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.
July 7, 2020 Update: The Department of Homeland Security has issued new immigration guidance on in-person and online study for fall 2020 that affects students with F1 visas. We are analyzing how this will affect our international students and will provide an update as soon as we can. Please read our full statement on this below.
Dear international students,
As many of you have heard, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently issued immigration guidance on in-person and online study for international students for fall 2020. This new guidance, which is specific to the fall 2020 term, affects new and continuing F1 students and differs greatly from previous SEVP exemptions of certain F1 regulations issued for the spring and summer 2020.
Our international students are an important and valued part of the Bentley community. Applying this newly released guidance to the Back to Bentley Fall 2020 plan will require detailed analysis and compilation of information from Bentley, our national associations and peer institutions. CISS and university leadership are focused on providing timely and accurate information and will provide details as soon as possible.
As of now, there are two things we can confirm:
- Students are permitted to enroll in Bentley courses online from outside the U.S. We do not yet know the impact on your immigration status, but courses WILL be available for online enrollment regardless of immigration impact.
- If you plan to return to Bentley, we anticipate our hybrid format will allow enough options for in-person instruction to provide international students a way to maintain F1 status. We will update you on our progress no later than July 13 if not before.
Thank you for your patience as we work to interpret what this means for our valued international student community. The pandemic hasn’t gone away and we know that all of our community including our international students need support in this uncertain time. We will provide updates as further Bentley-specific guidance becomes available.
Center for International Students and Scholars
CISS is operating and conducting all business remotely. We are still working and providing all regular services, however all correspondence is now conducted via phone and email instead of in-person.
Please note that during the summer we are open Monday - Thursday, through mid-August.
New international students FAQ
Does Bentley University know when the U.S. Consulates and Embassies will begin processing student visa applications?
Many U.S. consular posts have suspended routine visa processing temporarily during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, we do not know when U.S. Embassies and Consulate posts will resume processing student visas. However, CISS will continue to issue and send I-20s to admitted students so you can be prepared to initiate your visa application as soon as the consular posts reopen. We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you apprised of any developments. You should check your embassy or consulate’s website frequently for appointment availability.
What are the travel restrictions for entering the U.S.?
As travel restrictions change frequently, we recommend checking the NAFSA COVID-19 travel site for the most up-to-date information affecting international student travel.
Will I need to quarantine after arriving in the U.S.?
Please reference the Bentley Health Center FAQs for the most up-to-date information regarding the need to quarantine upon arrival. If needed, Bentley is prepared to provide space for residential students to quarantine on campus for their first few weeks of the semester.
Can I study online in the fall? What happens to my immigration status if I am studying online or in a hybrid format for fall 2020?
Students may opt to study online in the fall trimester from outside the U.S. We will assist you with your immigration status as necessary for your individual situation. We are continuing to issue I-20s for the fall 2020 trimester so that you may plan to join us on campus for classes, which would activate your F1 status. However, if you are unable to secure a student visa in time to begin the fall trimester in the U.S., you can register and begin classes remotely and make arrangements to obtain new immigration documentation that will enable to you to begin your F1 status the following trimester.
How will studying online or in a hybrid format during fall 2020 affect my OPT or CPT eligibility next summer?
While the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offered significant regulatory and SEVIS record-keeping flexibility for the spring and summer of 2020, we have not yet received guidance for the fall 2020 trimester so we are not sure how the online/hybrid format will impact SEVIS records or eligibility for future benefits of status. Please see our web pages on OPT and CPT eligibility to understand current eligibility requirements.
Returning international students FAQ
What happens if I’m not returning to campus in the fall? How does that impact my immigration status?
- If you don’t take any classes or if you take less than a full load of credits, you will need to take a Leave of Absence. Because you will be on leave, your immigration status will be terminated and we will provide documentation so you can begin again in initial status when you return. The accrual of your one year of eligibility for CPT and OPT would begin again upon your return.
