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Center for International Students and Scholars (CISS)

Center for International Students and Scholars (CISS)

Helping international students and their families feel welcome

Bentley University offers a warm and inviting community for international students to learn, grow professionally, and engage with the world.

The Center for International Students and Scholars (CISS) offers resources for international students and promotes interactions between domestic and international students. CISS makes it possible for all Bentley students to gain both a global perspective and a broadened world view.

              CISS operations

              The CISS office is open in the Student Center Suite 310. We are accepting drop-ins visits during our in-person advising hours. Please see below for more details about out advising schedule. You may contact us by phone, email, in-person and zoom.

              Fall 2021 New International Student FAQs

              Do I need to take a full course load?  

              Yes, new students wishing to maintain F-1 status must remain enrolled in a full course load. This means 12 credits for undergraduate students and 9 credits for graduate students.  Exceptions to this rule include students with pre-authorized reduced course loads and special student relief, and students in their final semester completing all remaining degree requirements. If you have remaining questions about your ability to take a full time course load, please contact the CISS at GA_CISS@bentley.edu

              New students studying outside of the U.S. without maintaining F-1 status are not required to follow full-course load requirements (see below section entitled: “Can I choose to take a completely online course load from my home country?”)

              Can I take online or hybrid classes?  

              According to updated guidance from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, to begin your F-1 status, new students must have an in-person component to their program of study. This means that if you are entering the U.S. for the first time for the Fall 2021 semester, you must be enrolled in at least one in-person course or a hybrid course with in-person options or components. Students enrolled in hybrid courses with optional in-person class sessions should track their in-person attendance using an Attendance Verification Form. If you have not yet registered for an in-person or hybrid course, you should update your schedule and contact Academic Advising for assistance. 

              Can I take a completely online course load from the U.S. or my home country?  

              While you may be able to take a completely online course load, new students will not be eligible to begin their F-1 status or enter the U.S. while taking an online course load. If you choose to take a completely online course load from your home country, you should contact the CISS at GA_CISS@bentley.edu so that we can defer your I-20 / F-1 status start date to a future semester. Please note that your 12 month eligibility requirement for off campus work benefits (OPT/CPT) will not begin until you enter the U.S. in F-1 status. Please see our web pages on OPT and CPT eligibility to understand current eligibility requirements. 

              *Online course availability may vary by graduate/undergraduate program. You should check with Academic Advising to confirm course online course availability based on your program of study.  

              *Please note that SEVIS transfer students and Change of Educational Level (e.g. Bachelors to Masters) students must be in the U.S. by September 7th, 2021  for your new F-1 program to be registered, but may be eligible for remote study within the U.S.  based on your status in March 2020. Please see below section in Fall 2021 Returning F-1 Student FAQ, “Can I take fully online classes?”) 

              When is the latest date I can enter the U.S.?  

              All new students, including SEVIS transfers and new educational level students wishing to start their F-1 status must enter the U.S. before September 7, 2021 for CISS to register your F-1 record. However, we highly encourage all students to arrive before this date to get settled and attend orientation. If you are unable to attend orientation, including CISS’ mandatory immigration session, you must contact GA_CISS@bentley.edu for a recording of this important information.  

              Fall 2021 Returning F-1 International Student FAQs

              Can I take fully online classes?

              If you already have active F-1 status / are a continuing F-1 student, you may or may not be eligible to take a fully online course load, depending on your F-1 status at the beginning of the COVID-19 national emergency in March 2020:  

              • If you were in the U.S. in F-1 status on March 9, 2020, (including SEVIS transfer students and students in previous degree programs) and have maintained continuous F-1 status since: Yes, updated guidance from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program states that students maintaining continuous F-1 status since March 2020 can maintain F-1 status whether enrolled in a full online, hybrid, or in-person course of study. *Please note that SEVIS transfer students and Change of Educational Level students must be physically in the U.S. to have your new F-1 program registered (see below section entitled “As a returning student maintaining F-1 status, when must I re-enter the U.S.?”)  
              • If you were not in the U.S. in F-1 status on March 9, 2020 (including students who began F-1 status on or after Fall 2020): Updated guidance from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program states that you cannot take an entirely online course of study. This means that you must be enrolled in at least one in-person course or a hybrid course with in-person options or components. Students enrolled in hybrid courses with optional in-person class sessions should track their in-person attendance using an Attendance Verification Form.  If you have not yet registered for an in-person or hybrid course, you should update your schedule and contact Academic Advising for assistance. 

              Can I study remotely from my home country?  

