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Current Students

Information for Current Students

As an international student, you are responsible for meeting the obligations to maintain your legal status in the United States. The Office of International Students and Scholars will continue to keep you informed of the current changes to immigration regulations as we become aware of them, so check your BC e-mail account and this page regularly for updates.

Immigration regulations are constantly changing. Be sure to check your BC email regularly and refer to the Immigration Updates page for the most recent information.

The OISS is here to assist you with matters beyond immigration and connect you with resources in the BC community and beyond. Please find the following helpful resources below: 

English Language Resources

Tax Information  

Health Insurance Information

University Counseling Services

Social Security Number Information

OISS Programs

Frequently Used Addresses

Helpful Links



F-1 - Student Visa

J-1 - Exchange Visitor Visa

I-20 -  Immigration Form for F-1 Students

DS-2019 - Immigration Form for J-1 Exchange Visitors

SEVIS -  Student Exchange Visitor Information System

EAD -  Employment Authorization Document

DOS - Department of State

D/S -  Duration of Status

NSEERS - National Security Entry-Exit Registration System    

OPT - Optional Practical Training

CPT - Curricular Practical Training

DHS - Department of Homeland Security


CIS: Citizenship and Immigration Services

ICE: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

CBP: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection



A. Passport

You must keep your passport valid for at least six months into the future at all times. In order to renew your passport, you should contact the Embassy or Consulate of your country. There are many Consulates in the Boston area. If there is no Consulate for your country in the Boston area, you will need to contact one in New York City or Washington, D.C.

B. Visa

An official of a United State Embassy or Consulate will stamp a visa on a page in your passport. The visa stamp identifies the visa classification (F-1, J-1, etc.), expiration date, and number of admissions for which the visa is valid. It is necessary to have a valid visa in order to enter the U.S. Once you arrive in the U.S., your visa is allowed to expire. The validity period of the visa does not indicate how long you may remain in the U.S. after entry; your I-94 and I-20 Form (for F-1 students) or DS-2019 Form (for J-1 students) has that information.

C. I-94 Form

The I-94 form (Entry Permit) is the small white card that was stapled in your passport at your port of entry to the U.S. The I-94 is very important and should be kept in a safe place. It indicates your date and port of entry, visa status, and how long you have been given permission to remain in the United States. If you are a student with F-1 or J-1 visa status, you will not have a specific expiration date written on your I-94 form. Instead you will find the notation “D/S,” which stands for “Duration of Status.” The notation means that your I-94 Form is considered to be valid as long as you are a full-time student at the school you were authorized to attend and your I-20 Form (F-1 students) or DS-2019 (J-1 students) has not expired yet. (If your I-20 or DS-2019 Form is expiring, please see Section V, “Extensions of Stay.”)

D. I-20 (F students) and DS-2019 (J Students)

Your I-20 or DS-2019 form is to be retained by you at all times and not surrendered upon temporary departure from the U.S. since it will be needed for re-entry. Both forms now have a SEVIS ID number that is unique to the individual student and will be important in transactions with the Immigration Service. It is very important that the form be retained safely for the student’s entire period of study in the U.S. since it is used for all applications and temporary departures.

The I-20 form specifically has a third page which will accumulate a record of all transactions about the student’s status such as extension of stay, transfer of schools, off-campus work permission, and recommendation for practical training.





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.

   B. Maintaining Status (Important!)

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.

C. Dependents

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.




Traveling Within the U.S.

It is recommended that you carry copies of their immigration documents (or have access to copies in your smartphone) with you even when traveling domestically within the U.S., although no signatures on the I-20 or DS-2019 are required.

Traveling Outside the U.S.

IMPORTANT! NEVER re-enter the U.S. on any visa status other than F-1 or J-1 as it will cancel your student/scholar status.

If you plan to leave the U.S. to visit another country, you must have the following documents in order to return to the U.S.:

  • Valid Passport: Your passport should be valid at least six months into the future. You can usually renew your passport at your country’s embassy in the U.S. For a list of foreign embassies in the U.S., go to
  • Valid Visa: If your visa has expired and you are traveling outside of North America (Canada, Mexico, and adjacent islands) you must renew your visa to return to the U.S. Procedures vary for each consulate. Check with your U.S. Consulate or Embassy for specific procedures:
  • I-94 form: If you entered the U.S. after May 2013 by air, you will have an electronic I-94 record that can be accessed online at  If you traveled by land or sea prior to May 2013, you will still likely have a small white card that should have been stapled into your passport. You will surrender this card upon leaving and will obtain a new electronic record when you return back to the U.S. (with the exception of travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean).
  • A Valid I-20 (F students) or DS-2019 (J students and scholars) with a valid travel signature from the OISS. See requirements below.  Once signed, the travel signature is valid for one year from the date of the signature. (Canadian Citizens and those on post completion OPT require signatures every 6 months).  If you will need to renew your visa it is recommended that you obtain a new travel signature even if it is less than a year old. The travel signature can be found on page 3 of the I-20 form and on the lower right-hand corner of page 1 on the DS-2019.If you are finishing your program and leaving Boston College, you do not need a signature to leave the U.S.
  • Post Completion Optional Practical Training Students Only: EAD Card and job offer letter.  If you have not yet received your EAD Card you may be able to travel with your I-797 receipt. If you do not have a job offer letter there is a risk that you may not be able to re-enter the U.S. or renew your F-1 visa.  Please consult with the OISS if you want to travel and do not have have the EAD Card and/or job offer letter.

