Graduate and Undergraduate Students
Welcome to Bentley! As an accepted student to Bentley University, the Center for International Students and Scholars will work with you to create your Form I-20 or DS-2019 documents, which verify that you are an international student or exchange visitor and begins the process of obtaining your F-1 or J-1 visa to enter the United States.
Note: If you are a Canadian citizen, you do not need to apply for the F or J visa; however, you must follow the rest of the procedures and enter the United States with a valid Form I-20 or DS 2019 as listed below.
Obtaining your F-1 or J-1 Visa
- Once you have been admitted to Bentley and submitted your deposit, the Graduate or Undergraduate Admission Office or the Cronin Office of International Education will forward the paperwork to us so we may issue a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigration (F-1) Student, or a DS-2019. We will send you the I-20 or DS-2019 to you as soon as possible to allow you time to obtain an F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor visa. Please allow three weeks to process and complete the I-20 and DS-2019 forms.
- Once you receive your Form I-20 or DS-2019, you must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee online ($200 for F-1 students; $180 for J-1 students) using the SEVIS number and school code listed on your Form I-20 or DS-2019. Most students can pay the fee by credit card at FMJFee.com. However, if your country of citizenship is Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria or Gambia, you must pay by money order, Western Union Quick Pay, or a certified check drawn on a U.S. financial institution. After paying the fee, you must print the I-901 confirmation page (available immediately if paid by credit card) to use as your receipt and proof of payment to bring to your visa appointment.
- Schedule a visa appointment. Citizens of all countries except Canada are required to possess a valid visa to enter the U.S. You will complete the visa application with your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. It is strongly recommended that you review the website of the consular post to learn about their specific visa application procedures and document requirements, as they can vary slightly depending on the post. Most consular posts will process an application a maximum of 120 days prior to the start date of your program. Please keep in mind that it may take a few weeks to schedule an appointment.
- Go to your visa appointment. At your appointment, you will present to the consular officer the SEVIS fee (I-901) receipt, all pages of your Form I-20 or DS-2019, the original financial documents you submitted to Bentley with your application, a DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application, and your valid passport, as well as any other requirements listed by the consular post. Generally, appointments consist of a personal interview and the collection of fingerprints. Before your interview, practice answering questions in English about your visa application, your plans to study in the US, and your plans after you return home. If your spouse and children will remain in your country, be prepared to explain how they will support themselves without you sending them money from the US. Be positive and respond to questions with clear, concise answers.
- Once you have received the F-1 or J-1 visa stamp on your passport, pick up your passport at the U.S. consulate in your home country.
- Plan to arrive in the United States no more than 30 days prior to the start of your academic program as listed on your Form I-20 or DS-2019. Before arriving at a U.S. airport or border facility, be sure to have your passport/F-1 or J-1 visa and your original Form I-20 or DS-2019. Carry these documents on your person and NOT in your checked luggage. You will show your documents at the port of entry. An immigration officer will review these documents and return them to you.
*Canadian citizens entering the United States with a valid Canadian passport do not require a visa, but still must present a valid Form I-20 at the port of entry and must pay the SEVIS fee.
SEVIS (Immigration) Transfer Students
If you are coming to Bentley from another U.S. high school or university and are transferring your immigration record to Bentley, you are considered a SEVIS transfer student. You may be a SEVIS transfer student if you are:
- Currently in the United States and studying at a U.S. institution and are planning on changing schools.
- Have completed a program at a U.S. institution and will begin a new program at Bentley in the spring, summer, or fall semesters.
- Have attended a U.S. institution or completed a program in the United States and are currently outside the country, but plan on re-entering to attend Bentley.
- Have completed a program and are currently pursuing Optional Practical Training (OPT) in the United States, but will start a new degree program at Bentley.
How does the process work?
- The immigration transfer process must be initiated while your SEVIS record is active, or within the 60 day grace period following completion of your program or Optional Practical Training.
- During the admissions process, you will fill out a transfer form with an advisor at the school listed on your current I-20.
- Once the transfer date has passed, the Center for International Students and Scholars will receive the transfer and create a "transfer pending" Form I-20 for you, which you will use between programs.
What happens next?
- Prior to your arrival on campus, you will receive information about the mandatory orientation and immigration check-in process.
- Check your I-20 packet that you received for information on the date and time of the check-in.
- Upon reporting, you must bring your passport and all U.S. immigration documents, such as forms I-20, DS-2019, I-797, if applicable.
- This check-in process is mandated by U.S. federal immigration law, so make your travel plans accordingly. Note: Transfer students must check in within 15 days of your program start date.
