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Common Questions for International Students and Scholars

Can I transfer my SEVIS record from another U.S. high school or university to Bentley?

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 and may not need to obtain a new F-1 visa. 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.

In order to be eligible for a SEVIS transfer, your new program must start within five months.

Learn More

How do I change my 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 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.

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How do I obtain a F-1 or J-1 Visa?
  1. Provide Documentation to Bentley. 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 provide you with instructions on the documentation to provide to obtain your immigration document to apply for your visa (I-20 for F-1 visa/DS-2019 for J-1 visa). 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.
  2. Receive I-20/DS-2019 and pay SEVIS fee. Once you receive your Form I-20 or DS-2019, you must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee online 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 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) and bring as proof of payment to bring to your visa appointment.
  3. Complete the online visa application (DS-160). You will likely need a printed copy of the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview. You will also need to upload your photo while completing the online form. You will also need to pay the application fee.
  4. Schedule an interview (if required) With the exception of Canadians, most prospective international students must obtain an F-1 visa at a U.S. consular post abroad to request entry to the U.S. in F-1 status. Most visa applicants apply at their nearest consulate or embassy. You may also schedule your interview at another U.S. embassy or consulate, although it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa outside of the country where you live. Wait times for appointments may vary by location and time of year, so we recommend scheduling your appointment as soon as possible. New student visas can generally be issued up to 120 days in advance of the start date of your program.
  5. Gather documentation for your appointment. At your appointment, you will be expected to provide documentation of your admission to Bentley University, your I-20 or DS-2019 form, proof of financial ability and English proficiency, along with other additional evidence as required by the consular post. Evidence may consist of transcripts, diplomas, test scores, additional financial documentation, or documentation of your ties to your home country or intent to depart the U.S. upon completion of studies. Review the consulate-specific instructions on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply.
  6. Attend your interview (if required). If required, a consular officer will interview you to determine whether you meet the requirements for a student visa. You may also be asked to give digital fingerprint scans as a part of the interview, or be provided with instructions for how to provide these at a later time. Generally, the consular officer will then approve or deny your visa. In the case of denial, you should ask the consular office for documentation of the reason for your denial, and notify for assistance. In some cases, a consular officer may not make an immediate decision, and may determine that your application requires further administrative processing. Administrative processing may take weeks to months. Before your interview, you may want to practice answering questions in English about your visa application. It is helpful to approach your interview with confidence and clear and concise answers.  your plans to study at Bentley
  7. Receive your visa. You will need to arrange for the return of your passport (with your visa stamp) to you either by picking up at the consulate or mailing.
  8. Make travel plans. 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. You may also want to carry additional proof of admission to Bentley and financial documentation. 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.

9. Report to Bentley CISS. New students should plan to attend orientation. During orientation, the CISS will provide an information session on your visa status, rules and regulations. We will also provide you with resources for adjusting to life at Bentley and the U.S. This session is mandatory. You will also be expected to complete a virtual immigration registration process to notify the CISS that you have arrived in the U.S., and to provide us with some general information so that we can register your immigration record within 30 days of your program start date, as required by the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Please contact if your arrival is delayed for any reason.

How do I obtain a social security number?

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). 

Learn How and When to Apply

Can I work on a Student Visa?

F-1 visas allow students to work on campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and full time during major school breaks. You may also be eligible to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for internships for credit during your studies and Optional Practical Training (OPT) for a period of 12-36 months after degree completion. These benefits do not require company sponsorship.  Learn more about F-1 work benefits

J-1 Exchange and Degree-Seeking students should contact for information on off-campus J-1 employment benefits (Academic Training - AT)

I forgot to get my I-20 signed and I am about to travel, what should I do?

I Forgot to Get My I-20 Signed:

The CISS recommends that you come to our office for a signature or request a new I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature from our website at least 1-2 weeks prior to travel, keeping in mind office closures during major holiday breaks. We do not issue travel signatures during Bentley University administrative office closures.

If your travel plans do not allow enough time for you to receive a new document from the CISS, then you can choose to (a) change your anticipated return date or (b) return to the U.S. without a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019.

If you choose to re-enter without a signature, a Customs and Border Protection officer at the Port of Entry (airport or land border) will issue you an I-515A form. You may also proactively request this form. This form allows you temporary admission to the U.S. for 30 days, during which time you must send updated documentation to the government to extend your status. On very rare occasions, you may be denied entry to the U.S. While this is not common, it is important that you understand this risk.

Immigration-Related Emergencies:

There are rare circumstances in which you may need immediate immigration assistance. These circumstances may include loss of your passport or other important visa documents, a visit by a government official at home or on campus, detainment at a U.S. port of entry, or threat of deportation or removal. Please note that forgetting to have your I-20 signed for travel is not considered an immigration emergency. If you are detained, you should refrain from signing any documents and request to call Bentley University. Bentley’s campus police is open 24 hours per day, seven days per week, year-round, and will contact a CISS advisor if any immigration-related emergencies are reported.

Michael A. Callahan Police Station
Emergency Line: 781.891.3131
Business Phone: 781.891.2201