Travel Signature Requirements:

In most cases, travel signatures can be done the same day; however, if no one is available to sign your immigration form, it will be ready the next day. If you require a new I-20 or DS-2019 (see below) it will take 2-3 days to process. Please plan accordingly and try to come in at least a few days before you are traveling.

Funding requirements for travel signatures:

Undergraduate Students: Undergraduate students do NOT need to show proof of funding each year UNLESS you need a new I-20 (see below).

Graduate Students:  For those receiving funding from BC, bring an original or copy of letter or have a direct email from your department sent to confirming any assistantships or tuition remission.  For all those not receiving funding or if the BC funding does not cover the required amount, you will need to show proof of funding*. (if you have to show less than $4,000 in personal funds you are exempt from this requirement).

J-1 Visiting Scholars and Professors: No additional proof of funding is necessary for your signature.

All students needing a new I-20: If you have lost your I-20 or you have run out of signature space we will need to make you a new I-20. In order to process the new I-20 we will need to see proof of funding* for tuition and living expenses the next 12 months or the remainder of your program if you will finish in less than 12 months. Please allow at least 2-3 days for your new I-20 to be processed.

*Acceptable Proof of Funding: Scanned or faxed copies of original bank statements or copies/scans of signed and stamped bank letters are acceptable. If you are showing funds from a U.S. bank we will accept an online printout of your account. 

Travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean:

For a visit of less than 30 days to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean (except Cuba), you are allowed to re-enter the U.S. with an expired visa.  This process is known as “Automatic Visa Revalidation.”  You should print off your I-94 record BEFORE you travel and when you re-enter, you should show them your I-94 record print-out.  Please note if you apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa in Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean and are denied, you will not be able to return to the U.S. using Automatic Revalidation. Please consult the OISS before making a decision to apply for a new visa in these countries.

Note! Check with the specific country's embassy website to see if you are required to have a tourist visa in order to visit the country you are visiting.

Taking a Leave of Absence

In order to take a leave of absence you must obtain permission from your department or dean’s office and then contact the Office on International Students and Scholars. If you will be out of the country for MORE than five months you will not eligible for certain benefits (for example, practical training) until you have been in legal status for another full academic year (this does not apply to undergraduates on BC approved study abroad programs and PhD students enrolled at BC and doing dissertation work abroad). Please note that you CANNOT remain in the U.S. while on a leave of absence unless you have been approved for a documented medical leave.


Extending Your I-20 (F-1 visa) or DS-2019 (J-1 visa)
If you do not complete your educational program within the time period indicated on your I-20 or DS-2019 form,  you are required to file a program extension with the OISS PRIOR to the expiration of your immigration form. You must demonstrate that you are currently a full-time student in good standing and have a legitimate academic reason for the delay such as a change in major or research topic or unexpected research problems.

IMPORTANT!  You MUST request your I-20 or DS-2019 extension with the Office of International Students and Scholars PRIOR to the expiration date on your I-20 or DS-2019 form or you will lose your immigration status!


In order to extend your I-20 or DS-2019 form you will need to submit the following:

1.  An email or letter from your department chair, faculty advisor, or Dean of your school which states that you are a full time student in good standing, your new expected graduate date and the valid academic reason(s) for your delay.  If your department is providing funding they should include this in the email/letter.

What is my completion date?

  • The date of completion will be your graduation date (unless you are finishing in the summer session in which case it is the end date of your summer session).   
  • Dissertation/thesis students: Your completion date will be your defense date including any revisions. If you defend in the middle of the semester and have a assistantship in your department, your completion date will be the end of the semester.

2. Proof of finances for the amount of time you will be extending. Living expenses are set at approximately $2000 per month. Cost per credit for the credits you have remaining should be found on your student account or ask the OISS.

Documents can be submitted by email or in person at the OISS (see contact details below). It will take 1-2 weeks for your form to be extended and you will receive an email from the OISS when it is ready.

What if my visa in my passport has expired?
Your visa in your passport is an ENTRY permit. You are allowed to stay in the U.S. if your visa has expired, however the next time you leave the U.S. (with the exception of Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean) you must go to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad to apply for a new visa. For more information, please visit OISS.

