Immigration Guidance

Maintaining Status

International Advising

Maria Polyanskaya
International Student Advisor

Fax: 617.585.0121

International students from over 30 countries have chosen the great city of Boston and the BAC as the place to pursue their academic careers. The International Student Services (ISS) staff can address questions concerning academics, cultural issues, employment, health, housing, taxes and immigration. Immigration law in the United States places the responsibility on the student to know and understand the immigration regulations that govern their stay in this country. A failure to comply with the regulations may have very severe consequences with respect to a student's ability to complete his or her studies, seek employment, and even return to the United States as a tourist. An international student with an F-1 visa must make sure to maintain the immigration status that was given to them upon entering the United States. The ISS staff is here to make this as easy as possible.

It is extremely important to maintain your immigration status while studying at the BAC. F-1 students need to comply with the following regulations to maintain their status, as a failure to do so may result in deportation.

Make sure that your immigration documents are valid at all times while in the US.

  • Your passport must be valid at all times while in F-1 status.
  • You must have a passport and entry stamp displaying "F-1 D/S" (D/S stands for Duration of Status).
  • You must have an unexpired Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) I-20 form.
  • The F-1 visa may expire while you are in the United States but it needs to be renewed if you intend to re-enter the US on some future date.

Register for, and complete, a full course load each semester.*

  • Undergraduate students are required to complete at least 12 credits each semester.
  • Graduate students are required to complete at least 9 credits each semester.

If you are planning to register for less than full-time credits as defined above, a reduced course load may be possible but you must obtain approval BEFORE you finalize your registration.

Please note that all students are expected to make normal progress toward the completion of their degree and complete their studies by the program end date on their I-20 form. See the International Student Advisor if you will not complete your studies within the specified program dates. I-20 extensions must be approved at least 30 days prior to their expiration date.

Do not accept unlawful employment or continue to work without prior approval.
F-1 students may accept on-campus employment of no more than 20 hours per week. Off-campus employment (practice hours) requires prior approval before starting to work, so plan accordingly.

Report changes of address to the International Student Advisor within 10 days of moving.
F-1 students are required to maintain current US and foreign addresses in their SEVIS records.

Obtain a travel signature from the International Student Advisor and other relevant documents prior to departing the United States.
To re-enter the US you must have a valid "travel and re-entry signature" on the third page of your I-20 form.

File taxes each tax year.
All international students must file the form 8843. This is the only form needed if you did not earn income during the tax year. F-1 students with US income from sources such as dividend income, salary or wages, scholarships or fellowships, prizes or awards will need to file either form 1040NR or 1040NR EZ. Tax information for international students will be available each spring semester.

Contact the International Student Advisor immediately if there is a change in your academic or personal situation such as:

  • change of name which requires a new passport or I-20.
  • change of degree program.
  • change of financial support and financial resources.
  • departure from the school for any reason.

Maintain continuity of records if you are transferring to another SEVIS approved school.
If you have been accepted at another school and need to have your SEVIS record transferred to that school, you must present the International Student Advisor with a letter of acceptance and a SEVIS transfer form.

Upon completion of your degree, you have a 60-day grace period to either:

  • depart the United States,
  • transfer to another SEVIS approved program,
  • make a change of educational level, or,
  • apply for a benefit with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

*Limited exceptions to the "full course load" requirement are allowed, but F-1 students must follow the required process.
The International Student Advisor must approve the reduced course load prior to the student dropping classes or registering for less than a full course of study. An F-1 student who drops below a full course of study without prior approval of an International Student Advisor is considered to be out of status.

The Department of Homeland Security strictly limits the reasons for which a reduced course load may be granted. The applicable reasons are:

  • illness or medical condition,
  • initial difficulty with English language,
  • initial difficulty with reading requirements,
  • unfamiliarity with American teaching methods,
  • improper course placement, or,
  • student will complete the program of study in the current term.

When an International Student Advisor approves F-1 students to be enrolled on a part-time basis the students are considered to be maintaining status even if they are not registered for a full course of study. If you believe that one of the above conditions applies to you please see your Academic Advisor and the International Student Advisor.