- Once you have checked in and have been registered, you will receive a new Form I-20. Note: You do not need a new F-1 visa if you are transferring your immigration record and plan to stay within the U.S., even if your F-1 visa is expired. However, If you will travel internationally and have an expired F-1 visa, you must renew your visa to be able to re-enter the country.
Changing Your Immigration Status
Certain non-immigrant categories other than F-1 allow for part or full time study in the U.S. However, if you are currently in the U.S. in a nonimmigrant status (B1/B2, F2, H1B or H4), and would like to change to F-1 or J-1 status, you have two options:
Travel outside of the U.S. and follow all of the above listed steps to obtain an F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy abroad. You will re-enter the U.S. using your new visa and Form I-20/DS-2019.
change of status from within the U.S.
You may apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change your status without leaving the U.S. by completing a form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status and sending supporting documents. This process can take between 3 and 6 months, and you should not travel while the application is pending. For certain statuses (e.g., B1/B2), change of status from within the U.S. is less likely to be approved. If your application is approved, you will be in your new status and can remain in the U.S. in this status. However, once you travel outside the U.S., you will need to apply for a new visa stamp in order to re-enter.
For more information on change of status procedures, please contact GA_CISS@bentley.edu
Arriving at Bentley
Mandatory Immigration Check-In
Prior to your arrival on campus, you will receive information about the mandatory orientation and immigration check-in process. Check your I-20 packet that you received for information on the date and time of the check-in.
Upon reporting, you must bring your passport and all U.S. immigration documents, such as forms I-20, DS-2019, I-797, if applicable. This check-in process is mandated by U.S. federal immigration law, so make your travel plans accordingly.
New student and transfer orientation (undergraduate)
All students must complete Online Orientation through their My Bentley portal over the summer prior to coming to Bentley. Both New Student and Transfer Undergraduate Orientation take place from Wednesday, August 24th to Sunday, August 28th. On Wednesday, August 24th new and transfer undergraduate students must check in with all appropriate documents at the CISS office on the 3rd Floor of the Student Center Building, Suite 310. You can find out more information about what to expect from Orientation by visiting their website HERE. You may also refer to your Transition Guide.
Graduate student orientation
Graduate Student Orientation is planned by Graduate Student and Academic Services. Click HERE to visit their website and learn more.
New graduate students may also wish to learn more about the opportunities available through Bentley's English Language and American Culture Institute.
Health Insurance and Vaccination Requirements
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires that all students have appropriate health insurance coverage. Since most U.S. medical institutions will not accept non-U.S. insurance for payment, international students are required to purchase Bentley Student Health Insurance to comply with state law. (The insurance fee will be included on your invoice from Bentley.)
The state also requires that all students be fully immunized against various diseases. To verify compliance with state law, you must provide the Center for Health and Wellness with a completed Medical History Form and immunization certificate signed by a medical doctor before the start of classes. Additional information about health requirements is available through the center. Information will also be available in your MyBentley account.
The Residential Center will inform you of the day on which you may move into your residence hall. Do not forget to complete all of the required paperwork indicated in your MyBentley account. Residential Center staff are available to answer any questions. Please note that first-year resident students are not allowed to register automobiles on campus during their first year of study.
Please contact GA_Housing@bentley.edu with any on-campus housing related questions.
Waltham, Massachusetts is a beautiful town just west of Boston. Waltham has a number of popular apartment complexes as well as privately owned apartments and other housing throughout the town. Waltham is also surrounded by the towns of Belmont, Newton, Arlington and Watertown which are also options for living.
Popular apartment complexes close to campus include:
976 Lexington Street
25 Crescent Street
Finding a place to live off-campus can be very challenging for any new student. Make sure to be a smart consumer! When renting a room or apartment, we recommend you:
- Let landlords and real estate agents know what type of rental units you are looking for (such as studio or one-bedroom; furnished or unfurnished).
- Do not rent a place that you have not seen.
- Have any repairs or maintenance work agreed to in writing by the landlord before you sign a lease.
- Be prepared to sign a lease (binding rental agreement) for one year.
- Be prepared to pay first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a security deposit for your room or apartment before you are permitted to move in.
Students are advised to use all resources available to them when choosing a place to live. Some popular rental websites are listed below:
Please contact an advisor in CISS if you have further questions about finding a place to live.
Bentley University is not responsible or liable for any off-campus student housing arrangements. Furthermore, neither Bentley University nor the CISS staff endorse the above apartment complexes or apartment-finder websites. Bentley University does not inspect the premises of any off-campus housing locations nor does it assume responsibility for contracts/leases or other housing arrangements between individuals.