Grace Period after Completion of Studies
As an F-1 student you are allowed 60 days to remain in the United States after your completion of studies date. J-1 students and scholars are allowed 30 days. During this time you are no longer allowed to work, study or re-enter the US. Note that the 30 or 60 day period is from the day that you complete your studies, NOT necessarily the expiration of your I-20 or DS 2019 form if you have finished earlier than your form indicates.  If you have applied for F-1 Optional Practical Training you can remain in the U.S. while your OPT is pending or until the start date of your OPT.


A. F-1 Transfers to a New Degree Program at Boston College
If you will be enrolling in a changed or a second degree program at Boston College, you should bring a copy of your acceptance letter and evidence of your financial support to the Office of International Students and Scholars BEFORE your current I-20 expires. The Office of International Students and Scholars will issue a new I-20 Form for the new degree program.

B. Transferring your F-1 Status- procedure
All students keep the same SEVIS identification number throughout the duration of their time in F-1 status. If you are currently a student in the U.S. you MUST transfer your F-1 status. (This applies to all students including those students traveling prior to their arrival to Boston College as well as those starting a new degree).

An F-1 student is eligible to transfer to another academic institution if he or she:

  • Is in valid F-1 status.
  • Can document that he or she was a full-time enrolled student at the previous school. It is suggested that students obtain a letter from their department or a copy of their transcript to present to the new school.
  • Intends to pursue a full course of study at the proposed institution.
  • Is financially able to attend the new institution.

If a student has not been pursuing a full course of study at the previous institution or does not complete the transfer within the time allotted, he or she must apply for reinstatement to student status before a transfer can be requested.

Note: Students may re-enter the U.S. with their new I-20 without going to a U.S. Consulate to get the name of the new institution written onto the valid F-1 visa in their passport. It is strongly recommended that you carry a copy of the previous I-20 form from the institution designated on your visa. If a student travels outside the U.S. between programs at different institutions and his or her visa expires before re-entry, a new visa should be obtained at a Consulate abroad using the new I-20 Form and proof of funds.

C. J-1 Transfers- procedures
J-1 Transfers follow a similar procedure as outlined above. If you wish to transfer from one Exchange Visitor sponsor to another, you must notify your current sponsor of your plans and request that they release your SEVIS record to your new sponsor. The new sponsor will then issue a new DS-2019 Form for you and complete the transfer procedure. Please note that you must begin the transfer procedure before the expiration date of your current DS-2019 Form.


Many people already living in the United States must change their visa status in order to become a full-time student or once they have completed their studies, choose to change to a tourist or worker status. If you are in the U.S. in F-2 (spouse or child of an F-1 student) or B-2 (tourist) status you CANNOT begin your studies until your change of status is approved by the Immigration Service. Those on other visa statuses, please consult with our office as to your eligibility for study under your current status.

Changing immigration status can be done two different ways:

  1. Traveling abroad and applying for a new visa stamp at a U.S. embassy or consulate OR
  2. Filing a change of status application while remaining in the U.S. This process usually takes about 60 days, so you must plan accordingly if you are required to change your status prior to beginning your studies. As long as you file before you current status expires, you are allowed to remain in the U.S. until you receive a response from the Immigration Service. Please note that the next time you travel outside of the country, you will still need to apply for a new visa stamp at the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.
Here are some examples of typical changes of status:

A. Change from B-2 Visitor to F-1 Student

It is not recommended to come to the U.S. on a B-2 visitor’s visa if you are planning to attend school full-time. The Immigration Service often will deny the applications for changes from B-2 to F-1 if they feel that the person falsified his or her intentions when entering the U.S. and simply entered on the visitor’s visa to avoid the hassle of applying for an F-1. Please note that you CANNOT come in on the Visa Waiver Program and change to F-1.

If you must enter the U.S. before obtaining your F-1 student visa, you should apply to the U.S. Consulate for a B-2 prospective student’s visa. The Consulate usually will grant the visa if you show them an admission letter and explain why you cannot wait to receive the I-20 Form. Changes of status from this type of visa to the F-1 visa are usually easily approved in the U.S.

If you are not able to do either option and must enter the U.S. before obtaining your F-1 student or B-2 prospective student visa, you should inform the inspecting immigration officer at the port of entry of your intent of becoming a student and show some proof if possible (such as an admission letter.) The immigration officer will then write the notation on your I-94 card that you are a “prospective student.” This should allow you to change your status to F-1.

Note: You will not be allowed to enroll at BC if you are in B-2 status and waiting for your change of status to F-1. You cannot begin classes until your change of status has been approved by the USCIS and you are officially in F-1 status.

B. Change from F-1 Student to B-2 Visitor
As part of your F-1 student status, you have a 60-day grace period to remain in the U.S. after you complete your studies. If you wish to stay longer to be a tourist, you can apply for a change of status to B-2 visitor. You must document that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during this time since no employment is permitted on the B-2 visa. You also will need to convince United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and of your intentions of returning home after your visit. USCIS generally will only allow you to remain in the U.S. for an additional 30-day period unless you have a compelling reason for staying longer.