- You can take a full load of courses remotely. In this case, we may be able to maintain your status (depending on fall SEVP guidance). While the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offered significant regulatory and SEVIS record-keeping flexibility for the spring and summer of 2020, we have not yet received guidance for the fall 2020 trimester so we are not sure how the online/hybrid format will impact SEVIS records or eligibility for future benefits of status.
How does this situation impact my work authorization?
We have compiled a comprehensive document to answer many of the questions surrounding OPT and CPT during COVID-19.
Will I need to quarantine after arriving in the U.S?
Please reference the Bentley Health Center FAQs for the most up-to-date information regarding the need to quarantine upon arrival. If needed, Bentley is prepared to provide space for residential students to quarantine on campus.
Will I be allowed to take online/hybrid courses if I return to campus in the fall? Will there be an exception to the “in person” requirement for my F1 status?
While the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offered significant regulatory and SEVIS record-keeping flexibility for the spring and summer of 2020, we have not yet received guidance for the fall 2020 trimester so we are not sure how these class formats will impact SEVIS records or eligibility for future benefits of status.
How does the change to trimesters affect international students?
The move to trimesters allows students to take a full load of courses during the summer, if desired. You are not required to take classes during summer as it is optional. The summer trimester is still considered the “annual vacation” period for F1F-1 international students and does not count toward the two semester requirement for CPT or OPT eligibility. International F1F-1 students must still take a full load of courses in both the fall and spring trimesters.
How will studying online or in a hybrid format during fall 2020 affect my OPT or CPT eligibility next summer?
While the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offered significant regulatory and SEVIS record-keeping flexibility for the spring and summer of 2020, we have not yet received guidance for the fall 2020 semester so we are not sure how the online/hybrid format will impact SEVIS records or eligibility for future benefits of status. Please see our web pages on OPT and CPT eligibility to understand current eligibility requirements.
What if I’m trying to leave the U.S. and am having difficulty getting a flight?
Check with your consulate or embassy in the U.S. – they may be able to assist you. We recommend keeping detailed documentation of your efforts to depart the United States in a timely manner. This may include e-mails, texts and copies of any correspondence you have had with your airline. If you stay beyond the end of your grace period or accumulate too much unemployment time while on OPT, this documentation may be useful to show that you made every effort to depart the United States, but circumstances beyond your control prevented you from doing so in a timely manner.
To obtain an updated travel signature, you will need to request a new I-20 and we will print a new I-20 with valid signature and mail it to you.
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 include in the email content: a complete U.S. address, including zip code, of where we can mail your OPT I-20 once processed. If you prefer to collect your documents in person, we can leave them for you at the University Police station (please indicate this preference in your email).
- 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.
- While we will continue to accept completed electronic CPT applications for the summer 2020 term, please note that the CISS generally waits for April course registration to begin processing these applications. We ask for your patience and cooperation as we prioritize time-sensitive applications. 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].
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.
CISS is continuing to process I-20s for incoming Bentley students.
We will be corresponding with new students regularly via e-mail and encourage you to check with your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate for updates about scheduling visa appointments. Any inquiries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond as soon as possible during our business hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm EST.
- CISS will offer twice daily Zoom virtual advising options. This zoom link will allow you to speak "face to face" with a CISS advisor for a quick 5-10 minute conversation during the following times:
- Monday -- Thursday 9am-10am (EST)
- Monday -- Thursday 2pm-3pm (EST)
- As always, we are also available for advising questions via email at GA_CISS@bentley.edu
- CISS is open and responding to phone (+1.781.891.2829) and email inquiries (GA_CISS@bentley.edu).
- When remote classes begin on March 23rd, you will maintain your F-1 status as long as you follow your online course work.
- Because courses will remain online for the rest of the semester, you can continue to complete your course requirements remotely for the entire Spring 2020 semester.
- Bentley is closely monitoring travel restriction updates as well as updates related to COVID-19 and will notify students as the situation progresses. Bentley's updates will all be posted at bentley.edu/coronavirus.
- Important information for students (including a dedicated section for international students) is available at the Student FAQ page.
F1 Undergraduate Students
F1 Graduate Students