Responsibilities of International Students
A. Student and Exchange Visitor Information System
As of August 1, 2003, all international students and scholars and their dependents (F and J visas) must be entered into SEVIS, a federally mandated monitoring and tracking system. The system is designed for students to keep the same SEVIS ID number throughout their studies in the U.S. The Office of International Students and Scholars will now be reporting biographical, academic, and immigration information on all our international students, scholars, and their dependents to the Immigration Service on a regular basis. Additionally, all immigration processes, such as transfers, extensions, practical training, change of program, extension of stay, etc. will now be done through SEVIS. Therefore, it is extremely important that you do not do anything to violate your status since the information will now be reported to the Immigration Service and your student status will be terminated immediately. (please see the following section, “Maintaining Status”).
Note: Allow plenty of time for your immigration requests to be processed since every form and procedure will need to be submitted, approved, and returned by the SEVIS system.
With the implementation of SEVIS, it is now extremely important to maintain your non-immigrant status. Failure to remain in lawful immigration status can result in serious repercussions and possibly removal from the U.S. Students who violate their immigration status will either need to leave the country or apply for reinstatement (applying to regain your F-1 status) with the BCIS local office.
In order to maintain your immigration status you should:
- Be enrolled as a full-time student during the regular academic year for the duration of your studies. Undergraduates must be enrolled for at least 12 credits of course work each semester. Graduate students usually must carry 9-12 credits each semester or be working full-time on a thesis. A combination of thesis and course work is acceptable. Each graduate department has its own definition of full-time, so be sure to meet the approval of your particular department and the Dean’s office of your school. You cannot drop below full time without PRIOR approval from the Office of International Students and Scholars. Approval from an academic dean is not sufficient. There are very few circumstances in which you are permitted to drop below full-time. Failing a course is NOT a valid reason (you will have to take an F or Incomplete).
- Obtain extensions of your I-20 or DS-2019 when appropriate BEFORE the end date on your I-20 or DS-2019, and do not remain in the U.S beyond your authorized stay (see, “Extensions of Stay”).
- Notify your current school if you will transfer programs or schools. To transfer, you must be accepted to the new school and must be eligible to transfer based on having maintained status at the current school (see “Transferring to Another School or Changing Degree Program”).
- Inform the Office of International Students and Scholars of any change of visa information, extension of passport, or permission to stay in the U.S.
- Receive permission before working on or off campus. Do not begin work without prior authorization from either the Office of International Students and Scholars or the Immigration Service.
- Report your current local address to the Office of International Students and Scholars upon arrival to Boston College and any change of address in AGORA (be sure to enter the information under “local address”) within 10 days of the change. Note that with the implementation of SEVIS, you no longer have to fill out an AR-11 form for the Immigration Service.
- Inform the Office of International Students and Scholars of any plans to change academic status such as a leave of absence, change in graduation date, or withdrawal from the university BEFORE the change occurs.
- Report any dependents (Spouse or Children) to the Office of International Students and Scholars. The Office of International Students and Scholars must now keep biographical and immigration records on all dependents (see section C below regarding dependents).
- Obey all State and Federal laws.
Note: As of January 1, 2003, reinstatements will NOT be offered to students out of status for more than five months and will require the Designated School Official to officially recommend reinstatement. In general, reinstatements will only be approved if the violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student’s control. It has become increasingly difficult to obtain reinstatements, and it can take many months to obtain approval.
Dependents must also report to the Office of International Students and Scholars with their immigration documents. F-2 and J-2 dependents now have their own immigration form. In addition, F-2 students are no longer allowed to study full-time and must apply for a change of status in order to become a full-time student (see “Changes of Immigration Status”). An F-2 child may only engage in full-time study if the study is in an elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through 12th grade). As of now, J-2 dependents can still study full-time, but we anticipate that this will change in the near future.
D. Additional Requirements (in addition to immigration regulations)
- File an income tax return if required. Complete a Boston College Foreign National Information Form for tax purposes at the Human Resources Service Center at 129 Lake St if you are receiving tuition remission or working on campus.(see tax section of this website)
- Obtain health insurance for the duration of your stay. Please note that all international students are required to purchase and will be billed automatically for the Boston College health insurance plan. To learn more about insurance requirements and waivers visit the BC insurance website.
Attention J-1 Exchange Visitor Students: Please see Important Health Insurance Information for All J-1 Exchange Visitors.