If you already have a valid tourist visa in your passport or you are from a country which allows you to enter on a “tourist waiver”, the change of status can be accomplished by leaving the country and re-entering as a tourist.

C. Change from F-1 Student Practical Training to H-1b Temporary Worker
For students who wish to continue employment after the expiration of their practical training in most cases it is possible to change status from F-1 student to H-1b temporary worker. However, unlike practical training where no job offer is required, the H-1 visa is employer and job specific. The employer must be willing to “petition” an H-1 for you. Obtaining an H-1 is much more complicated than other visa categories and involves the Department of Labor as well as the Immigration Service. Often the services of an immigration lawyer are advised.

D. Change from F-2 Dependent to F-1 Student
As of January 1, 2003, an F-2 dependent is required to change to F-1 status in order to pursue full time studies (except for F-2 minors studying at the primary or secondary level). If you would like to study full-time in the U.S., you must apply to USCIS for a change of status to F-1. With the application you will need to certify that you have the minimum TOEFL score and sufficient financial certification to cover your tuition and living expenses for the first year of your program. Please be aware that you absolutely CANNOT begin your full-time studies while the petition is pending. Therefore, please apply as far in advance as possible as it can take one month or more for your application to be approved.

E. Change from J-1 Exchange Visitor to Other Visa Categories
Students and scholars who are not subject to the two-year home residency requirement are free to change status to any other visa status for which they qualify. However, if you are subject to the two-year home residency requirement then you are prohibited from changing your visa status to that of an H-1, L-1, or permanent resident until you fulfill the requirement or obtain a waiver. Additionally, if you are subject to the requirement, you cannot change status to F-1 student within the U.S. You must leave the country and apply for the F-1 student visa at a Consulate abroad. This is most easily done in your home country. Please be aware that even if you do return to the U.S. on the F-1 student visa, you are still subject to the residency requirement and will not be able to obtain the H-1 or L-1 visas or permanent residency until you fulfill the requirement or obtain a waiver.

Exchange Visitors are also prohibited from changes in categories within the Exchange Visitor Program in the U.S. For example, you cannot change from a J-1 student to a J-1 scholar or vice versa. Usually you can leave the U.S. and begin a new program.





 On-campus work for F-1 and J-1 students

  • On-campus work for Boston College, or off-campus employment which has a contract-based educational affiliation with the University, or work for commercial firms on campus which provide services to students (such as the Bookstore).
  • Limited to a total of 20 hours per week while school is in session (including any assistantships, stipends for leadership positions and any authorized off-campus employment). Full-time work is permitted during vacation periods such as winter break, spring break and summer vacation (if you are not taking classes). 
  • On campus work permission is authorized by the OISS. Undergraduates are not permitted to work on-campus during their first semester. Graduate students need permission from their departments (GCSOM students are exempt from the letter requirement)




Optional Practical Training (OPT)

  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a period of paid employment that is directly related to your field of study. 
  • You must have been a full-time student for at least one academic year to be eligible.
  • OPT can be done prior to the completion of your studies (called "pre-completion OPT") and/or after you have completed your studies (called "post-completion OPT").
  • You are eligible for a total of 12 months of OPT per degree level (and in some cases an additional 24 months for specific designated STEM fields).
  • You DO NOT have to have a job offer to apply for OPT.
  • Authorized by the Immigration Service - there is a fee for the applicaiton and it can take up to 3 months to be approved


 Curricular Practical Training

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is off-campus employment, directly related to your field of study, which is either 1) required for your degree or dissertation OR 2) for academic credit towards your degree.
  • You must have been full-time student for at least one academic year to be eligible.
  • You must have a specific job offer to be eligibe for CPT.
  • There is no limit on how long a student can participate in CPT, however exceeding more than one year of full-time CPT will result in the loss of your OPT benefit.  
  • CPT will be authorized by the OISS and a new I-20 will be issued for the CPT. This will take approximately 1-2 weeks.


 Unforseen Economic Need

  • Off-campus work permission granted due to unforseen economic need due to circumstances beyond the student's control. 
  • You must demonstrate that other employment opportunities on campus are not available.
  • You must have been a full-time student for at least one academic year to be eligible.
  • Authorized by the Immigration Service - there is a fee for the application and it can take up to 3 months to be approved.



Note: The Office of International Students and Scholars can only authorize employment for students on Boston College’s J-1 Exchange Visitor program. If you are sponsored by another organization, you must address any questions regarding your employment to your sponsor.
NOTE: Spouses and children in F-2 status are not allowed to work.

