Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I bring my spouse/child to the U.S.?
- I'd like to invite my family to the U.S. to visit me. Do I need to do anything?
Maintaining F-1 Status
- Do I need to be full-time every semester?
- How do I renew or extend my I-20?
- What if I cannot pick-up my documents? Can I have a friend/family member pick them up?
- What should I do if my passport expires?
- Do I need to have health insurance?
- What will happen if I become ill?
- I've lost all of my immigration documents! What can I do?
Transferring F-1 Status
- What if I have received a Form I-20 from another school?
- What if I am unable to attend UMass Boston?
- What if I am going to another school in the U.S. before I come to UMass Boston?
- What if I recently attended another school in the U.S. in F-1 status?
Travel on F-1 Status
- What should I do if I want to travel?
- Oh no! I forgot to have my I-20 signed before I left the United States! What should I do?
- My visa is going to expire. What should I do?
- What if I am in the U.S. on a status other than F-1?
- Do I need a visa if I am a Canadian citizen?
- Can I use my B-1/B-2 visitor's visa to enter the U.S.?
Working in the U.S.
- Do I need permission to work in the United States?
- How do I apply for a Social Security card?
- Are international students eligible for financial aid?
- Where can I get more information regarding getting a US driver's license or a social security number?
U.S. immigration law requires that all international students pursue a full course of study for the duration of their stay: minimum of 12 credits for undergraduate students and 9 credits for graduate students.
The only exceptions to the full-time requirement are for
- students in their final semester and
- students on medical leave.
In the Forms section of this website you will find a Travel Signature Request Form. Fill it out and submit it with your most current I-20. ISSS will sign the travel endorsement on page three of your I-20 within five business days. You will need to show this signature to CBP agent in order to re-enter the U.S.
If you leave the U.S. and forget to get a travel signature on page three of your I-20, you should contact the ISSS immediately. We will provide you with a letter to present to CBP. You may receive an I-515A if you reenter the U.S. without the travel signature. This is a temporary 30-day entry to the U.S. Immediately upon return you must report to the ISSS office and we will assist you with the I-515A paperwork.
As an F-1 international student you can work on-campus up to 20 hours per week when school is in session and 40 hours per week in summer and winter breaks. You will not need permission for this, but you will need a Social Security Number in order to be paid. You may pick up a Social Security Application Packet at the ISSS office.
- For any off-campus work, you will need permission. Please refer to the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) in the Current Students section. You can also print out the following information about employment possibilities for F-1 international student status.
If you hold are an incoming F-1 student, you can bring over your spouse or child as a dependent. International Admissions will issue you a “dependent I-20,” which will allow your spouse/child to apply for an F-2 visa at a U.S. consulate/embassy in their home country.
- If you are a current F-1 student in the United States and you wish to bring a spouse/child, please contact the ISSS office and we will assist you. You can fill out the F-2 Dependent I-20 request and submit with a copy of the passport I.D. page(s) of your spouse/child.
ISSS will not be writing invitation letters. You can, however, follow our template and write your own. You are the person inviting your family so the letter should come from you, not ISSS. Please see our Invitation Letter Instructions document as well as our Forms page.
If you will not finish your program by the program end date on your Form I-20, you should contact your academic advisor and have him/her fill out a program extensions form. To extend your program, you must submit a new DCF Form, that shows you have funds for the additional time you will be in the United States. Renewal of your I-20 is your responsibility and you must note the end date of your program on page one of your I-20. If you do not extend before that date, you will need to travel and re-enter the U.S. or apply for reinstatement with USCIS.
You should NOT WORRY if your visa expires!
There are thousands of international students in the U.S. on expired visas. You are in legal status in the United States for the length of time listed on your I-20.
- It is not possible to renew a visa in the United States. You should renew your visa at a U.S. embassy/consulate when you return to your home country.
- You may travel and return on an expired U.S. visa to Mexico, Canada and the adjacent isles. For more information, please read about automatic revalidation on the Current Students page.
To travel to Canada, Mexico or the adjacent isles, you must check with those governmental authorities to find out if you need a visa to enter.
If you cannot come to the ISSS office to pick-up your immigration documents, you may send a friend/family member in your place. This person will need to present us with the 3rd Party Consent Form that you have signed. The third party must also present a picture ID. ISSS will not release any documents without written consent due to FERPA laws that protect a student’s right to privacy.
International Students are not eligible for federal financial aid. To learn more on funding and scholarships for F-1 international students, this link.
You must always keep a valid passport six months into the future. If you discover that your passport has expired, you must immediately contact your countries embassy. A list of foreign embassies in the U.S. can be found at this link.
All international students are required to purchase the health insurance offered by the university. For more information, please visit the University Health Services website. For questions about billing and payment, contact the Bursar’s Office.
ABSOLUTELY NOT! If you do, you will need to leave the U.S. and re-enter in appropriate F-1 student status. If you have been in the U.S. in B-1/B-2 visitor status, and you feel you will have difficulty obtaining an F-1 student visa in your home country, we recommend you speak with an experienced immigration attorney.
DO NOT enter the United States using a college or university’s Form I-20 if you do not intend to enroll at that school. If you have been admitted to more than one school, you must enter the U.S. using the Form I-20 from the school that you wish to attend.
You MUST inform the admissions office so that your SEVIS record can be canceled or deferred.
Please contact ISSS immediately to discuss your current status and potential student status with an immigration advisor.
You should only use a Form I-20 from the first school you will attend. When you are done with your program at the first school, you will need to have your SEVIS record transferred to UMass Boston. To do this you should work with the admissions offices.
Your SEVIS record will need to be transferred from your previous school to UMass Boston. Contact International Admissions for assistance with SEVIS transfer.
Citizens of Canada are NOT required to obtain a U.S. visa to enter the United States. However, a U.S. immigration official will inspect your papers upon entry. You must have proof of Canadian citizenship, your Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20) and proof of financial support. Make sure your documents are marked F-1 D/S upon entering (especially if you are driving into the U.S.).
If you become ill, you are allowed up to 12 months of Reduced Course Load. You will need to apply for this each semester and provide a letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, of a licensed clinical psychologist that outlines your situation.
Please follow this link to view our Lost and Stolen Document Information Sheet.
Where can I get more information regarding getting a U.S. driver's license or a social security number?
For more information on getting a driver's license or a social security number check out SEVIS's Timing is Everything: Getting Your Driver's License or Social Security Number information sheet.