              Yes, depending on online/hybrid course availability, you may be able to study remotely from your home country or another non-campus location. However, studying remotely may affect your F-1 status:  

              • If you were in the U.S. in F-1 status on March 9, 2020 (including SEVIS transfer students and students in previous degree programs) and have maintained continuous F-1 status since: You will maintain your F-1 status regardless of whether you are taking your classes from inside or outside of the United States.  This also means that you will continue to accrue eligibility towards CPT/OPT. You must remain enrolled in a full-time course load (see below). 
              • If you were not in the U.S. in F-1 status on March 9, 2020 (including students who began F-1 status on or after Fall 2020): While you may be able to take online classes from outside of the U.S. depending on online/hybrid course availability, you will not maintain F-1 status. If you plan to pursue an online course of study, you must notify the CISS at GA_CISS@bentley.edu so that we can terminate your F-1 record. This means you will need to apply for a new initial I-20 with a new SEVIS number to return to the U.S./Bentley University for a future semester, and your one academic year requirement for CPT/OPT will start over from the date on your new I-20.  

              Do I need to take a full course load?  

              Yes, continuing students wishing to maintain F-1 status must remain enrolled in a full course load. This means 12 credits for undergraduate students and 9 credits for graduate students.  Exceptions to this rule include students with pre-authorized reduced course loads and special student relief, and students in their final semester completing all remaining degree requirements. If you have remaining questions about your ability to take a full-time course load, please contact the CISS at GA_CISS@bentley.edu

              • Students studying outside of the U.S. without maintaining F-1 status are not required to follow full-course load requirements. However, you must contact the CISS so that we are aware of your plans and can terminate your F-1 status accordingly.
              • If you choose not to take any classes, you will need to take a Leave of Absence and must remain outside of the U.S. Email loa@bentley.edu for Leave of Absence procedures. As previously mentioned, your F-1 status will be terminated, and you will need to obtain a new I-20 and F-1 visa to return for a future semester. The accrual of your one academic year eligibility requirement  for CPT ad OPT will start over when you return to Bentley. (See previous section entitled “As a returning F-1 student, can I study remotely from my home country?”) 

              When must I re-enter the U.S.? 

              Classes begin on September 7th, 2021. Students beginning new F-1 programs or starting a new degree program, including SEVIS-transfers and students changing educational level (e.g. Bachelors to Masters degree) must arrive by this date so that the CISS can register your new F-1 record. For all other continuing students, your hybrid/in-person class schedule may determine when you need to be on Bentley’s campus (see previous section entitled “As a returning F-1 student, can I study remotely from my home country?")  

              How should I list my local address in Workday if I am studying remotely from outside of the U.S.?  

              You will still need to list a local (U.S.) address by the start of the fall semester, regardless of whether you are studying full time or part time remotely. If you are a continuing student who will study outside of the U.S., please enter your local address in Workday as follows:   

              175 Forest Street 
              COVID-19 Remote 
              Waltham, MA 02452   

              *Please see previous section entitled “Can I study remotely from my home country?” for more information. 

              Are there any changes to OPT/CPT/On-Campus Employment Eligibility and Requirements?

              You will accrue eligibility towards CPT and OPT during Fall 2021 as long as you maintain F-1 status by taking a full-time course load and adhere to any in-person vs. online course restrictions and requirements as determined by your status in Mach 2020.  

              Based on SEVP guidance, we have also compiled a comprehensive document to answer many of the questions surrounding OPT and CPT during COVID-19, including information on remote work and furloughs. 

              There have been recent changes in eligibility for Special Student Relief and associated employment benefits for Syrian, Burmese, and Venezuelan nationals. Please contact GA_CISS@bentley.edu if you would like further information about this program. 

              Visa, Travel, and Vaccination Requirements for New & Returning Students

              When will Consulates and Embassies re-open? 

              Many U.S. consular posts suspended routine visa processing temporarily during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the CISS does not have detailed information about when individual U.S. embassies and consular posts will resume processing student visas. CISS will continue to issue and send I-20s to admitted students so that you are prepared to initiate your visa application as soon as the consular posts reopen. You should check your embassy or consulate’s website frequently for appointment availability. 

              What are the current travel restrictions for entering the U.S.? 

              There are still restrictions for entering the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, National Interest Exceptions are currently in place for F-1/ J-1 students, which eliminates certain travel restrictions and country-specific quarantine requirements. This means that if you hold a valid I-20 and F-1 visa, you may be eligible to enter the U.S. Please note that you may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the “program start date” listed on page one of your Form I-20. For most students, the earliest possible date of entry is August 1, 2021.  

              What are the current quarantine, testing, and vaccination requirements?  

              U.S. Requirements: The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires all air passengers entering the United States (including U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents) to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three calendar days of departure or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days. Airlines must confirm the negative test result or proof of recovery for all passengers two years of age and over prior to boarding. Airlines must deny boarding of passengers who do not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery. The CDC provides detailed information on travel requirements and post-travel precautions for both vaccinated and unvaccinated international travelers. [updated 6/15/2021] 

              Local/State Requirements: Each state or even city may have their own requirements for domestic and international travel. You can find state and local requirements, including Massachusetts specific information by using the CDC’s travel planner tool

              Bentley University Requirements: You can find Bentley’s updated information on testing, vaccination, and quarantine requirements on the Back to Bentley website. Please check the website and your Bentley email regularly for important updates as more information becomes available. 