Academic Training: Off-Campus Work Permission for J-1 Students

  • Employment directly related to a student’s major field of study and is an integral or critical part of his or her academic program.
  • You are eligible for a total of 18 months of academic training which can be used during your course of study (part-time or full-time), upon completion of studies, or a combination of both. Training that is a mandatory part of an academic program will not count against the 18 months available. Postdoctoral students are permitted to participate in academic training for up to 36 months.
  • You must have a specific job offer to be eligible for academic training. Post-completion academic training must be applied for within 30 days of completion of studies.


J-2 Work Permission: Work Permission for dependents of J-1 visa holders.

  •  J-2 dependents may apply to the Immigration Service for permission to accept employment if such employment is needed for the support of the dependents and not for the support of the J-1 Exchange Visitor.
  • Authorized by the Immigration Service - there is a fee for the applicaiton and it can take up to 3 months to be approved.
  • Contact the OISS for additional information


All international students should be fully aware of the increasingly high cost of living in the U.S. as well as the following information about international student finances:

  1. Financial Aid: Most financial aid at Boston College is tied to federal funding. Since international students may not receive U.S. government aid, they are not eligible for financial aid at Boston College.

  2. Scholarships and Tuition Remission: No scholarship aid is available to undergraduate international students. Graduate students may receive tuition remission, fellowships, and assistantships through their graduate school, but these can only be guaranteed for one year at a time. Students should keep in mind that even full graduate school support (consisting of an assistantship and tuition remission) cannot fully cover all expenses, and therefore additional personal funds will need to be certified.

  3. Financial Certification: Students attending Boston College for more than one year will be required to submit an updated financial certification every year if their initial certification covers only the first year.


Apply for a Social Security Number? (SSN)?

Social Security Numbers (SSN) are only issued to F-1 international students who have secured a job on campus. Although many institutions such as banks, landlords, etc. may ask you for one, you are not required to have one.  J-1 students and scholars may apply for an SSN before they have secured employment.  

All applicants must present:

  • All immigration documents: Passport, I-94 card, SEVIS I-20 for F students (or DS-2019  for J students) and I-94 record to print out your I-94. 
  • Work permission letter from OISS
  • "Statement Concerning F-1 Student’s Application for a Social Security Number” (F-1 students only)  

Social Security Office – Boston                      
10 Causeway Street, Room 148
Boston, MA 02222
(Green Line to North Station)
Check for hours (enter 02222 zip code to get Boston hours)

Be sure to ask for a receipt. You will not get the Social Security card when you apply.  It will be shipped to the address you provide on your application.  It typically takes 2 weeks to arrive.  There is no fee for the SSN.

Attention: new students and scholars entering the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status for the first time: Wait for the instructions from the OISS concerning the date that you are eligible to go to the Social Security Office

You MUST bring your Social Security Number to the Human Resources Service Center, 129 Lake Street- Brighton Campus, when you recieve your SSN.


tax information for international students and scholars for the 2017 calendar tax year

Important: This information is provided as guidance only and is not intended to be tax advice. The staff of the OISS is NOT qualified to answer individual questions from international students/scholars regarding taxes. For those non-residents who have to file taxes, the OISS has purchased the Windstar tax preparation software to prepare federal and Massachusetts State forms.  If you have additional questions please consult the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), local and state tax agencies or a tax professional for advice and guidance regarding their individual tax situations.

Since we have a very limited number of Windstar passwords please read the information below very carefully to determine if you need to request access to Windstar.


Step 1: Determine if you are a resident or non-resident for Federal Tax purposes for the 2017 tax year.

F-1 and J-1 Students: Have you been in the U.S. for any part of five calendar years or less (not including 2018)? (see example below for calendar years)

  •  YES, I have been in the U.S. for five calendar years or less.   I am considered a non-resident; proceed to step 2.
  •  NO, I have been in the U.S. for more than 5 years. I am subject to something called a “Substantial Presence Test". I am most likely are considered resident alien for tax purposes and am NOT eligible for Windstar Tax Preparation Software. Please see additional resources section for assistance. 
  • NOT SURE: If you are still confused and have worked at BC contact BC Human Resources Service Center at 617 552 4772, or visit the office on the Brighton Campus at 129 Lake St. They can use their software to determine if you are a resident or non-resdient. If you have not worked at BC please see the additional resources section for assistance

How to count calendar years example:
Student who begins study in the U.S. in September 2012:
Sep-Dec 2013= 1 year
2014= year 2
2015= year 3
2016= year 4
2017= year 5
=  In the U.S. for 5 seperate calendar years so the student is considered a non- resident for tax year 2017, since the rule is 5 years OR LESS. Note: 2013 counts as one 1 year because any days counted wtihin that year count as a tax year.


Step 2: Complete Form 8843 - This is required For All Non-Residents (see above) even if you have not received income in the U.S.

