Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is an online database that allows United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to track all F-1 and J-1 students.
Maintain a valid passport at all times. Make sure to renew your passport at least six months prior to the expiration date. Your passport can be renewed within the United States at your country's consulate or embassy. Information on your country's Consulate/Embassy is available at www.embassyworld.com/
A Visa is a stamp or sticker placed in your passport at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside the U.S. A visa is only a permit to enter the United States. Once you are in the U.S. your I-20/DS2019 becomes the relevant document that helps you to maintain legal immigration status. You must make sure that your visa is valid for your entry or re-entry to the U.S. An expired visa must be renewed at a U.S. consulate/embassy outside of the U.S. prior to re-entry. Information on visa applications, related fees, and U.S. embassies is available at www.travel.state.gov/
Continuing students who plan to travel outside the U.S. and need to renew their F-1 visa must do the following:
Check with the US Embassy/Consulate in their home country for appointments, required documents and processing times.
Request ISS for a travel signature on page 3 of their I-20.
Pay applicable fees.
Make inquiries regarding visas and documents if travelling to other countries.
An I-94 is a white arrival/departure card which is given to you when you enter the U.S. The immigration officer at the port of entry must stamp this card with the date of arrival and a stamp indicating D/S which means "Duration of Status". It covers the period of time for the completion of your course of study plus any periods of authorized practical training, and a 60 day grace period to prepare for your departure from the United States. J-1 students will have a 30 day grace period to prepare to depart from the U.S. upon completion of their study program.
Your I-20/DS-2019 form expires on the date you complete your studies. This cannot be extended once you have graduated. F-1 students who have applied for Optional Practical Training, (OPT) will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) which will show the dates of validity. F-1 students are permitted to remain in the U.S. for 60 days after completing their program of study. J-1 students can remain in the U.S. for 30 days after completing their program of study.
If you lose your I-20/DS2019, or it is stolen or damaged, you must inform ISS immediately and request replacement by submitting a completed Request for New I-20/DS2019 form.
If you are unable to complete your program of study by the expiration date noted in item #5 on your I-20 form you must apply to ISS for a program extension at least 60 days prior to that expiration date. J-1 students must check #3 on the DS2019 for the expiration date and meet with the RO to discuss an extension prior to submitting any paperwork. You must submit a completed Extension of Stay Request form along with supporting documents.
You must report any change of your major and/or degree/program level to ISS no later than 10 days after the change has been made by the Registrar's office. ISS is required to report these changes to USCIS. You will need to request a new I-20. Students must submit a completed Request for New I-20 form.
As a general rule, the name on the I-20/DS-2019 must match a student's passport. Students who change their name must update their passport immediately. Once this is done students can request a new I-20 based on that name change and obtain a new visa when needed.
Massachusetts law and BSU policy require all international students to purchase the BSU health insurance policy since it fulfills all applicable requirements. Travel insurance or home country insurance cannot be used to waive this requirement. Students must enroll in the BSU insurance plan online no later than by August 1 for the fall semester and December 1 for the spring semester of each year. You must be registered for courses before you can enroll in the health insurance plan. Contact Health Services for additional information or inquiries.
All students must provide proof of immunization to the following:
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
Hepatitis B Series
In addition, all students must also show proof of a negative TB test. Contact Health Services for additional information or inquiries.
A leave of absence for one semester or two semesters requires PDSO approval, communication with the Registrar's office and approval from the appropriate academic department. Students must meet with Dr. Rawjee to discuss their situation and immigration options. Students are required to submit a completed Request for Leave of Absence form along with supporting documents.
A leave of absence will be approved for one semester at a time. Students who need to return to their home country for personal or financial reasons may not remain in the U.S. in F-1 status. The I-20 for a student who will remain outside the U.S. will be terminated. A new I-20 may be issued for the semester in which the student will resume studies. The student must communicate with ISS to verify if a new Affidavit of Financial Support with matching bank statement (checking or savings accounts only) is needed. Students must contact ISS at least 60 days prior to the start of the intended semester of return.
Students approved for a partial or complete medical leave of absence may remain in the U.S. based on the written recommendation of a qualified medical practitioner. They may request a reduced course load or a complete leave of absence based on medical reasons for a maximum of 12 months during their academic program.
Remember to obtain a travel signature on your I-20/DS2019 from ISS when traveling outside the borders of the U.S. Plan ahead of time! ISS currently takes 2-5 business days to process your travel signature request. Processing time may be longer during busy periods. All students requesting a travel signature are required to submit a completed and signed Travel Signature Request Form. Travel signatures are granted to students who meet all eligibility requirements.
Travel signatures for continuing students will be valid for one year provided the student continues to maintain legal immigration status.
Students who need to travel during the semester will have to either make sure they don't miss any classes or request permission from their instructors to miss class.
Students who have applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT) must show a Notice of Action Receipt from USCIS to request a travel signature. Students who have received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or approval for OPT must submit a copy of the EAD in order to request a travel signature. Students with expired F-1 visas are responsible for renewing them. USCIS recommends that students on OPT show a letter from their employer at the Port of Entry when returning to the U.S.
All students who have either applied for or are currently on OPT should communicate with ISS for current information on appropriate documents and immigration regulations. Travel signatures for students on OPT are valid for six months only.
Last Modified: July 2, 2012