Information for New International Students
Welcome to Bentley! As an accepted student, the Center for International Students and Scholars (CISS) will help you with immigration documents (Form I-20 or DS-2019) and visa information (F-1 or J-1) as you prepare to study in the United States.
Before You Arrive
- 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.
- 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 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) and bring as proof of payment to bring to your visa appointment.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 GA_CISS@bentley.edu 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
- 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.
- 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 GA_CISS@bentley.edu if your arrival is delayed for any reason.
SEVIS (Immigration) Transfer Students
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.
- The SEVIS transfer process must be initiated while your SEVIS record is active or within the 60-day grace period following completion of your program or Optional Practical Training.
During the admissions process, you will fill out a transfer form with an advisor at the school listed on your current I-20.
Once the transfer date has passed, the Center for International Students and Scholars will receive the transfer and create a "transfer pending" Form I-20 for you, which you will use between programs. You do not need to obtain a new visa unless your current visa is expired, and you need to re-enter the U.S. You are permitted to either remain in the U.S. between programs, OR travel and re-enter before your new program.
Before your new program begins, you will receive information about orientation. 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). SEVIS transfer students will also receive a new I-20 once this process is complete to indicate that the transfer has been finalized. Please contact GA_CISS@bentley.edu if your arrival is delayed for any reason.
Changing Your 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 nonimmigrant 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 (obtaining a visa from outside of the U.S. and re-entering in a new status) or Change of Status (via form I-539 from within the U.S). For more information on change of status procedures, contact GA_CISS@bentley.edu. We encourage students to carefully review the Change of Status Process & Acknowledgment Form prior to making a decision about which process to pursue.
Travel outside of the U.S. and follow all of the above listed steps to obtain an F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy abroad. You will re-enter the U.S. using your new visa and Form I-20/DS-2019.
You may apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change your status without leaving the U.S. by completing a form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status and sending supporting documents. This process can take up to 6+ months. Approval is not guaranteed, and changing from certain visa types (specifically tourist visas) has a high denial rate.
If your application is approved, you will be in your new status and can remain in the U.S. in this status. However, once you travel outside the U.S., you will need to apply for a new visa stamp in order to re-enter.
|Factor||Travel and Re-entry||Change of Status
|Timing||More control over timing (unless a security clearance is needed). Student should factor in the time needed to travel and schedule the visa appointment.||Can take months to be approved (+6 months). If student leaves the U.S., application should be canceled or will be considered abandoned by the USCIS.|
|Stamp in Passport||Will have a visa in their passport for the next time they travel.||Student will need to apply for visa on next trip abroad.|
|Cost||Cost of flights, SEVIS fee, visa application fees, possible hotel fees||I-539 application fee and SEVIS fee.|
|In-person or Application||Face-to-face interview with a consular officer for interview. May be easier to explain situation and answer questions.||USCIS adjudicator is making a decision based on the application alone. A "Request for Evidence/Information" could delay the process.|
|Risk||Assess risk of obtaining visa given country of origin/where student will apply for the visa.||If application is denied, student may need to leave the U.S.|
|Other Considerations||Health, safety in home country. Mid-semester start date is OK if student has been studying full-time.||Can remain in the U.S. while COS application is pending. May need a "bridge to extension" to extend current visa status.|
Arriving at Bentley
New students should plan to attend orientation. Information about undergraduate or graduate orientation will be provided to you prior to arrival. 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). We will provide you with information about how to complete this process before the start of orientation. Please contact GA_CISS@bentley.edu if your arrival is delayed for any reason.
Review this travel and arrival information
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health requires full time students (students taking 9 or more credits) to complete and submit the following before arriving to Bentley University:
1. Health History Questionnaire
2. TB Risk Assessment Questionnaire
3. Immunization Record
To access forms, upload documents, enter immunizations and submit this information, log into the Online Student Health Portal. Log on using your Bentley short name (everything to the left of the @ in your email address).
For further information and details please go to Bentley University Health Center. Our website contains details about the requirements, downloadable forms, allowable waivers, and Zoom video instruction for navigating the portal. You will not be able to move into housing or begin classes until you have submitted the required information. You will also be charged a $50 nonrefundable fee if you remain non-compliant.
On-Campus Housing is available to undergraduate students. The Residential Center will inform you of the day on which you may move into your residence hall. You must complete all of the required paperwork indicated in your MyBentley account. Residential Center staff are available to answer any questions. Please note: first-year resident students are not allowed to register automobiles on campus during their first year of study.
Email GA_Housing@bentley.edu with questions related to on-campus housing.
Waltham is a beautiful town just west of Boston. Waltham has a number of popular apartment complexes and privately owned apartments and housing throughout town. It's also surrounded by the towns of Belmont, Newton, Arlington and Watertown, which are also options for living.
Popular apartment complexes close to campus include:
976 Lexington Street
Waltham, MA 02451
Cronin Landing Apartments
25 Crescent Street
Waltham, MA 02453
Finding a place to live off-campus can be very challenging for any new student. Make sure to be a smart consumer! When renting a room or apartment, we recommend you:
- Let landlords and real estate agents know what type of rental units you are looking for (such as studio or one-bedroom; furnished or unfurnished).
- Do not rent a place that you have not seen.
- Have any repairs or maintenance work agreed to in writing by the landlord before you sign a lease.
- Be prepared to sign a lease (binding rental agreement) for one year.
- Be prepared to pay first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a security deposit for your room or apartment before you are permitted to move in.
Students are advised to use all resources available to them when choosing a place to live. Please contact an advisor in CISS if you have further questions about finding a place to live.
Bentley University is not responsible or liable for any off-campus student housing arrangements. Furthermore, neither Bentley University nor the CISS staff endorse the above apartment complexes or apartment-finder websites. Bentley University does not inspect the premises of any off-campus housing locations nor does it assume responsibility for contracts/leases or other housing arrangements between individuals.