All NON-resident international students and scholars are required by law to complete form 8843, even if you did NOT earn income in the U.S.  If you did not earn money in the U.S. in 2017, the 8843 is the only form you must complete. Please see OISS instructions for filling out and mailing the 8843 for help completing the form. You will NOT need access to Windstar Tax Preparation software to complete this form if this is the only form that you will complete. If you earned money in the U.S. please proceed to Step 3.


Step 3: Determine if you will need to file Federal Taxes (This information applies to non-residents only)

In addition to Form 8843, you are required to file a tax return if you answer "yes" to any of the following questions:

1. Have you received a scholarship or non-service stipend in 2017 above and beyond tuition remission (to cover living expenses etc.)?

2. Have you received a  fellowship grant from a U.S. source that exceeded the amount of your tuition and fees? This information is located on the 1042-S form (see information below about the 1042-S form)*   You will receive this form the last week of February.

3. Have you EARNED more than $4,050 in INCOME in the U.S. IN 2017? Income is any U.S. job, on-campus or off campus, including a teaching assistantship or a research assistantship. This information is located on a Form W-2 and the 1042-S form if you have a tax treaty. (See information below about the W-2 and 1042-S form)*

  • If YES you WILL need to file federal taxes (including those with tax treaties who earned MORE than $4,050. Proceed to step 4  
  •  If NO to questions 1 and 2. STOP -you are NOT required to file taxes. You are only required to fill out Form 8843 and you are done! You will NOT need a Windstar password.  Note: If you earned less than $4,050 and had federal taxes withheld, you may still file- you may be eligible for a refund using WINDSTAR.

Note: If you only received U.S. bank interest in 2017 and no other income you do not have to file federal taxes. 

*1042-S Form: This form is issued to you if you have worked on campus AND it was covered under a tax treaty between your home country and the U.S. You will also receive the form if you received a non-service stipend or athletic scholarship (above and beyond to tuition to cover living expenses) in 2017.For all students living off campus, the 1042-S form is mailed to you from the BC Human Resources Service Center in late March . All students living on campus should receive an email to pick up your forms at 129 Lake Street on the Brighton Campus. 

W-2 Form:  The W-2 form is issued at the end of January if you have worked in the U.S.  You will receive one from each seperate employer if you have worked for more than one.  The deadline for your employer to send your W-2 form to you is January 31, 2018. Note: Those who signed a tax treaty will only receive a W-2 if you earned more than the treaty allowance. Otherwise, you will receive the 1042-S only.   

If you have any questions about the information on your W-2 or 1042-S form or if you have not received these forms by the date indicated, please contact BC Human Resources Service Center at 617 552 4772, email or visit the HRSC at 129 Lake St. on the Brighton Campus.  If you have worked off-campus you should contact your specific employer.


Step 4:  Based on the information above, I WILL need to complete the 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR as a NON-resident by April 17, 2018.

If you meet the above criteria and need to file taxes as a NON-resident you will be eligible to use the Windstar Tax Preparation Program to file your federal and Massachusetts State taxes.  Note: Free software programs such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block are only work for those considered residents for tax purposes.

We are only able to offer the Windstar service to a limited number of people on a first come first serve basis. Because numbers are very limited, please DO NOT register for Windstar unless you have read through the steps outlined above and meet the criteria. Once you claim a access code we cannot give the number to anyone else even if you do not use it. 

To register to use the software please click here. You will be prompted to login with your BC User ID and Password. You will then be given a registration code and the link to the website that contains the Windstar Software. You will create your own username and password on this page to login to the software from then on. If you created a username and password last year, you will be able to use the same password using the new registration code. Keep your username and password in a safe place.  If you lose your password you can request a new one through the Windstar login site. If you lose your username please contact the OISS and do NOT request a new account.

If you used the software last year:

  • You will use the same username and password again this year. You will simply need to reactivate your login. You can do this by going to the registration page here to receive your new access code. Then follow the link on this page to the tax software webpage. On the right hand side you will see "Did your access code change? Click here to reactivate your account." Click on the link and input your old username and password as well as your new access code. Submit this form. Then you should be able to go back to the tax software homepage and use your old login information.
  • If you used the software last year but have forgotten your username or password, please follow the "forgot username or password" steps from the tax software homepage. After you have retrieved this information, use it to reactivate your account as described in the preceding paragraph.

To access the site in the future: You MUST access the software using this link.  After you are on the Windstar site, click the registration link on the right half of the screen. Then use the registration code that you were given in order to register.

For more information or technical help please email   


Additional Resources:

U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Boston Office: The IRS office in Boston has appointments available Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The Boston Office is located on the 7th floor of the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Federal Building in Government Center, 15 New Sudbury St. Boston MA.  Appointments can be made calling (844) 545 5640. It is recommended that you use all online resources, the IRS help line listed below and the IRS VITA program before making an appointment with the Boston Office.

U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS): You can call the IRS national help line at (800) 829-1040. You can also visit their web site at .