              Travel New I-20s and Travel Signatures

              The government currently allows us to distribute I-20s electronically for certain purposes. To obtain an updated I-20 or travel signature, you will need to request a new I-20 on our website Depending on the issuance reason, we may either mail you the new I-20, or will share it with you in electronic format.

              OPT and STEM Extension (Send OPT Applications via email to CISS for review)

              Fall 2020 graduate application window: Current until February 16th, 2021

              Spring 2021 graduate application window: January 30th until June 29th 2021

              Note: You may submit to the CISS for review as early as 1-2 weeks before the start of the application window.

               

              To submit documents to the CISS:

              • Please refer to the OPT section of our website for a list of documents and downloadable forms: https://www.bentley.edu/offices/center-international-student-scholars/optional-practical-training
              • Scan and email documents in a single email to GA_CISS@bentley.edu. When possible, please send in the form of a single, compact PDF document. Note that incomplete applications will not be accepted. You may omit photocopies of previously-issued I-20s.
                • Please include in the email subject line: [OPT/STEM OPT Application ] -- [Your Name and Bentley ID]
              • Please allow up to 7-10 business days for review and issuance of an OPT-recommendation I-20. Bentley CISS is working diligently to continue to provide services during this period, and we appreciate your patience and cooperation. Once processed, we will notify you of corrections and mailing instructions via email, and inform you of the mailing status of your I-20.

               

              FAQs related to Employment for F-1 students during COVID

              Filing OPT Applications Online

              On April 12, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that F-1 students applying for F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) or F-1 STEM Optional Practical Training Extension (STEM OPT), using Form I-765, can file online. Applications can also continue to be filed by mail. To read the full USCIS announcement, click here.     

              Despite this new change, CISS advises students to continue to submit OPT applications to CISS for review, and then to file your PAPER applications by mail to USCIS. Once CISS has more details about the online filing process, we will share this information with students. 

              Information for F-1 visa holders on Optional Practical Training (OPT) or STEM Optional Practical Training (STEM OPT) is available on the CISS Optional Practical Training webpage.
               

              CPT Applications will be accepted electronically only

              Spring 2021 CPT Dates: January 19th, 2021 – April 30th 2021

              Summer 2021 CPT Dates: May 17th 2021 – August 20th 2021

              Fall 2021 CPT Dates: September 7th 2021 – December 17th 2021

              *Graduate students: If summer is your final semester, please contact CISS so that we can advise you on your I-20 end date/OPT application window.   

              • General CPT information can be found here on our website: https://www.bentley.edu/offices/center-international-student-scholars/curricular-practical-training
              • Please email completed CPT application forms and accompanying offer letters in a single email (PDF form attachments)  to GA_CISS@bentley.edu with subject line: [CPT Application] -- [Your Name and Bentley ID].
                 
              EAD cards and I-797 receipt notices

              The Bentley mail room will continue to function and will alert CISS when these documents arrive. We will contact individual students to arrange for mailing or pickup as documents are received.

              Advising Info & Additional FAQs
              • Virtual Advising: Use this zoom link to speak with a CISS advisor on Zoom for 5-10 minutes
                • Mondays
                  • 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. (EDT)
                • Thursdays
                  • 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. (EDT)
                  • 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (EDT)
              • In-person Advising (visit the Student Center 310)
                • Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Fridays
                  • 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (EDT)
              • As always, we are also available for advising questions via email at GA_CISS@bentley.edu  
              • Bentley is closely monitoring travel restriction updates as well as updates related to COVID-19 and will continue to notify students as updates become available. Bentley's updates will all be posted at bentley.edu/coronavirus.
              • Important vaccine information for students is available on the Back to Bentley website

              Connections Beyond Borders

              Connections Beyond Borders connects international students with students, staff and faculty who are from the US. The pairs meet regularly for conversation or to attend University programs and events.

              Learn More

              CultureFest

              Each Fall, Bentley celebrates the rich cultural fabric of our University through a week-long celebration. CultureFest includes activities, food, music and presentations all around campus.

              Learn More

              WorldView

              Graduate international students educate the Bentley community about their home country, culture, and traditions through the WorldView program. The goal is to increase awareness and intercultural sensitivity for everyone by encouraging dialogue and global citizenship.

              Learn More

              711

              F1 Undergraduate Students

              569

              F1 Graduate Students

              97

              J1 Exchange Students

              CISS Staff

              Contact Us

              Student Center, Room 310

              • Office Hours: Monday - Thursday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
                • Virtual Advising: Use this zoom link to speak with a CISS advisor on Zoom for 5-10 minutes:
                  • Mondays
                    • 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. (EDT)
                  • Thursdays
                    • 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. (EDT)
                    • 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (EDT)
                • In-person Advising (visit the Student Center 310)
                  • Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Fridays
                    • 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (EDT)

              Phone: 781-891-2829 | Fax: 781-891-2845 | Email: ga_ciss@bentley.edu