new program of study.
The staff of the ISSO is pleased to provide you with information, advice and assistance on any visa or immigration matter that relates to your activities at Boston University. Please review the sections below information pertaining to your specific situation.
Current CELOP students moving to a degree program at Boston University
The Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) only allows for one active F-1 student immigration record at a time. Therefore, we must wait until the completion of your CELOP program in order to create your new I-20. You should expect the ISSO to issue your new I-20 within 10 business days of the completion of your CELOP program, or within 10 days of receiving your complete admission records from your academic department, whichever is later.
Current students moving to a new program at Boston University
Students must notify ISSO of the end of their current program and request a new I-20 by completing and submitting the Certification of Program Completion Form. This form should be completed and returned to the ISSO as quickly as possible via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are graduating from Boston University and immediately beginning a new academic program, F-1 immigration regulations require that you receive your new Form I-20 within 60 days from the completion of your current program. If you are unable to receive the new I-20 within 60 days, then you may be required to travel home and apply for a new F-1 visa to commence your new program of study.
It is important to understand that once your new Form I-20 has been issued, you forfeit your eligibility to apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) at your current level. If you are considering applying for post-completion OPT or have any questions regarding how a change of program will impact your OPT eligibility, you should confer with your ISSO advisor and indicate your plans on the “Certification of Program Completion Form”.
Can I Work On Campus In Between Programs?
Students moving from one program to another at Boston University may continue or begin new on-campus employment in between academic programs after you complete the following steps:
- Receive your new Form I-20
- Complete the new International Student check-in process
Students can generally complete new student check-in between programs on a walk-in basis at the ISSO after they receive their new I-20 but reservations during peak check-in times will be required at the beginning of each new semester. Detailed information about international student check-in times and reservations will be sent to you via email as the start date of your new program approaches
- Complete an electronic Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification
As soon as you have been hired in an on-campus position, you must complete section 1 of the electronic Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form before to coming to the ISSO so that we may complete section 2 as required. You will find more information regarding this requirement and on-campus employment at the Student Employment Office. You may have an I-9 from on-campus employment during your previous program. However, you must update your I-9 to continue your On-campus employment.
Will I have the same SEVIS Number?
Your SEVIS record number will remain the same for your new academic program at Boston University, provided that you have maintained your F-1 status and have met all immigration deadlines. The SEVIS number is an 11-digit number that begins with “N00”. The SEVIS number is posted on the top left-hand corner of your I-20, and on the lower left-hand side of the F-1 visa, above the school name.
Travel Outside of the US Between Programs
You are eligible to remain the in the US in between academic programs at Boston University. However, if you choose to depart the US, you must present your new I-20, a valid F-1 visa, and a valid passport in order to re-enter the US in F-1 status.
Do I need to get a new F-1 visa?
You may have a valid F-1 visa in your passport, if that F-1 visa has not yet expired, it will remain valid for your new program. If the F-1 visa in your passport has expired (or if you do not yet have an F-1 visa in your passport), you will need to obtain a new F-1 visa in order to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status. (Individuals travelling with Canadian passports do not need to obtain F-1 visas in their passports, however, they must travel with their valid Canadian passport and Boston University I-20.)
If you do not plan to depart the US you do not need to obtain a new F-1 visa. Please understand that the F-1 visa in your passport is a travel document. Individuals who continue to maintain valid F-1 status may remain in the U.S. even if the F-1 visa has expired. You will only need a valid F-1 visa if you depart the US to re-enter in F-1 status.
If you plan to travel prior to beginning your new degree program please refer to the Travel & Visas section for more information on important immigration-related topics.
BU students currently on a period of OPT who will begin a new degree program at BU
Your Optional Practical Training employment authorization will automatically cease once a new I-20 is created for your new degree program. Therefore, it is important that you complete and submit the “Certification of Program Completion Form” to notify ISSO your last day of employment Please keep in mind that you will be required to end your employment under OPT once classes begin as you are not eligible to begin a new program of study during OPT If you any questions about choosing an appropriate employment end date, please confer with your employer and/or the ISSO Staff. It is very important that you have submitted all of the required employment documentation and that you have reviewed your current number of unemployment days with your ISSO advisor to be sure you are eligible to continue to your new program with your current SEVIS record.
It is important that you submit all required documents and pay attention to all instructions as your new I-20 must be issued within 60 days from the completion date of your OPT. If you are unable to receive the new I-20 within your grace period, you may be required to travel home and apply for a new F-1 visa to commence your new program of study. You should expect your new Form I-20 to be issued within 10 business days of the employment end date indicated on the “Certification of Program Completion Form” We will notify you when the Form I-20 has been issued.
Can I stay in the US after I complete my program or OPT?
Students moving from one program to another at Boston University may remain in the US between the end of their academic program or Optional Practical Training (OPT) if their new academic program will begin within 5 months.
If you graduate in January, you may wish to return home until the beginning of your academic program in September. If you return home, you may be issued a new I-20 with a new SEVIS number, you will need to pay a new SEVIS fee, and you will only be eligible to enter the US a maximum of 30 days prior to the start of your new academic program.
If you are a January graduate, you may be eligible to apply for and participate in OPT for the months of February to August. Students who are participating in OPT are not eligible to begin a new degree program while on OPT and must maintain status under F-1 OPT.
If your OPT ends more than 5 months before your new academic program, you may choose to return home or enroll in classes in an earlier semester.
It is very important that you let the ISSO (email@example.com) know of your plans by submitting the complete Certification of Program Completion Form as quickly and accurately as possible. Please submit all required documents and pay attention to all instructions as your new I-20 must be issued within 60 days from the completion date of your current academic program. If you are unable to receive the new I-20 within your grace period, you may be required to travel home and apply for a new F-1 visa to commence your new program of study.
Required International Student Check-in
Since you are beginning a new program of study at Boston University, you must complete new international student check-in at the ISSO. Detailed information about international student check-in reservations and deadlines will be sent to you via email as the start date of your new program approaches.