IRS VITA Program (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance): There are locations near BC in Brighton and Allston which provide free tax help to those making less than $54,000 in 2016.  There are some locations which offer help in a few other languages such as Spanish and Chinese. If you are considered a non-resident for tax purposes, please call ahead to ensure that there is someone available who can help you with non-resident taxes. To find a location and more information visit the IRS VITA locator page.

Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR): You can telephone the DOR statewide help line at (800) 392-6089 or call the Boston office at 617 887 6367. You can also visit their Web site at

For Massachusetts STATE taxes, international students are most likely considered a resident. Massachusetts does have a FREE user friendly e-filing system.  The webpage has a few questions to check your eligibility for using the program before you create a login. You are generally only required to fill out state forms if you had an income greater than $8000, however everyone who received a W-2 form and had Massachusetts tax withheld on the W-2 form can file to get money back.

Note: If you decide to contact your own tax accountant or attorney or a tax provider such as H&R Block, make sure that they specialize specifically in taxes for non-residents if you are a non-resident. Free online programs such as Turbo Tax do NOT work for non-residents.


For Students who are considered residents for tax purposes and are not eligible for Windstar:

In additional to the resources listed above, there are many free online programs available for those students and scholars who are considered residents for tax purposes such as Turbo Tax, H&R Block and many more. They will generally be free if you manually enter the information on your W-2 form and file your state taxes separately (see information below on free e-file for Massachusetts state tax filing.

For Massachusetts STATE taxes, international students are most likely considered a resident. Massachusetts does have a FREE user friendly e-filing system. The webpage has a few questions to check your eligiblity for using the program before you create a login. You are generally only required to fill out state forms if you had an income greater than $8000, however everyone who received a W-2 form and had Massachusetts tax withheld on the W-2 form can file to get money back.



As part of the United States Information Agency (USIA) J Exchange-Visitor visa regulations, all J-1 and J-2 (spouses and children) visa holders are required to have health insurance with the following provisions:

  • Medical benefits of at least $50,000 per illness or accident.
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per illness or accident.
  • Coverage of pre-existing conditions after a reasonable waiting period.
  • Payment by insurance company of at least 75% of the costs of medical care (the patient must not be required to pay more than 25%).
  • Payment for repatriation of remains (in case of death) in the amount $7,500.
  • Payment for medical evacuation to home country in the amount of $10,000.
  • Coverage of activities inherent to the Exchange Visitor Program.

To comply with these regulations, insurance policies must be underwritten by corporations having one of the following ratings:

  • A.M. Best rating of “A-” or above
  • Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. rating of “A-i” or above
  • Standard and Poor’s claims-paying ability rating of “A-” or above
  • Weiss Research Inc. rating of “B+” or above

An exchange-visitor who willfully fails to maintain the insurance coverage, or makes a material misrepresentation to Boston College concerning such coverage, will be in violation or his/her immigration status and subject to termination as a J-1.


A) If you are paid by Boston College and…

1) are a full-time faculty member with an academic appointment of at least one semester, or

2) are a full-time researcher or scholar with an academic appointment of at least one semester, or a part-time (at least 20 hours a week) researcher or scholar with an appointment of at least one academic year then you are eligible to enroll in a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) through the Boston College group plan which will provide you with health services and insurance. You can obtain information on HMO’s from the Boston College Benefits Office at (617) 552-3329

However, in order to meet all of the United States Information Agency’s provisions, as are outlined, you ALSO need to enroll in an additional insurance plan which covers repatriation of remains and medical evacuation to your home country.

Two insurance companies which offer policies just for repatriation and medical evacuation are:

Harbour Group, L.L.C.
Toll free in the U.S. 1(800) 252 8160 or (937) 748 5200

International Educational Exchange Services (choose the “Smart Plan”)
Toll free in the U.S. 1 866 433 7462 or 607 272 2707
Fax 607 272 2703

International SOS Assistance, Inc.
In the U.S. toll free: (800) 523 2930 or Tel: (215) 244-2227

B) If you are not being paid by Boston College, or do not qualify to enroll in a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), then you must enroll in an insurance plan which meets all of the United States Information Agency’s provisions and rating requirements as are outlined. Several insurance companies with policies that fulfill these requirements are:

(note: Often you will need to choose individual student plans even if you are a scholar)

HTH Worldwide
In the U.S. toll free: (866) 281-1668 or (610) 254-8700
Fax (610) 254-8797

Harbour Group, L.L.C.
Toll free in the U.S. (800) 252 8160 or (937) 748 5200

International Educational Exchange Services (choose the “Passport Plan”)
Toll free in the U.S. (866) 433 7462 or (607) 272 2707
Fax: (607) 272 2703

International Student Organization (must be an ISO member)
In the U.S. toll free: (800) 244 1180
Fax: (212) 262 8920

J-1 Exchange Visitor Students
The Boston College Health insurance plan, administered through Koster Insurance Company, meets the minimum health insurance requirements. All students will be enrolled and billed automatically for the Boston College medical insurance at the time of registration. Students with spouses and/or children must complete a dependent enrollment plan (available from University Health Services or through Koster Insurance Company) in order to obtain coverage for their family members. (See “Responsibilities of International Students” for more information.)

