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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

              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.

              Returning to Campus - Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

              New international students FAQ

              Do I need to take a full course load? And can I take online or hybrid classes?New students entering the U.S. in F-1 status must register in at least one hybrid course (if you have not registered for a hybrid course yet, you will be able to update your fall schedule and can contact Academic Advising for assistance). This rule does not apply to you if:   

              1. You are a new student who will study outside the U.S. during the fall term;   
              1. You were in the U.S. in F-1 status on March 9, 2020 (this includes transfer students and students who were in F-1 status in another degree program last spring)   

              When is the latest date I can enter the U.S.?
              New students must enter the U.S. before September 28, 2020 for CISS to register your F-1 record.

              If you were not able to arrive in time to attend our mandatory immigration session, please view a recording of the session here.

              Can I study online in the fall from outside the U.S.? What happens to my immigration status?
              If you are a new student at Bentley for the fall 2020 trimester, you may choose to begin your studies online from your home country. While you may begin your degree online outside of the United States, F-1 visa holders with “initial” I-20s will not hold F-1 visa status during this time (this does not apply to continuing students, SEVIS transfers or students with Change of Educational Level I-20s). CISS will defer your I-20 start date to January 2021, and you will begin in F-1 status when you arrive in the U.S. for the Spring 2021 trimester. 

              If you are a SEVIS transfer student (you have been in F1 status in the US previously and have arranged to transfer your SEVIS record) you will receive further communication from CISS at a later date. We are currently reviewing the recent guidance to determine the possibility of keeping your transferred F-1 record active.

              Please note that 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 contact the CISS to obtain a deferred I-20 as detailed above.

              Can new students come to Bentley and study?
              Yes. You will be in active F-1 status as long as you are able to enter the U.S. for the start of the fall trimester and are registered full time (12 credits for undergraduate students and 9 credits for graduate students). You will be required to take a portion of your course load in-person.

              Please note that if you plan to study in person, you must arrive in the U.S. and report to CISS either in person or electronically no later than September 28, 2020 in order to maintain F1 status for the fall 2020 trimester.

              Does Bentley University know when the U.S. Consulates and Embassies will be processing student visa applications?
              Many U.S. consular posts have suspended routine visa processing temporarily during the COVID-19 pandemic with a phased reopening beginning July 15. Unfortunately, we do not know when individual U.S. Embassies and Consulate posts will resume processing student visas. 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. You should check your embassy or consulate’s website frequently for appointment availability.

              Will I be issued a new I-20 as discussed in the July 6 SEVP guidance?
              As that guidance has been rescinded, students do not need a new I-20 issued to them in order to travel to the US or apply for a visa. Please ensure that returning students have a valid travel signature on Page 2 of your I-20, and if not please request one from CISS.

              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.

              How will studying online or in a hybrid format during fall 2020 affect my OPT or CPT eligibility next summer?
              Your eligibility timeline for F-1 benefits (CPT/OPT) begins accruing once you enter the U.S. in F1 status. If you enter the U.S. to begin the fall trimester in F1 status, the fall trimester will count towards your one year of eligibility. If you choose to study outside of the U.S. for the fall 2020 trimester, you will not begin your F1 status nor start accruing eligibility for benefits until you enter the U.S. for the spring 2021 trimester.

              Please see our web pages on OPT and CPT eligibility to understand current eligibility requirements.


              Returning international students FAQ

              Do I need to take a full course load? And can I take online or hybrid classes?Continuing students entering the U.S. in F-1 status (or studying remotely from your home country) should enroll in a full-time course load (12 credits for undergraduates; 9 credits for graduates). These courses can be online or hybrid or both – there is no in-person class requirement for continuing students. CISS will maintain your F-1 SEVIS record if you are enrolled full-time, regardless of your location in the U.S. or overseas. 

              I am taking all my classes from outside the U.S. What should I enter in Workday as my local address?
              We will still need a local (U.S.) address for all students by the start of the fall semester. 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
              Waltham, MA 02452  

              Can I study online in the fall from outside the U.S.? What happens to my immigration status?

              1. 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 and must remain outside of the U.S. Email for Leave of Absence procedures. 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.
              2. You can take a full load of courses remotely, and you will be able to maintain active F1 student status. Even if you are not in the U.S., as long as you are maintaining a full load of courses you will continue to be considered an active F1 student and we will register you in SEVIS accordingly.

              Can I come to Bentley and study?
              Yes. You will maintain your F-1 status as long as you are registered full time (12 credits for undergraduate and 9 credits for graduate students) regardless of the format of your classes.  

              How does this situation impact my work authorization?
              As long as you are maintaining status by taking a full load of courses, you will accrue eligibility towards CPT and/or OPT during fall 2020 because you will be maintaining your F1 status.  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.

              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 F1 international students and does not count toward the two semester requirement for CPT or OPT eligibility. International F1 students must still take a full load of courses in both the fall and spring trimesters.

              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. If you are approaching the end of a grace period or no longer have F1 status, 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.

              What if I need to return home after Thanksgiving since residential halls won’t be open and classes will be online?
              The latest guidance clarifies that you will maintain status regardless of the format of your classes. As such, you may either remain in the U.S. (off campus) or return home as of Thanksgiving. As long as you are continuing your full course load, your will remain in F1 status.

              What if I need to arrive later than the start of classes for the fall 2020 semester?
              All new students must arrive on Bentley’s campus no later than September 28, 2020 in order to maintain F1 status for the fall 2020 trimester. Returning/continuing students, however, can maintain F1 status from both outside the US and inside the US as long as they are taking a full course load. As such, you can arrive in the U.S. at any point in the semester though you may face limitations and restrictions with housing arrangements.

              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 (OPT Applications will be accepted electronically only)

              To submit documents to the CISS:

              • Please refer to the OPT section of our website for a list of documents and downloadable forms:
              • Scan and email documents in a single email to 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

              CPT Applications will be accepted electronically only
              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.

              • 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 -- Friday 9am-10am (EST)
                • Monday -- Friday 2pm-3pm (EST)
              • As always, we are also available for advising questions via email at  
              • CISS is open and responding to phone (+1.781.891.2829) and email inquiries (
              • 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
              • Important information for students (including a dedicated section for international students) is available at the Student FAQ page.

              International Students Webinar

              On July 20, the CISS team and members from across campus answered international students' questions on the fall 2020 trimester.

              Watch the Webinar

              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


              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


              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


              F1 Undergraduate Students


              F1 Graduate Students


              J1 Exchange Students

              CISS Staff

              Contact Us

              Student Center, Room 310 (currently remote)

              • Monday - Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
              • 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 -- Friday 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. (EDT)
                • Monday -- Friday 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (EDT)

              Phone: 781-891-2829 | Fax: 781-891-2845 | Email: