Common Questions for International Students and Scholars
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.
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 non-immigrant status (B1/B2, F2, H1B or H4), and would like to change to F-1 or J-1 status, you have two options: Consular Processing or Change of Status.
- 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.
A Social Security Number (SSN) is required to receive compensation for work in the US (F-1 on-campus employment, paid internship, Optional Practical Training (OPT) or J-1 Academic Training).