You can come to the OISS to obtain informational brochures for some of the insurance companies listed above.  The same information can also be found on the company’s website. While you are not required to choose any of these plans, they do meet all of the USIA’s minimum criteria. If you have your own insurance coverage, please consult the company from whom you have purchased the policy to determine if it meets all of the provisions and rating requirements that are outlined in Section I “regulations” on the first page. Insurance backed by the full faith and credit of the exchange-visitor’s government meets the rating requirement. Please be aware that OISS is not able to advise you on which health plan to choose or on the qualification of another health insurance policy.



Connors Family Learning Center

O'Neil Library 2nd Floor
Monday-Thursday 10AM-9PM, Friday 10AM-3PM, Sunday 12PM-8PM
Appointments: Visit the front desk or call (617) 552-0611

The Connors Family Learning Center provides tutoring in over 60 subjects including the following assistance for English Language Learners:

  • Speaking assistance:  Students meet with tutors to practice English for an hour in a casual situation with a supportive conversation partner.

  • Faculty and Teaching Assistant/Teaching Fellow support: Class visits, orientation, and seminars.

  • Lunch Seminars: Graduate student lunch seminars are held on teaching and professional life. The CFLC also co-sponsors the Graduate International Lunch Discussion Series.

  • Undergraduate Guides Program (for Chemistry TAs): This program pairs international TAs in the Chemistry department with undergraduate Chemistry majors to help with any language problems that arise. The undergraduate guides also meet with the graduate students for one hour a week outside of lab to answer any questions. 


Boston College Language Laboratory

Lyons Hall, Room 313
Monday-Thursday 8AM–10PM, Friday 8AM–5PM, Sunday 1PM– 9PM
Holidays and vacation periods:  Hours to be posted.
  • The Boston College Language Laboratory serves the language learning and teaching needs of the University's language departments as well as students of English as a Foreign Language, and the BC community at large. The facility provides access to installed and portable equipment to be used with audio, video, cable television and multimedia language learning tools. It also boasts an extensive catalog of resources in more than 17 languages, including English as a Foreign Language, to facilitate language learning and teaching as well as to promote cultural awareness.
  • Among the Lab’s English resources are media programs that focus on (1) pronunciation and speaking, (2) improving one’s use of English in business/workplace situations, (3) understanding and using English grammar.  Resources to develop reading and listening comprehension skills are also available and include a collection of feature-length international films with English audio tracks and/or English subtitles.  Please consult the Lab’s online Catalog of English Resources for a description of programs available for use within the lab facility in Lyons 313, upon presentation of a valid Boston College ID. The Langauge Lab also has on-line tutoring and resources 


For more information, please contact Cynthia Bravo, Director, BC Language Laboratory: or 617-552-8473


International Graduate Student Lunch Discussion Series

Connors Family Learning Center, 2nd Floor O’Neil Library
Fridays 1-2PM during the academic year.
Lunch is provided, RSVP required.
Topics are sent from the OISS graduate international student listserv each week.
  • The Connors Family Learning Center, OISS and Graduate Student Life sponsor weekly discussion groups to give international graduate students the opportunity to share lunch together and engage in discussion about a variety topics regarding US and BC culture. This is a great opportunity to meet fellow graduate students and practice your English in a friendly environment.


Conversations Partners Program

  • The Office of International Students and Scholar is piloting a Coversations Partners Program in spring 2010.  The program matches graduate international students with native English speaking members of the BC community as a way for international students to practice conversational English once per week.  Please contact the OISS at 617 552 8005 or for more information.


Undergraduate English Courses

  • The English Department offers two undergraduate courses sfor English Language Learners:
    EN009:  First Year Writing Seminar for English Language Learners
    Satisfies Writing Core (Fall/Spring:3 credits)
    EN 079: Literary Forms for English Language Learners 
    Satisfies Literature Core (Spring: 3 creidts)
    Course enrollment is by special placement only and is only offered to undergraduate students. For more information contact Mary Crane in the English Department.


Graduate English Courses  

  • EN70001 English Language Training for Grad Level Students (Spring:0 credits)
    Department permission only
    This course focuses on academic writing skills that are necessary for graduate-level courses.  Students will read and respond to selected literary essays.  Students will gain practice in the writing of academic essays and exposure to English rhetoric, with emphasis on written analysis and the logical support of ideas. Attention to skills such as paraphrase, summary, critical synthesis, and argument will be explored in class. Grammar is taught in the context of the readings and student-generated writing. 


Contact the OISS for more information at 617 552 8005 or